Resource Spending Review: Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement

This report considers some of the key opportunities and challenges that the Scottish Government faces over this parliamentary term; what these mean for inequality, fairness and human rights; and how the spending review and other initiatives respond.

Opportunity/Challenge 8: Ensure that policies, action and spend necessary to mitigate and adapt to the global impacts of climate change deliver a just transition for people in Scotland

What does the evidence tell us?

  • The disruptive impact of climate change and associated extreme weather is likely to disproportionately impact protected characteristic groups and those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage by exacerbating existing health conditions and reducing access to health care.
  • An increase in the cost of agricultural output and household food and reduced access to water because of climate change could disproportionately negatively impact groups who are more likely to face relative poverty and issues of access.
  • Children and older people are more vulnerable to the impact of traffic-related noise, air pollution and injury from collisions.[88]
  • Prevalence of some health conditions is known to be higher among certain ethnic groups, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which can be exacerbated by exposure to air pollution.[89]
  • Transport has been the largest net source of emissions in Scotland since 2016. Women in Scotland travel less frequently than men, undertake shorter journeys, are less likely to drive to work, and are less likely to hold a driving license. There is no gender difference in the overall frequency of taking flights, although women are less likely to take flights for work or business purposes.[90],[91]
  • Women are more likely than men to consider climate change as a problem, a difference that is particularly pronounced among younger people and those living in the least deprived areas.[92]
  • Globally, children, older people, disabled people, and pregnant women are known to be more vulnerable to air pollution, with pregnant women facing an increased risk of miscarriage as well premature births and low birth weights as a result.[93],[94]
  • Increased levels of flooding are likely to have an impact on lower income groups who may live in more vulnerable areas and have less access to resources to deal with the impacts of flooding.

What are we doing to address this?

Climate change is identified as a key priority within the RSR. We have produced a Climate Change Plan to run to 2032, containing over 100 new policies as well as increasing the ambition of over 40 existing policies from the 2018 Climate Change Plan. The spending review sets out several headline commitments in this area.

One of the most significant commitments is investment in the delivery of the Heat in Buildings Strategy.[95] The scaling up of resource spend of up to £75 million per year to support delivery of the strategy, directly supporting £1.8 billion (including capital and financial transactions) of overall public investment across this Parliament towards decarbonisation of over a million homes and 50,000 non-domestic buildings by 2030. Funding will be targeted to support the most vulnerable and to strike the right balance to ensure fairness, particularly between those who make the transition early (and so potentially face higher lifetime costs) and those who transition much later (e.g., because infrastructure is not available). We will ensure that our delivery programmes do not have a detrimental effect on fuel poverty and will build in additional support where required to ensure people can continue to enjoy warm homes that are affordable to heat. The Heat in Buildings Strategy recognises the twin challenges of decarbonising and tackling fuel poverty as we design, assess, and target interventions, throughout the year. We have committed to identify and support disengaged and vulnerable groups, and through the Community And Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) Equalities Charter, we will work to better support these groups.

We are developing Just Transition Plans for sectors, regions and sites, ensuring our transition to net zero is a fair and managed transition. In line with the 2019 Climate Change Act that requires all forthcoming Climate Change Plans and policies to address the challenges faced by sectors, regions and communities in Scotland, we will align our Just Transition Plans with the next Climate Change Plan.

The approach to planning is guided by our world-first National Just Transition Planning Framework[96], which sets out how we will be working with others on the economic and social impacts of transition. It has co-design at its heart, meaning that we will ensure that those who stand to be most impacted by the transition to net zero are given a voice in determining their future.

We will produce a transport sector Just Transition Plan. This will be developed in collaboration with stakeholders and work will be undertaken to fully define the transport and just transition challenges and opportunities as we transition to net zero. The transport system can play a key role in tackling some of the health inequalities set out earlier, through investment in active travel and reducing car usage. The RSR sets out our plans in this area, which are covered under Challenge 8.

The first of our sectoral Just Transition Plans will be the Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, to be published in 2022. The development of this plan aims to amplify the voices of those most impacted by the transition and set out how changes in the energy sector in the decade ahead will be made fair for all. The Plan will establish a shared vision for Scotland's energy system and identify concrete steps to manage the economic and social impacts of the transition fairly.

Other steps highlighted in the RSR include accelerating the current annual peatland restoration rate; providing £95 million of further investment across the spending review period to support the scaling up of activity to meet our woodland creation targets; continuing investment to support a transformative approach to protecting and restoring Scotland's biodiversity, supporting nature and harnessing the positive impact on climate change such as rainforest restoration and ancient woodland; and supporting the improvement of Scotland's system of land ownership, use, rights and responsibilities, so that our land contributes to a fair and just society while balancing public and private interests.



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