National Economic Forum: June 2021

National Economic Forum 16 June 2021 Transforming Scotland's Economy: working together to secure a successful future.

Hosts: Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport / Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work

Facilitator: Tracy Black, Scotland Director, CBI

Scribe: Chris Guest, Scottish Government


There can be no doubt that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing the world, and we are already seeing the impact of this global crisis here in Scotland. Yet climate change is also an opportunity to harness innovation, attract investment, increase the international profile of Scottish business and research and achieve better quality, low-carbon and shared growth. This is why Scotland has set an ambitious target to become 'Net Zero' by 2045, and to do so in a way that is fair and creates a better future for everyone – regardless of where they live, what they do, and who they are

In a Net Zero world, we see Scottish business at the heart of a high value-added, high productivity economy, that focuses on premium products and services and is resilient to the impacts of climate change. This provides good quality, green jobs, with high labour standards, and protection for consumers to ensure the costs of transition do not unfairly burden those least able to pay.

Partnership between government and business will be critical in realising these opportunities of a just transition to net zero, through the leveraging of Scotland’s strengths in energy, natural capital, innovation, and our skilled workforce and universities. The prize for business can be significant, as concerted climate action can maximise better quality, low-carbon growth through efficiency gains, accelerated innovation and active participation in diversified Global Value Chains. 

The Just Transition Commission’s final report, published in March, argued that a successful transition will need to be underpinned by a strengthening of social partnership working in Scotland, with Government, business, trade unions and communities coming together to work towards a shared goal. The Commission specifically highlighted the need for partnership in developing roadmaps for the transition in Scotland, including for key technology options.

Recognising this need for partnership, the policies set out in the Climate Change Plan update are aimed at driving economic demand in key net zero markets, providing opportunities for Scottish businesses and supply chains, and creating demand for good, green jobs now and in the future. The Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan will support reskilling and retraining skilled workers so that they can access the new, good quality jobs that become available, building on the National Transition Training Fund and Young Person’s Guarantee.

COP26 in November is the world’s best chance to deliver a global deal that supports the goals of the Paris Agreement and delivers lasting action towards a net zero and a climate-resilient future. Key aims for the Scottish government at COP26 include enhancing Scotland’s pathway to Net Zero through a Just Transition, attracting investment, innovation and building Scotland’s global profile.

COP26 can be a catalyst in driving new partnerships across Scotland, focussing action within and between industries, regions and communities. Crucially it will provide a global platform for showcasing our ability to work together to deliver climate leadership, which can in turn drive new export and inward investment opportunities

Discussion questions

  • what have you started doing regarding decarbonisation and what do you still have to do? How could you accelerate plans? What could throw you off course and what can Government do to help reduce those risks?
  • have you accessed or are you planning to access green finance? Do you understand the landscape? Do you know where to go for the technology solutions your company needs and has the finance helped you do so? If not, how could government help and what are the opportunities for Scotland in respect to gaps in supply chains?
  • what do you consider in your sustainability planning in respect to your employees and communities and a Just Transition? What actions can government take to support planning for a just transition?
  • COP is a great opportunity to be a to be a huge “trade” show for the UK and Scotland. How could government facilitate business opportunities for you at COP that could also help develop a more sustainable future for Scotland?


National Economic Forum

Back to top