Just transition for the built environment and construction sector: a discussion paper

This discussion paper is intended to support engagement on a just transition for the built environment and construction sector. Building on this engagement, a draft targeted action plan and route map (late 23/24) will outline the key steps to delivering a fair transition for the sector.

Draft Just Transition Outcomes for the Built Environment and Construction Sector

Our approach to just transition planning is informed by the National Just Transition Planning Framework. The framework sets out eight broad National Just Transition Outcomes. These have been distilled into the following four areas reflecting the main goals for just transition across all sectors:

Jobs, Skills and Economic Opportunities – Scotland has a thriving net zero economy, enabling businesses to set up and grow sustainably. People are equipped with the skills and opportunities to access good, green jobs in a net zero economy. This economy delivers a liveable world for people and planet, ensuring a thriving, biodiverse environment and fair work and full lives for people. (National Just Transition Outcomes 2 & 4)

Communities and Places should be accessible places for people to grow,investing in their environment and economy. Communitiesshould be empowered to reach net zero in a way that meetstheir needs, and builds on their unique local strengths, in anequitable fashion as part of a just transition. (National Just Transition Outcomes 1 & 7)

People and Equity - Peopleare able toenjoy basic rights, freedoms and quality oflife and have access to necessities such as heat, food, housing,employment, childcare and wider wellbeing. They are healthier,happier and treated with respect and have access to full, variedopportunities that add value to their lives. Opportunities, wealthand power are spread more equally; costs primarily fall to thosewho can bear them. (National Just Transition Outcomes 3 & 8)

Environment, Biodiversity and Adaptation - Our environment must meet the needs of those living in and depending on it – this includes both our natural and built environment. Our spaces must be resilient to the impacts of climate change and restore our biodiversity. Spaces must provide those living or dependent on them with everything they need to live full and healthy lives as they support the transition. (National Just Transition Outcomes 5 & 6)

These outcomes reflect what Scottish Government has identified as the main areas that just transition activity should cover, including effective reskilling and new economic opportunities, as well as engaging communities and reflecting fairness and a person-centred approach in policy making.

The People and Equity theme reflects the Scottish Government's climate justice focus. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 defines climate justice as "the importance of taking action to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases and to adapt to the effects of climate change in ways which -

support the people who are most affected by climate change but who have done the least to cause it and are the least equipped to adapt to its effects, and help to address inequality."

A proposed set of draft outcomes that articulate the National Just Transition Planning Framework specifically for the built environment and construction sector are outlined below.

These draft outcomes were subject to discussion with stakeholders throughout our early engagement on this process.

Discussion points

  • Do these specific outcomes look proportionate and relevant for the change required across our built environment and the construction sector?
  • Do additional factors need to be included in the outcomes?
  • Where can we draw more explicit links between related work and ambitions, such as on biodiversity, climate justice or adaptation?
  • What opportunities and/or barriers exist within the sector that may support or prevent the delivery of these outcomes?

Draft Outcomes for the Built Environment and Construction Sector

Jobs, Skills and Economic Opportunities

1. There are successful, commercially sustainable and profitable construction businesses which are anchored in Scotland, forming robust local supply chains and contributing to Scotland's net zero economy.

2. Existing workforce: The building and construction sector provides high quality and fair work for all workers and looks after physical and mental health, safety and wellbeing. The workforce is diverse, has equality at its heart and drives productivity. Worker retention rates have improved as well as a concerted upskilling and reskilling of the existing workforce.

3. Future workforce: The building and construction sector is attractive to a diverse range of new entrants to the workforce. There is a strong pipeline of talent with capacity and competency fit for current and future industry needs, both regionally and nationally, including rural areas and island communities. All workers have access to attractive education, training, and apprenticeship opportunities within the sector.

4. Businesses in the construction sector are sufficiently guided to innovate and invest in people to grow local economic benefit, including rural and remote areas, and to play a strong role in strengthening supply chains and creating export opportunities.

Communities and Places

1. Communities are involved in the decisions and designs that impact their local areas, including public buildings and places. The construction sector is fully engaged with, and contributes value to, the communities in which it operates.

2. Communities are supported and empowered to direct and deliver their own projects (such as retrofit cooperatives). Increased demand for retrofitting has resulted in increased local employment and training options.

3. Community health and wellbeing is improved through increased biodiversity and climate resilience measures. New and pre-existing greenspaces are integral to developments within communities and the built environment is future-proofed for a changing climate.

People and Equity

1. Fuel poverty has been addressed. Those most in need have been supported to make energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation improvements to their homes. People have good access to the majority of their daily needs within a reasonable distance of their homes, promoting active travel, reducing transport costs and creating sustainable, resilient and healthy local environments.

2. Those who can afford to contribute towards improving the energy efficiency of their homes, properties owned, and non-domestic buildings, have access to the advice and support programmes they need to. Where individuals do not have agency over their residence (i.e., private tenants), they are not unfairly burdened with the costs of the changes required.

3. Households are incentivised to invest in the climate resilience of their property while ensuring the cost of insurance related to adaptation to climate impacts has not disproportionately burdened those unable to pay, or those at risk of being unable to pay.

4. Quality and safety of housing has improved with energy efficiency measures facilitating warmer & lower emissions homes for everyone in Scotland and leading to improved health outcomes for people.

Environment, Biodiversity and Adaptation

1. The construction sector uses natural resources sustainably, prioritising local supply chains where possible and is a key part of a circular economy. The sector is waste efficient, optimises materials, designs for re-use recovery and resilience, and designs for deconstruction and flexibility.

2. Private and public buildings and places (including care homes, schools, hospitals etc.) are resilient to climate impacts. For all new buildings and places (public, residential and commercial) and any maintenance or improvement of existing structures, adaptation considerations are embedded from the outset, and are designed to deliver multiple co-benefits, improving resilience.

3. Green sustainable solutions are standard in the construction sector, contributing to increased biodiversity, good quality green space, increased health and wellbeing and adaptation to climate impacts in lived environments.


Email: justtransition@gov.scot

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