Foreword from Chair
When I agreed to Chair this Commission in September 2018, it was clear that Scotland stood at a critical point on its journey to a net-zero economy. While emissions have fallen by almost 47% since 1990, the next phase of Scotland’s fight against climate change will be harder, and will have a much more visible impact on people’s day-to-day lives. This will bring significant opportunities, but also inevitably challenges which must be managed by Government. It is imperative that we ensure fairness and a just transition for all as we move into this next phase if we are to have any hope of ending our contribution to climate change.
Given the progress that has been made towards net-zero in Scotland our thinking around just transition is perhaps broader than the approaches considered so far in other countries. The future of employment and skills are central to just transition, but it has become clear to us that a wider perspective is required. We took an early decision to bring the role of consumers and communities into our thinking, since both will be impacted by the transition to net-zero. We have also extended our work to cover sectors of the economy beyond energy, which has often been the sole focus of transition initiatives elsewhere.
We have also been careful to focus not only on potential injustices that may arise as a result of the transition. Simply put, Scotland’s starting point is not a universally fair one – injustices exist now in relation to the labour market, housing and poverty. Committing to a just transition can provide an opportunity to address existing inequalities while taking action to ensure that new ones do not develop. Equally, the opportunity for wealth-creating businesses to grow and provide jobs during the transition must not be forgotten.
Over the past year, we have been grateful to hear from a wide range of voices and have gathered a great deal of information. We are very much aware that we do not have all the answers, and indeed that Scotland does not necessarily have all the levers at its disposal.
We cannot fully understand, let alone address, the just transition challenge unless people get a chance to have their say. As we move into the second year of our work, we want to encourage input from everyone with an interest in finding a fair transition to net-zero – we want our process to be open to all and our final work to have fully taken on board the views of people and organisations across the country. Engagement to date has helped us face up to the realities of delivering a just transition, and the importance of understanding the legitimate concerns of workers, consumers and communities in relation to their future.
This report ends with an open call for the evidence which we very much hope you will take the opportunity to respond to. Having scoped out many of the issues in relation to the journey towards net-zero over our first year, this evidence call will play a crucial role as we look to develop our final recommendations.
Myself, and my fellow Commissioners, look forward to continuing our work over the next year, and hopefully hearing from you as we progress our work across the country.
Professor Jim Skea
Chair Just Transition Commission