The approaches suggested here are rooted in the major policy areas of Scottish Government that were highlighted in the correspondence supporting the distribution of net revenues. These include a Just Transition to Net Zero, the Green Recovery and the Blue Economy. We explore each of these briefly below. What is common to them all is the need for large scale action and activity to be successful.
Just Transition to Net Zero
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, 2015, and requires countries to increase action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while considering "the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs." As a response to the Paris Agreement, the Climate Change Act 2019 committed Scotland to net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. A Just Transition to Net Zero is the intent to ensure that this transition to a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way, leaving no one behind.
In 2019, Scotland also set up the Just Transition Commission to advise Ministers on how to achieve this vision. A key part of this is applying the Just Transition principles, which can be summarised as:
- plan, invest and implement a transition to environmentally and socially sustainable jobs, sectors and economies, building on Scotland's economic and workforce strengths and potential
- create opportunities to develop resource efficient and sustainable economic approaches, which help address inequality and poverty
- design and deliver low carbon investment and infrastructure, and make all possible efforts to create decent, fair and high value work, in a way which does not negatively affect the current workforce and overall economy.
Creating green jobs, developing sustainable skills and nurturing well-being is at the heart of the Transition to Net Zero, but this must be delivered in a way that is just and tackles inequalities. The Covid-19 pandemic has created an opportunity to step back from business-as-usual and accelerate the just transition as part of the economic recovery. In Scotland, this is the basis of the 'Green Recovery,' the post-pandemic plan to rebuild a society and the economy in a greener, fairer and more sustainable way. At the centre of the plan is the commitment to generating good, green jobs for the future, while equally focusing on retraining and aligning skills programs towards immediate green opportunities.
The Green Recovery brings together several policies and priorities that are relevant for Local Authority decision-making. In particular, the Climate Change Plan sets out key policies that aim to respond to the challenges of the climate change emergency and biodiversity loss while maximising economic benefits for Scotland. The Scottish Government, with COSLA, has also adopted the 'Place Principle' which recognises the value of working closely with local communities to not only understand how they are being affected by climate change but also to work together in futureproofing local areas from the impacts of climate change. The Plan also highlights the importance of a holistic approach, seeing collaboration across sectors and scales as part of the Green Recovery.
The Scottish Government has committed to developing a 'Blue Economy Action Plan,' which will take a joined-up strategic approach across the diverse range of Scotland's established and emerging marine sectors, to maximise the opportunities offered by Scotland's rich marine zone. The Blue Economy Action Plan will encourage collaboration across the public sector, marine industries and marine environmental interests to unlock cross-sectoral synergies that can support growth and jobs, benefit coastal communities and help deliver a just transition to net zero.
Many marine industries share the same common space and benefit from the joint stewardship of the underpinning natural capital. The plan therefore intends to reflect the vital importance to the marine economy of the rich natural capital in Scotland's seas and rivers.
Crucially, the Blue Economy approach also provides the framework for managing the co-existence of different marine interests in a shared space, enabling a transition from a mind-set of 'environment vs economic growth' to a mind-set of 'shared stewardship of natural capital facing common challenges.'
Net revenue contribution to policy goals
The main policy goals of a Just Transition to Net Zero, the Green Recovery and the Blue Economy are fundamental to maintaining our natural world, societal integrity and economic stability, and are therefore major drivers for all activity throughout Scotland and internationally.
Importantly, each of these are interconnected system problems, and will need interconnected system solutions. The radical nature of the changes required - from economic transformation to energy transitions to achieve nearly 50% reduction emission by 2030 - need us to move beyond short-term, small-scale projects to an interconnected vision for the future.
The approaches to using and distributing the net revenue funds can play a role in addressing these strategic issues. Previous uses of net revenue funds have contributed to these policy goals, from investing in replacing hard engineering coastal defences with more nature-based solutions, and a 'proof of concept' that allows others to take on these calculated risks, to supporting and growing sustainable community businesses.
Future rounds provide an opportunity to build on and expand this foundation, networking solutions, supporting innovation, leveraging funds, increasing efficiency and unlocking Collective Impact.