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Just Transition Commission call for evidence: analysis report

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


3.6 Additional evidence

3.6.1 The final consultation question asked respondents if they wished to share further evidence with the Commission:

Please provide here any other information, evidence, or research you consider relevant to the work of the Commission.

3.6.2 A multitude of examples, reports, books, websites and articles were shared with the Commission. This information typically fell into three groups: (1) scientific evidence illustrating the urgent need to achieve net-zero; (2) material discussing the political, philosophical or economic implications of managing climate change; or (3) examples of practice or models for the Commission to consider.

3.6.3 The range of reference material provided by some individuals and organisations was extensive; for example, a single response provided evidence about climate change, social justice, energy production and sustainable economic models. Respondents provided varying levels of detail in their responses. Some simply shared a weblink or book title without explaining why they wanted the Commission to read this source while others provided a detailed discussion with multiple references in footnotes.

3.6.4 Many participants reiterated points made elsewhere in their response or offered some general concluding comments. A small number thanked the Commission for their work so far. A few identified gaps in the available evidence base, advocating for research into a particular issue.

3.6.5 References were collated and organised broadly by subject theme although in some cases a source spanned many relevant topics, particularly the books cited by some respondents.

3.6.6 The volume of material for consideration cannot be covered in detail within this report.[12] Instead, this chapter focuses on key sources or evidence themes referenced in multiple comments, plus a sample of the many examples of practice or models signposted by respondents for the Commission to read.

Climate change and protection of the environment

3.6.7 Evidence included papers and reports by academics, journalists, communities of interest and campaign groups. There were references to scientific publications by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Institute for Global Health, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, plus news and commentary articles in The Guardian and Nature magazine.

3.6.8 Several respondents referenced 'Our Common Home' a policy paper prepared by Common Weal, a think tank and collective movement. It sets out a series of steps to achieving net-negative carbon.

3.6.9 Other forms of evidence included letters, such as that sent by the Committee on Climate Change to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, and a letter sent by 200 US climate scientists to Congress.

Sustainable economic models and labour market adaptations

3.6.10 Several respondents signposted the Commission to the work of economist Kate Raworth, for example, the book 'Doughnut Economics' and her Ted Talks, which discuss ways to address economic, social and ecological challenges associated with climate change.

3.6.11 Links to the Preston Model and other systems of community wealth were shared by respondents. Approaches developed by the Wellbeing Economics Alliance including Katherine Trebeck and others were described, and reports by campaign groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and GreenPeace.

3.6.12 There were repeat mentions of the many political, social and economic adjustments recently made in response to COVID-19. Respondents provided links to papers and articles on the theme of 'build back better', for example by Bella Caledonia, the United Nations and World Economic Forum.

Energy

3.6.13 An extensive range of evidence related to energy was shared. This spanned issues such as hydrogen, harm from use of fossil fuels, biomass fuel, nuclear power, carbon capture, energy markets, gas, barriers to switching energy sources, fuel poverty, community renewable energy projects, new technology and the workings of the National Grid.

3.6.14 Evidence on improved energy demand and efficiency also appeared frequently, often in relation to heating. This included information about standards for new builds and improvements to existing housing stock.

Agriculture and forestry, land ownership and land management

3.6.15 Several respondents shared articles and publications on carbon efficient approaches to food growing, including details of innovative approaches by local producers and examples from England, France and the USA. Food insecurity was also highlighted by some respondents, who signposted the Commission to a range papers on this theme including reports by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and Food Foundation.

3.6.16 Discussion of peatland restoration, reforestation and community land ownership and management also appeared in responses to this question. There were several references to papers by campaign groups such as Reforesting Scotland, the WWF, the Woodland Trust, the Vegan Society, the Climate and Land Use Alliance and Community Land Scotland. A few respondents urged members of the Commission to read 'Rewilding' by Isabella Tree.

Transport

3.6.17 Evidence about transport covered wide-ranging issues such as use of cars, public transport, aviation, walking, cycling, roads, transport poverty, infrastructure and planning. Documents shared with the commission included the National Transport Strategy, details about approaches in other countries and many publications by organisations such as Paths for All, Ice Bike, STSG, Transform Scotland, Transport for Quality of Life, Cycling Scotland, Living Streets and Sustrans.

Social justice and equality

3.6.18 Publications by think tanks, communities of interest and campaign groups dominated the evidence in this theme. This included work by the IPPR's Economic Justice Commission, publications by the Transition Towns Movement and books such as 'Climate: A New Story' by Charles Eisenstein and 'What If?' by Rob Hopkins.

Practice or models for the Commission to consider

3.6.19 One respondent highlighted the work of the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), noting that biotechnology uses plant-based and waste resources to produce or process materials, chemicals and energy, offering green and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. IBioIC was described as 'a networking and support organisation that connects industry, academia and government to bring biotechnology processes and products to the global market offering scale-up facilities, talent development, funding provision and promotion of Scotland's assets'.

3.6.20 An ongoing review of the role of community energy in the de-carbonisation of the energy system was described by another respondent, who explained that the 'focus is on empowering local community anchor organisations to be able to play a key role in helping drive energy demand reduction and contribute to a more 'flexible' energy system'. This respondent set out a five-year vision for community energy, including action to inspire and support local people to reduce energy demand and adopt low carbon behaviour; the development of local markets in energy supply; and local energy partnerships required by the National Community Energy Plan.

3.6.21 Several respondents described community education, consultation and engagement models that they felt the Commission could learn from, including the Coalfields Longannet Initiative in partnership with Scottish Enterprise; South Seeds in Glasgow and Transition Edinburgh who highlighted that they are 'one of over 1,500 such community led local initiatives worldwide'.

Gaps in existing research

3.6.22 A few respondents described gaps in the evidence base for the Commission to investigate. These included: (1) the carbon sequestration opportunities offered by peatland; (2) specific consultation with disabled people and communities in rural and remote areas on the impact of the Just Transition; (3) identifying specific emission contributions from different sectors; (4) carbon capture research; (5) any positive impact on emission levels of changes brought about in response to COVID-19; and (6) further research into new technologies.

Contact

Email: justtransitioncommission@gov.scot

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