I am flattered to have been asked to take on a second stint as Chair of Scotland's Just Transition Commission. The first Commission, which reported in March 2021, made its mark. Twenty four recommendations, all accepted by the Scottish Government and, in a global first, a Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work.
But this is not the time to rest on our laurels. We may have a longer run than the first Commission – through to the end of the current Parliament – but the just transition challenge has become even more urgent. The perfect storm of COVID and the war in Ukraine has widened inequalities through impacts on food and energy prices. The energy crisis has upped pressure to exploit fossil fuel resources with implications for net zero emissions. And the financial situation is putting pressure on public sector budgets, just as resources are desperately needed to support a transition that is fair for all. How the Scottish Government responds to these challenges and builds long-term perspectives into its immediate actions will be a marker of its commitment to a just transition.
Scotland is not short of the talent, and the will, to address these headwinds. The membership of the new Commission is perhaps even more diverse than previously. We have 16 Commissioners representing a wide range of interests. While employment and fair work remains a core concern, we are now even better placed to cover the wider social dimensions of the transition to net zero emissions, and the implications for people's well-being.
This report sets out our initial thinking on the challenges ahead. It will be followed by the first of our regular annual reports in a year's time. We have met five times since the start of 2022 to get to know each other, understand each other's perspectives and get a grip on the big issues facing us. As the Scottish Government works up the first Just Transition Sectoral Plans, starting with energy, we are rolling up our sleeves to fulfil the first part of our mission, that is to provide advice and scrutiny. Accordingly, a big chunk of this report is devoted to four sectors: energy; buildings and construction; transport and agriculture and land use. Here we set out our initial thinking and suggest some strategic priorities for consideration by the Government. We also cover cross-cutting themes: finance; Scotland's role internationally; and underpinning social infrastructure.
Our other two tasks are to continue the pattern of engagement established by the first Commission and to provide advice on monitoring and evaluation of transition progress. Already at our first meetings we have engaged with those working on carbon capture and storage projects as well as leaders from the building and construction sector. We will engage with other sectors at future meetings. We have just started to get our heads round the monitoring and evaluation challenge.
These are still early days, but all Commissioners felt it was vital that we set out our stall and communicate how we will approach the remit set for us by the Scottish Government. I commend this report to you and thank all the Commissioners for their efforts and for bringing it together in a timely manner.
Professor Jim Skea
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