Just Transition Commission call for evidence: analysis report

Analysis of the responses to the Just Transition Commission's call for evidence.

3.3 A successful just transition

3.3.1 Question three asked respondents about their vision for a successful transition:

What would a successful transition to net-zero emissions look like for your sector/community?

3.3.2 Virtually all respondents answered question three. Many reiterated opportunities and challenges already discussed. To avoid repetition, this chapter focuses on respondent's aspirations for a successful transition.

3.3.3 Respondents painted a picture of a prosperous, healthier and sustainable Scotland where environmental considerations are central to decision making. Success has resulted in higher employment in sustainable and valued jobs. Poverty has been reduced or eliminated, with ambitious changes in housing alleviating fuel poverty. Decarbonisation and renewable energy use have reduced pollution, as has more public transport and active travel. Within their vision a small number described Scotland's leadership role in renewables and sustainable approaches, and in protecting landscapes and biodiversity.

I think [my community] would have more regular public transport to nearby villages so that fewer people require cars and clean electric bus services powered by renewables would enable people to get to larger centres. The economy would be circular, with everything re-used and repaired, creating local jobs and shifting behaviours away from consumption to outdoor activities, slow food and growing/selling more locally. Appropriate areas would be rewilded and homes/businesses would have insulation and renewable energy fitted to maximise comfort and efficiency. Agriculture and other high emissions industries would be supported to adopt new practices to reduce emissions and people would buy local to reduce food miles.


People's quality of life would improve. There will be stronger community resilience based on that demonstrated during the pandemic. We will be eating more local food and using more locally produced products, though not exclusively. People will travel less and interact with their neighbours more. Much work will be done from home rather than offices in the city. There will be more efficient public transport, even in rural areas and more active travel. My sector is forestry - Scotland's forests will increase greatly in area with a more diverse range of forest types than at present. They will range from commercial softwood plantations, through mixed multi-objective stands to rewilded large scale native forest, as a mosaic with other habitat types.

Greener Melrose

Less air pollution, fewer private cars on the road meaning safer active travel and therefore even more active travel. Fewer incidences of asthma. For my community, more sharing of goods and services, for example neighbourhood tool libraries. More opportunities to shop and buy goods from my own neighbourhood, supporting local businesses. An economy measured by wellbeing.


3.3.4 A few respondents suggested that COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for people in Scotland to experience some of the changes that would feature in a successful transition, demonstrating how lives could be improved by adopting such changes permanently.


3.3.5 Transport was a dominant theme in comments. In summary, the key goal is for Scotland to have left the car behind. Better provision of affordable, integrated public transport has encouraged people to move up the sustainable transport hierarchy and travel by bus and train. Increased active travel - by walking and cycling - has reduced air pollution and improved health. In rural areas, 'on-demand' community transport is more common. Many described greater use of electric or hydrogen fuelled vehicles, including ferries and planes, to improve connectivity with the islands. These improvements would be achieved following investment in the supporting infrastructure such as re-opening old lines and electrifying railways, creating cycle networks, and expanding an electric vehicle charging network.

Public transport would be free, with buses and ferries powered by hydrogen and any inter-island flights would use electric planes. Road infrastructure would support cycling, with people travelling by bicycle or tricycle, where possible, with car parking spaces replaced by weatherproof bike shelters. Electric cars could be available to carry heavier items and deliveries around local areas. Car share schemes and support for residents to purchase electric cars would be needed, where residents are unable to use bicycles or tricycles.

Extinction Rebellion Orkney

Our cities and towns are vibrant, healthy places that prioritise the movement of people via active travel.


Housing and fuel poverty

3.3.6 Hopes for improved housing was the second most prevalent theme. Scotland's new homes have been carefully planned and built in a considered, environmentally friendly way and a few specified that in their vision, all new buildings are net-zero. Old housing stock is retrofitted to improve insulation and heating. Many suggested that these steps to a successful transition would reduce or eradicate fuel poverty.

A successful transition to net-zero emissions would mean warm, healthy, affordable to heat, and net-zero carbon homes and communities throughout Scotland. These would be highly insulated homes, with appropriate ventilation, and low carbon or renewable heating technologies. Because the homes are so well insulated, heating demand is dramatically reduced and so are running costs. Fossil fuel heating will be phased out starting with off-gas homes and replacing it with low carbon or renewable heating technologies - heat pumps, heat networks, energy storage.

The transition has been delivered through a highly skilled supply chain, involving SME's all over Scotland, backed up by a robust quality assurance scheme. The supply chain includes installers, engineers, and manufacturers - who together have sustained and created thousands of jobs. The quality of programme management and delivery on the ground has led to export opportunities, providing further potential for more quality jobs.

Fuel poverty has been eradicated, and the housing sector as a whole has achieved net-zero emissions by 2045.

Existing Homes Alliance Scotland

Land use, agriculture and food production

3.3.7 The third most common ambition was for changes in land use. Several respondents highlighted that a successful transition would result in greater forest cover, the restoration and protection of ecosystems, rewilding and better management of moorland. A few envisaged that grouse shooting would be stopped or banned.

3.3.8 More outdoor space, and greater use, access, protection and appreciation of new and existing green space was mentioned by some. Access to local green spaces or parks with plants and wildlife, community gardens, or children being able to play in the street, were all cited as evidence of a successful change.

3.3.9 Changes to agriculture highlighted by some respondents included using more efficient practices to reduce emissions; moving away from high emission livestock farming; less pesticide use; more organic farming; and smaller farms. A few conflicting ideas were shared in relation to fish farming - some called for it to be stopped, others for expansion.

3.3.10 Many reflected on the benefits of a local food supply in a successful transition. They hope to see more food grown at home, in allotments or in community gardens. In turn, supply chains would be more resilient with fewer imports and reduced associated emissions.

A successful transition would involve the protection of biodiversity and the restoration of ecosystems such as forests, peatlands, wetlands and oceans. This would include enhancing biodiverse forest cover rather than monoculture conifer plantations.


The importance of community

3.3.11 Many respondents felt that communities would play a central role in ensuring a successful transition, by facilitating decision making, providing services and possibly owning land and energy supplies. All these factors were cited as potentially generating employment, self-sufficiency, increased resilience and community cohesion.

New democratic structures devolving decision making and budgets to municipalities, to increase accountability within the political system and community ownership of what happens in our area.


Empowered democratic communities. We are a nation of active citizens with a vibrant system of small-scale local democracy. Communities have access to local land and resources and are able to devise and implement local solutions to create low carbon, resilient places.

Transition Edinburgh

Renewable energy and decarbonisation

3.3.12 A key feature of a successful transition for many is greater use of renewable, sustainable, green energy sources - more wind, solar, tidal, and hydro electricity generation. A few hoped for Scotland to become self-sufficient in renewable energy production, and potentially able to export energy. Some envisaged the complete elimination of fossil fuels including an end to oil extraction.

3.3.13 Several respondents reiterated their desire for a cleaner environment, less pollution, better air quality, less litter, less noise and cleaner water. Related to this, a few respondents shared the view that a successful transition would see Scotland meeting its climate change targets, in line with Paris Agreement targets.

A successful transition would see a thriving renewable energy sector whereby Scotland is able to meet all of its energy needs from renewables, without the need for fossil fuels as backup, and is providing employment for thousands of people in truly green jobs.

There would have been significant investment in low carbon public transport and a move away from reliance on cars and major road building schemes to improve connectivity.


Economic and employment opportunities

3.3.14 Several respondents detailed their hopes for the creation of a thriving, resilient, sustainable economy, with local businesses (both shops and manufacturing) supported and flourishing. They envisaged opportunities to export knowledge, skills and expertise in renewables, the energy sector and green industries. A few commented that Scotland/north east Scotland will move to a more stable economy and away from the 'boom and bust' associated with the oil industry. Some reiterated their desire to shift to economic measurements based on wellbeing and social purpose rather than GDP.

3.3.15 Many described increased job opportunities resulting from a successful transition, particularly in the renewable energy, construction, heating and sustainable tourism sectors. Growth in local businesses was also described. These forms of employment would be high quality, satisfying, valued, secure and sustainable in the long-term, particularly for those who have transferred from the oil and gas sector.

3.3.16 Several hope to see greater use of technology, especially improved access to broadband and mobile technology. Specific aspirations included older people being more IT literate, and the NHS making more use of tele-medicine to reduce travel requirements.

The circular economy and sustainable lifestyles

3.3.17 Respondents highlighted their desire to see a society with a changed mindset. Citizens are focused on the environment, empowered to make change and feel pride in having done so. They described an ambition to reduce consumerism and increase sustainable lifestyles. A fully functioning circular economy was mentioned by many, featuring extensive repair, reuse or recycling. More generally, some desired less waste or a zero-waste society, including more food waste recycling and reduced littering. A small number described a system where local authorities and the public play a lead in developing a circular economy by enshrining local sourcing and shorter supply chains in procurement.

3.3.18 Several noted their wish for greater home working, shorter working hours, a 4-day week and more part‑time working. Reducing unnecessary travel or travel for work or business and replacing this with digital communication was also seen as desirable.

Policy and legislation

3.3.19 Respondents hope a successful transition will result in the environment being central to all policy decisions, and in a national and regional framework of policies with a co-ordinated approach between government and local authorities. Specific policy suggestions which might feature included a small number calling for a universal basic income, a carbon budget for each person or legislation to limit and recycle waste.

Reduced inequality

3.3.20 Some respondents feel that success would include the reduction or elimination of poverty in Scotland. Others stated it would mean no-one had been left behind or be harmed by the transition. Some argued that the transition should focus on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Other specific hopes included better engagement with women, vulnerable groups, minority groups and people with disabilities; ending homelessness; reduced inequality in health outcomes; and greater appreciation of key workers.

Improved health

3.3. 21 Several respondents noted the improved physical and mental health which would result from other positive features of a successful transition. Improved air quality, more active travel and better diet would aid physical health. Alleviation of poverty and the associated distress, better housing, and greater use of the outdoors would aid mental health and wellbeing.


Email: justtransitioncommission@gov.scot

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