Foreword from the Chair
When we started on this journey at the beginning of 2019 we lived in a very different world. Covid-19 has changed our lives, and underlined the importance of shared efforts in response to global challenges that affect us all. As we cautiously emerge from the pandemic, we should remember this lesson.
One of the main messages emerging from our work has been that fairness and climate ambition must go hand in hand. We are in no doubt that climate action can bring multiple benefits, including quality green jobs and improved social inclusion. But past experience leaves us in no doubt that for these benefits to be realised, we must plan and be prepared to take decisive action.
Failing to tackle the climate emergency would result in social and economic upheaval; the scale of suffering would eclipse the challenge we face, here and now, in planning for a just transition for Scotland. Taking sustained action at pace depends on consensus, and it must be underpinned by basic principles of fairness. The pathway to net-zero emissions may be ambitious, but it can be a unique opportunity to build a Scotland that is healthier, fairer and greener.
Delivering this vision is not a task for the Scottish Government alone, however. It must be a national mission, based on collective endeavour. The building blocks are in place. We have ambitious and comprehensive Climate Change legislation, with just transition at its heart. There is a growing consensus of the need for urgency and we have great examples of businesses and other organisations in Scotland pivoting their operations towards alignment with net-zero.
I would like to thank those who have contributed to our work over the last two years; the dedicated secretariat for long hours spent supporting the independent spirits who made up this Commission; the Commissioners themselves, who despite coming from different backgrounds and representing very different constituencies have worked collegiately, always striving for consensus; and finally the many people who have shared their views with us, attended meetings and events, or submitted written evidence.
At the end of this year Scotland will be front and centre of the international stage as COP26 comes to Glasgow. Our nation's approach to just transition is something we want to be proud of, an experience we can share with our overseas guests. A new Government will take office in May, facing many challenges. Recognising the just transition to net-zero as a national mission opens so many opportunities, helping heal the harms of the pandemic, while resetting our pathway to net-zero. The advice in this report is intended to be aspirational, while remaining in line with our remit to deliver practical, affordable and realistic recommendations for action.
It gives me great pleasure and personal satisfaction to commend this report to the next Government, and to you.
Professor Jim Skea