Foreword from Chair
Our country, like others around the world, is currently going through a time of unprecedented upheaval and change. COVID-19 represents the most serious public health emergency the world has faced in a generation and has already taken a devastating toll on our society.
Rightly, our minds have been focused on the here and now; how we navigate ourselves through this crisis in a way which protects the health of the population while ensuring our business and community infrastructure remain intact. As lockdown measures are cautiously eased, governments around the world are beginning to turn their attention to how we can recover from the damage caused by the virus.
Climate change, the grand challenge of this generation, has not gone away. When we published our interim report in February we were clear about the need to ramp up action and take steps to ensure the benefits of climate action were felt widely, while the costs did not unfairly burden those least able to pay. That message is every bit as relevant now as it was then. With plans for investment and interventions in the economy being drawn up, there is an opportunity to accelerate our transition to a net-zero economy while healing the scars left on our society by the pandemic. The recent announcement of redundancies at Scotland’s world-class bus manufacturer highlights the precarious position of many who can contribute to our net-zero transition. We also know that the impact of COVID-19 has not been felt equally across society, and that marginalised groups have been hit the hardest. Now more than ever it is vital we consider the equity aspects of our transition to net-zero.
We were tasked with advising on a just transition to net-zero in Scotland and in this report we have outlined how COVID-19 impacts on that challenge. We have identified several actions we believe government should consider as part of a just and green recovery. In doing this, we have engaged with the wider policy landscape, taking account of advice already submitted to government by the Committee on Climate Change, the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, the Climate Emergency Response Group and many others. Rather than duplicate existing work, we have sought to focus on areas of the recovery specific to our remit.
We continue to progress our work plan in order to submit a final report to Ministers in early 2021. Our report will come at an important time for Scotland, before a new Parliament is elected and as plans for showcasing Scotland to the world at COP26 in Glasgow are being developed. We hope this report will help lay the foundations for a just transition to net-zero, allowing us to recover from COVID-19 in a way which builds a fairer, greener society for all.
Professor Jim Skea
Chair Just Transition Commission