Just Transition Commission: A National Mission for a fairer, greener Scotland

The Just Transition Commission started work in early 2019, with a remit to provide practical and affordable recommendations to Scottish Ministers. This report sets out their view of the key opportunities and challenges for Scotland and recommends practical steps to achieving a just transition

Where we are now

Before thinking about what we may need to do to deliver a just transition to net-zero, it is important to take stock of the current context in Scotland, and focus minds on what we seek to achieve with this report.

In this section we describe the opportunities and challenges of a just transition from the perspective of individual sectors, heavily informed by the evidence we have collected over the last two years. We have included quotes throughout from our open call for evidence to help place our narrative in its proper context.

Looking at individual sectors has its limitations - after all, the world does not work in neat silos - and understanding how systems interact is key. This is recognised in the updated Climate Change Plan, which combines sectoral policies and proposals with discussion of the need for a coordinated, holistic action.[4]

Referring to specific sectors helps speak directly to particular groups of stakeholders. However, we stress that addressing many of the issues highlighted here requires working across traditional boundaries. We return to these points in subsequent sections.

The future of our energy system

Our energy sector has changed massively over the last decade and will continue to evolve as we move towards net-zero. The clearest expression of this is our electricity system, where carbon intensity has fallen by nearly 90% between 2000 and 2018. We've seen the shift away from coal power generation and increase in renewable energy which has seen us decarbonise, while being able to produce more electricity than we need here in Scotland.[5] The energy system will continue to change: the updated Climate Change Plan sees continued growth in offshore wind generation and the roll-out of technologies that remove greenhouse gases from the air.

The sector has long been a source of well-paid employment, offering skilled opportunities for many across the country.[6] This must continue to be the case and there are real growth and export opportunities associated with the continued deployment of renewable energy and low-carbon technologies. From a just transition perspective there are clear challenges to manage in the years ahead. Many of these will be emblematic of the manner in which the success or failure of a just transition in Scotland will be judged.

In the North Sea, we will see growth in decommissioning and activity to repurpose infrastructure for a net-zero future, with a decline in the demand for oil and gas and associated traditional activity. The Climate Change Committee have said they anticipate domestic oil consumption for the UK in 2050 to be over 80% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Demand for natural gas is also expected to fall, although potentially not at the same rate. There will still be a place for domestic supply in a net-zero economy, but a just transition must mean managing the inevitable decline in demand.[7]

The number of jobs supported by the oil and gas sector is still significant. However, the sector was hard hit last year by a combination of low oil prices and low demand resulting from the pandemic. This has an impact on people and businesses across Scotland, but much of the impact is focussed on the north east. Recent data has shown the decline in payroll (PAYE) employment in the north east has been at nearly twice the rate of that seen across Scotland as a whole.[8]

This serves to emphasise the imposing and immediate, strategic challenge facing us. We need to rapidly set out how we will create the conditions for an orderly transition and, in the space of a generation, replace the value and economic gain that has been supported by the oil and gas industry for decades. This is complicated by the fact that many of the policy levers key to delivering a managed transition are reserved to the UK Government.

Scotland's carbon-intensive industries possess a heritage of innovation and problem solving, both of which could be harnessed to develop creative and workable solutions to the net-zero challenge. This is particularly true of the North Sea oil and gas industry. However, it will be important to strike a balance between supporting the industry in adapting to a just transition and maintaining an emphasis on the importance of decarbonisation.

Royal Society of Edinburgh – opportunities / challenges of the transition[9]

We will need to drastically increase the pace of change, and create the conditions that will help businesses throughout the supply chain diversify. This is already happening with many examples of businesses expanding their operations towards new markets and technologies. The supply chain will need time to invest, and demand will need to be there for their services. Initiatives such as the Energy Transition Fund will help in this space, and can be built on and strengthened in the years ahead.[10] In parallel, we need to be considering how to help and support people currently working in the sector adapt to a new future and enable them to put the skills they have developed in oil and gas towards driving our net-zero transition.

Offshore wind capacity will continue to grow with opportunities to build on successes to date in design, operations and maintenance. But, so far, we have not maximised domestic economic opportunities from the creation of a strong local manufacturing supply chain. Some companies based in Scotland, particularly in design, operations and maintenance, have had success in the renewable sector.[11] [12] Many others have been able to enter export markets and grow their business abroad.[13] This has been based on the efforts of many in Government and industry, and should not be disregarded. Continuing to grow this very healthy segment of our supply chain can support a just transition in our energy sector.

The growth in renewable energy here in Scotland has allowed many companies to expand, and provide good quality jobs across a strong supply chain. But this has been combined with a great deal of disappointment that, to date, we have been unable to create a thriving, competitive manufacturing base for renewables. The significance of our lack of a strong local manufacturing supply chain is reinforced when we consider that the operation of offshore wind will support far less labour than oil and gas production.

Our failure to create and sustain alternative high skill, high wage, mass employment threatens to undermine trust in efforts to pursue a just transition amongst Scottish workers and their communities. There are significant concerns amongst some workers, communities and their representatives that, based on experiences to date, the transition will not lead to substantive new opportunities, and will be anything but just in the way it impacts them. As we outlined in the introduction, climate action will not be sustained without addressing these concerns head-on.

The reasons for failing to create a thriving manufacturing base are many and well-rehearsed. They include a lack of investment in fabrication and construction alongside lack of progress towards improving ports and harbour infrastructure identified over a decade ago.[14] Through the course of our work, we heard concerns about an uneven playing-field, with Scottish-based companies competing against overseas manufacturers who are often state-subsidised.[15] We can also point to the Contracts for Difference price stabilisation mechanism, which while incredibly successful in driving cost down, neglects domestic capital content and employment standards.

In the immediate term, what is the opportunity for changing this situation? We are near the now-or-never point for fixed-bottom offshore wind, and quick action would be needed to carve out a share of manufacturing content for the upcoming round of projects. The UK Government has consulted on changes to the CfD mechanism. This offers some hope, but direct government support would still be needed to make Scottish business competitive. The current ScotWind leasing round offers another possible lever to help nurture the domestic supply chain, though its resolution is uncertain following the recent announcement to delay the process.[16]

Scotwind leasing will deliver a step change in offshore energy generation over the next two decades, providing significant opportunity for making progress toward our net-zero targets and a range of economic development opportunities … Scotland's deeper waters, for example, offer tremendous potential for floating offshore wind development and innovation.

Crown Estate Scotland – opportunities of the transition[17]

The deployment of offshore floating wind turbines and tidal technology, whilst slightly further into the future, offers promise given the many crossovers with oil and gas. From experience, we can't simply assume this promise will materialise. Scotland currently hosts two demonstrator projects for floating wind but the supply chain content tells the same story as for offshore wind – overseas content in manufacturing and construction, with domestic content restricted to operations and maintenance.[18] The situation is similar for other emerging technologies.

All of the above illustrates the challenge of declining employment in oil and gas. The opportunities presented by continued growth in renewable energy are still there. But we will need to work at pace to capture an increased share of manufacturing, while continuing growth in areas of success to date. As a nation we need to be a supplier of net-zero solutions, and not restrict ourselves to being a buyer from other nations if we are to fully capitalise on the opportunities. At the same time, skills traditionally in demand in the oil and gas sector will need to be supported to transition to the wider energy sector and, indeed, other areas of the economy.

With electricity providing zero-carbon energy for many household energy needs, the distribution of costs and benefits associated with localised flexible, renewable electricity must be fair. There is much potential for exciting innovation in the consumer market for energy. New and emerging ways of buying and selling electricity (such as time of use tariffs and peer to peer trading) have the potential to offer savings for consumers. Such innovation will be vital for delivering a net-zero electricity system that is affordable.

A successful transition would result in communities of well-informed, respected consumers, who are able to engage with future energy systems, empowered by confidence in the corresponding safety nets.

Citizens Advice Scotland – positive vision for 2045[19]

However, if left to the market, such innovation comes with potential for new injustice,[20] and possibly even higher costs for some. Protection is needed for those who may be left behind because they are unable to take advantage of these new types of tariff. Accessing such innovative products requires finance, time, IT skills, or even something as simple as a good broadband connection. Plenty can be done to address this and ensure everyone gains from the shift to smart, zero carbon energy, but it will require concerted action from government, regulators and companies to make it happen.

Alongside this, the way our future energy system is paid for is another possible source of injustice. For example, to date, additional charges have been added to electricity bills. This penalises less well-off consumers who often have no choice but to use electricity for heating and spend a greater proportion of their incomes on energy. There is emerging consensus of the need to find a better way of paying for and delivering the energy system we need to reach net-zero.

The future of our industrial base

Scotland retains an industrial base in sectors such as chemicals and food and drink, providing jobs across the country. Retaining – and growing – manufacturing as we move to a net-zero economy can be a good example of just transition in action.

The story of how Scotland lost much of its heavy industry through the 70s and 80s is well known and an example of how not to manage structural change. There was little in the way of a "just transition" for communities and families reliant on coal mining as pit closures swept the country. Decades later the impacts of this can still be felt.

We need to be aspirational, and aim for Scotland to be at forefront of net-zero industrial revolution. Focusing solely on the challenges facing existing industry can sometimes obscure the opportunities the transition to net-zero will bring Scotland. High value-added jobs in design, research and innovation will be needed to develop the solutions needed to meet net-zero. There are new and exciting areas for development, where Scotland could be well positioned to lead and build competitive advantage by being a "first-mover". These include re-purposing our industrial facilities, thermal electricity generation and infrastructure to support Carbon Capture and Storage and Hydrogen. In the nearer term, we must build on our existing domestic manufacture in energy efficiency materials, heat pumps, and electric buses.

Recent developments bringing Scotland's first biorefinery to Grangemouth, where it sits alongside traditional heavy industry, are an example of the kinds of exciting opportunities that will arise.[21] Capturing carbon at power stations and industrial sites and storing it far off the coast underground is another example: by 2030, early estimates suggest that between 7,000 and 45,000 UK jobs could be associated with Scotland securing a 40% share of the carbon storage element of a European carbon market.[22] The groundwork is in place for advancing this ambition, as can be seen in the work of NECCUS – a not-for-profit alliance of Government, industry and academia - around which momentum has been growing. This group has been successful in winning public and private funding to develop a roadmap for the transition of Scotland's high emission industries to a net-zero economy.[23]

The north east of Scotland, and particularly Aberdeen, will require investment in projects and a skilled workforce that facilitate a just transition in the region … An area of economic opportunity and research revolves around the governance of hydrogen in terms of investment, storage, heating and transport …

Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law – opportunities / challenges of the transition[24]

A key challenge is the need to retain and decarbonise our existing industry, while creating policy that allows for new opportunities to grow. This will involve mobilising investment, changing regulation, stimulating innovation and creating a holistic plan and vision that enables new industries to flourish. Many of the levers sit with the UK Government in this space. However, there is still much the Scottish Government can do to place us in a leadership position. On-going commitment – such as currently offered by the Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund – will help give the best possible chance that our net-zero transition both protects and creates jobs in our industrial sectors.

Decarbonising industry has been linked with a threat of offshoring emissions and jobs, as we "transition out" of some activities. Energy intensive industries remain an important source of employment in Scotland. Manufacturing as a share of the economy may have fallen over the last several decades, but it still employs around 180,000 people and accounts for roughly half the value of Scotland's exports.[25] Much of this is concentrated in particular geographic areas, where there may be fewer alternative employment options.

Aside from the level of employment, which is significant, these industries can support relatively high-wage jobs both directly and indirectly. Evidence for Scotland's Chemicals sector, for example, demonstrates that it supports higher than average wages both directly and through its supply chain.[26] Industrial decarbonisation must happen in a way that maintains competitiveness and, as far as possible, retains these jobs through the transition.

It is important to recognise that companies will come under pressure to decarbonise not just due to national-level targets on climate change. There is growing pressure on companies and investors to disclose how activities and assets will impact (and be impacted by) climate change. Climate-related financial disclosures will become mandatory for some organisations in the near future,[27] helping to drive investment toward net-zero compatible activities.

The risk of offshoring – both of jobs and emissions – is felt by many to be a real danger. There is plenty of evidence that key process industries in Scotland are especially subject to strong competition from abroad and compete largely on the basis of price. In the absence of global markets for more costly 'green' products, an increased push for decarbonisation without a supportive policy framework risks a decline in domestic manufacturing and job losses.

Simply exporting the emissions and associated environmental impacts of the essential products society requires does not represent a sustainable solution to a global challenge.

Mineral Products Association – challenges of the transition[28]

While managed decarbonisation will always be the preferred solution, we do need to recognise the risk of these aspirations being overtaken by global market forces. For a just transition, policymakers will need to be flexible. The primary aim must be to support industry to decarbonise, and capture any benefits as a nation that result from being a "first mover" in this global shift. But as a last resort, policymakers must also be prepared to step in to provide support to people and places should we see industrial employment decline here in Scotland, despite our best efforts.

We need to remember there are still important links between industry and place and that people need to feel that the transition is being done with them, rather than to them. Industrial sites are linked to the communities that host them in many ways. Links may have been stronger in the past when industrial employment dominated local labour markets, but they are still there and they are still important. Opportunities for genuine social partnership – bringing business, trade unions, communities and government together – will either need to be developed, or strengthened where they already exist.

Grangemouth has an opportunity to act as a demonstrator for net zero transition in Scotland. There would be new, cleaner industries and innovation centres developing the technology such as; CCUS, hydrogen and community energy, that will enable the transition at pace. We will work with our communities and industry to generate support for these plans.

Falkirk Council – positive vision for 2045[29]

If despite our best efforts, offshoring of jobs should occur at significant levels, we will also have to consider place-based funding to diversify regional economies. During our work we heard concerns that current funding sources, such as through City Region Deals, was not sufficient on its own to support diversification in areas reliant on carbon intensive industry. There are industries that are of particular national significance to Scotland, and policy and funding will need to recognise this. Ongoing uncertainty around the UK Government's Shared Prosperity Fund makes it more difficult to design and plan for future place-based support schemes to support a just transition.

Just transition must embed economic opportunities in communities to ensure a place-based approach which links together the distinct business, labour market, natural, environmental and social assets, opportunities and challenges of any area.

Scottish Enterprise – opportunities of the transition[30]

Our buildings and how we heat them

Delivering a just transition for Scotland is not just about managing the impact on workers in carbon-intensive sectors. Our broad perspective on just transition recognises the net-zero transition as an opportunity to advance a range of social justice issues in our country, including the need for improved housing. While the scale of the challenge is not in doubt, the transition is a great opportunity to deliver on jobs and warmer homes, in more sustainable, healthier communities.

While emissions from our buildings have fallen over the last couple of decades, they remain high with the vast majority of households still heated by gas boilers. The updated Climate Change Plan sees a rapid roll-out of energy efficiency measures over the next decade alongside adoption of alternative heat technologies, such as heat pumps, heat networks and, potentially, hydrogen. This in itself is ambitious, and there is the added challenge of managing such rapid work alongside statutory targets for reducing fuel poverty. Policy is fast moving in this area, with the Scottish Government recently launching the Heat in Buildings Strategy consultation which touches on many of the issues we raise here.[31]

Improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock offers a genuine opportunity to improve people's lives. It can be easy to get drawn into focusing solely on the challenges associated with decarbonising our buildings. But pushing on and accelerating the pace of our current energy efficiency programmes, particularly those targeted at the most vulnerable, presents the rare opportunity of a triple win. It benefits the climate, it improves the health and wellbeing of people, and can create and sustain jobs across the economy.[32] How we pay for this is crucial, with public and private finance needed. But it is important to remember that improving health and wellbeing through better housing could lead to reductions in expenditure elsewhere. [33]

Our heating system was no longer efficient and was costing us too much money to run. The house was constantly cold and having a small child always led to worrying about staying warm, so we knew something had to be done. Being a single parent and receiving this help makes it one less thing to worry about bill wise because it has reduced hugely ... It has made a huge impact on me and my child and makes me very happy knowing I get to come home to a warm house.

Recipient of Warmworks Scotland support[34]

For new buildings we must use levers such as the planning system and building regulations to prioritise the creation of homes that are warm, safe and affordable to run, no matter what level of income the residents have. The pandemic has magnified the influence good housing and place has on wellbeing. We must not return to building housing developments that embed high-carbon ways of living and do not support our wellbeing.

Communities that are not designed for "people" are being disproportionately impacted by what is happening now (the pandemic) and will not be adaptive to climate change and the situation will only get worse if the centralisation of services continues.

Architecture and Design Scotland – opportunities / challenges of the transition[35]

We need to take urgent action to decarbonise heating while ensuring that fuel poverty does not increase and taking account of consumer issues, such as overall cost. Far too many people in Scotland still live in fuel poverty, and are forced to choose between heating their home and other basic necessities. Scotland has a statutory target to reduce fuel poverty to no more than 5% of Scottish households by 2040. Costs vary, but in general it is currently more expensive to run a low-carbon heating system than alternatives such as gas boilers. Rural and islands communities are especially vulnerable to changes to the cost of heating due to the prevalence of housing stock with poor energy efficiency in these areas, combined with limited choice of feasible heating systems.

So there is a challenge here for policymakers to design finance and regulatory frameworks that deliver reduced emissions from our housing stock, while not pushing more households into fuel poverty. Some recent proposals for accelerating this transition include rebalancing of levies from electricity consumers to gas consumers.[36] But care is needed with any such changes to fully work through the distributional impacts. In our interim report we called on the Scottish Government to undertake such analysis of its heat decarbonisation policies, which we were pleased to see was committed to in the updated Climate Change Plan.[37] Understanding the impact of national policies on households will be the first step in delivering a heat transition that works for consumers and protects vulnerable households.

There is a need to win hearts and minds, and to design solutions that work for people. Getting to net-zero will not just be about choosing what technologies to pick. It will be just as much about engaging with people and helping to change social attitudes. Reducing emissions from our buildings will be more disruptive and noticeable than decarbonising our electricity supply.

In many hard-pressed families, there is no recognition of net-zero. They will have many other issues to deal with. They could feel further alienated or excluded from moves towards net-zero if it isn't well communicated.

Energy Action Scotland – groups affected by the transition[38]

This will mean developing new business models that keep costs down and avoid high installation charges, whilst supporting heat decarbonisation. Examples include Heat as a Service, which the Scottish Government is exploring as a potential route to low-carbon heating in Scotland.[39] In some cases the public sector may have more of a role, such as in the roll-out of District Heat Schemes. Further investigation may be needed to determine the most cost-effective models for such schemes. We saw an example of such a scheme when we visited Aberdeen Heat and Power, a not-for-profit organisation originally established by the Council, which is providing affordable heat to thousands of households and other users.[40]

The transition has been carefully planned, involving stakeholders, and engaging with householders and communities to identify the tailored solutions to suit the people, properties, and the opportunities in the area/neighbourhood. In this way, householders, landlords and tenants are supportive of the transition, understand what they need to do, by when, and why, and receive financial and handholding support to ensure they are not disadvantaged.

Existing Homes Alliance – positive vision for 2045[41]

The move to low-carbon, smart heating, can bring benefits to consumers. The most effective way of delivering this potentially disruptive change is to work with people. Designing and testing solutions with households will always be preferable to imposing solutions on them. Our approach to this challenge needs to have people at its heart. The backlash against implementation of new regulations on smoke and carbon dioxide alarms shows how this can go wrong, and we must not risk the same happening for our transition to net-zero.[42] Strong and agile consumer protections will also be needed to keep up with the pace of change in the heat market while ensuring no households are stranded with failing technologies.

While consumer issues dominate much of the discussion in this area, the workforce transition is also crucial. Mobilising investment in heat and energy efficiency will create jobs and new opportunities, both in installation, construction-related trades and manufacturing.[43] In terms of installation and maintenance, increasing support will be needed to help people upskill to access these opportunities and keep pace with the rate of roll-out needed for new heat technologies.

Several sites in Scotland already manufacture heat pumps, while programmes like Energy Efficient Scotland have potential to support thousands of jobs across the country. If nurtured with supportive supply chain policies, this could grow and more than offset any decline in activity associated with the current heat supply chain. The development of the Heat Pump Sector Deal is one such initiative that can be a catalyst for growth in this space.[44]

Challenges for plumbing and heating businesses may be things such as employment, skills and training. As with any transition, it will be required that the workforce be mobilised and upskilled… Financial support to join schemes and gain education would also be beneficial to businesses looking to make a transition.

Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Federation – opportunities / challenges of the transition[45]

But this shift needs to be managed. There are thousands of registered Gas-Safe engineers in Scotland, many of whom are employed in small and micro enterprises. This group needs to be supported, in order to develop the necessary skills to take on the work of installing and maintaining new heating systems. The transition may also be an opportunity to raise working standards. Concerns have been raised about the construction industry, in particular, as a sector that needs to do more to embed Fair Work. Where public money is being spent supporting retrofit programmes Government should not shy away from being prescriptive about working practices.[46]

... there are considerable opportunities to build on the success of existing programmes in this context. The apprenticeships and training provided under the Scottish Government's Warmer Homes Scotland (WHS) scheme is a useful example here. The programme's objectives include that WHS will 'provide benefits to the wider community through vocational training and employment opportunities'.

Energy Savings Trust – opportunities of the transition[47]

How our transport system works

The ways in which Scotland's transport system must change to meet net-zero will impact on many people's daily lives. While recognising the challenge of this, when combined with changes we must make to our buildings, there is real opportunity to build a transport system that improves our health and wellbeing as a nation. Rather than focus on the challenge posed by decarbonisation, we argue that the net-zero transition presents an opportunity to do things differently.

The priority we have given to car users for many decades will need to shift to other modes of transportation. Tough decisions on infrastructure and regulations will be needed if we are to meet Scotland's ambition to reduce car miles travelled 20% by 2030.[48] The transport system has been particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, making planning ahead difficult. Public transport has been hard hit, with no guarantee passenger numbers will immediately bounce back even once the threat of the pandemic declines.

We should not shy away from tackling the many undesirable features of our current transport system. These range from health problems caused by air pollution to the way it can reinforce problems of social exclusion.

The transition offers an opportunity to build a low-carbon transport system that actively promotes equality, allowing people convenient access to the services they need. Good, affordable transport can enable people to access jobs, education and recreational opportunities. All of this helps build wellbeing and can contribute to raising household income and lifting people out of poverty. This is already recognised in the National Transport Strategy,[49] which is underpinned by four principles – reduced inequalities, improved climate, inclusive growth, and improved health and wellbeing. Delivering on this vision will go a long way towards making Scotland a healthier, fairer country and can be a demonstration of just transition in action.

... public transport disproportionally … serves young people, women, black and ethnic minorities and people living in poverty. Therefore any money invested in expanding and improving public transport will disproportionately benefit these groups, and therefore actively address existing inequalities.

Get Glasgow Moving – groups affected by the transition[50]

A fair low-carbon transport system will need to recognise the different needs of communities and users, and focus firmly on people not cars. For example, rural communities have very specific transport needs and challenges. Similarly the rights and needs of people living with protected characteristics, such as disability, must be respected. Building a transport system fair for everyone will need to be based on the principle of participation, and giving marginalised groups affected by any changes a voice. Renewed effort will be needed, and fresh energy must be injected into existing accessibility strategies if we are to build a low-carbon transport system that addresses this.

…it will be essential to ensure that people and communities are not left behind as we transition to net-zero. In particular, communities and individuals whose life chances are restricted by poverty and ill health. Also people with a disability who must have improved access to the opportunities that most people enjoy including access to employment, education, training, healthcare and links to friends and family.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport – groups affected by the transition[51]

We need to balance the way costs and benefits are distributed as we transition to a low-carbon transport system. Emissions from transport are not distributed equally among the population. A large proportion of flights are taken by a relatively small group of individuals and car ownership follows a clear income gradient, at least for urban areas.[52]

Rural and remote car users may not have public transport options, yet may have little choice but to switch to electric vehicles (EVs) - and while overall costs are expected to fall below that of fossil fuel vehicles this decade there are higher upfront costs with EV's.[53] This is a critical point when thinking about how to reduce emissions from transport. If managed well, building a low-carbon transport system can improve social inclusion. But equally, the changes might simply deepen existing inequalities.

Deliberate action is needed to balance the costs and benefits arising from the move to low-carbon transport. Existing incentive schemes that provide a discount and loans for new purchases, have not made EVs accessible to low-income households. We welcome the introduction of the Scottish Government's Low-Emission Zones support fund, which offers incentives for low-income households to take more polluting vehicles off the road and move towards more sustainable travel modes.[54] Such schemes will be vital to protect those least able to pay as low-emission zone requirements are tightened in the future.

… a comprehensive national plan of preventative spending on active travel will save the country money through mental and physical health improvements. Quality of life will improve by joining this up with planning decisions, and with investment in the planning, design, management and maintenance of green spaces by Councils.

Unison Scotland – opportunities of the transition[55]

Carefully designed policy interventions are needed to ensure current inequalities in mobility and accessibility are not deepened by the transition. Road space will need to be reallocated from car user towards other modes, offering the prospect of cleaner air, less congestion, fewer road traffic accidents and improved population health.[56] Many of these steps will lead to changes in the way we use and own cars, but they are needed if we want a low-carbon transport system that improves access and equity.

An electric vehicle-centred transition could have an adverse effect on economically disadvantaged communities, further embedding existing inequalities ... People living in areas of the highest disadvantage are also more likely to be negatively impacted by air pollution and road safety. This underlines the need for the transition to deliver a balanced transport system, in which active travel and public transport should be prioritised.

Sustrans Scotland – groups affected by the transition[57]

And we still need to understand and manage the impact of the mobility transition on jobs. In our Green Recovery report we talked about public transport and the potential for investment from Government to support good quality jobs in both manufacturing and operations. That very much remains the case, and we are pleased to see some of the commitments Government has made in this area. Other fledgling opportunities exist, such as the potential to manufacture trains at the former site of Longannet power station and efforts being made to develop the former Michelin site in Dundee. Good quality employment is currently offered through our railways and public transport, with on-going modal shift offering the prospect of increasing this.

However, the mobility transition will also need to take account of wider impacts on employment. For example, the motor trade in Scotland employs thousands, but the shift to electric vehicles will fundamentally change the skills needed to service cars and may even reduce overall demand for motor services.[58] Like other sectors, active support for retraining and upskilling will be needed to both ensure no-one is left behind, and so we have the workforce we need to enable our transition.

40% of the responses … stated more training opportunities should be made available to people. Respondents cited specific training opportunities, such as the lack of skills in most local garages for repairing EVs. Some of the respondents expressed concerns on the impact that the transition to a green transport system could have on people's livelihoods.

2050 Climate Group[59]

How we use and manage our land

Our land will be vital in delivering our climate change ambition, providing us with sustainably farmed local produce, vastly increased woodland cover, and restored peatlands, which in turn will all improve biodiversity. With more integrated approaches to land use, the net-zero transition presents opportunities to look afresh at how the potential of Scotland's land can be maximised. The transition will mean more and more is demanded from our land. The scale of change needed is made clear by the Climate Change Committee - the way we use as much as a fifth of our current agricultural land may need to change in order to reach net-zero.

How our land is managed, and who benefits from it, has attracted a great deal of interest in Scotland. We have an unusually concentrated pattern of land ownership, when compared with other nations,[60] with many arguing that the status quo is both unfair and a barrier to realising the full potential of our land. The level of investment needed to bring about the transition to net-zero is likely to intensify this debate. Bringing about such sweeping changes may risk new injustices emerging, but equally may introduce fresh impetus for reform and a fairer way of managing our land and spreading the benefits widely.

We need to acknowledge and manage competing priorities for how land is used. Scotland has plenty of experience of disagreements about how land use decisions are made, both historically and in the present day. There is a perception that communities are often not adequately consulted on decisions that affect how the land around them is used.[61] There are tensions that can arise from competing agendas such as between recreational uses and woodland expansion in rural settings. Similar tensions can be found in urban settings too, where economic development interests can be at odds with community benefit. Across Scotland, there is a common perception that land is not necessarily used in the best interests of communities.[62]

With ever greater demands being placed on our land, there is a need for robust governance frameworks for preventing conflicts, resolving them when they arise and, in general, encouraging a more participatory approach to land use decisions and management. Some of the building blocks for this are in place following development of Scottish Government guidance on engaging communities and the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement by the Scottish Land Commission.[63] Five Regional Land Use Partnership pilots were also recently announced, with the aim to "help national and local government, communities, land owners and stakeholders work together to find ways to optimise land use in a fair and inclusive way - meeting local and national objectives and supporting the journey to net zero".[64] However, frameworks and governance arrangements will need to be reviewed and strengthened as we transition to net-zero.

Increasingly, there is also recognition that many land use decisions made over the last few decades have had a negative impact on biodiversity. Investing in peatland and woodlands can (and must) be done in a way which also supports the restoration of our biodiversity, recognising that this may require a shift in what society currently attaches value to.

Huge investment in restoring peatlands, tree planting and woodland management is required – we need to ensure the benefits that can arise from this are felt widely by rural communities. A just transition will need to account for the current injustices associated with land use in Scotland, and the wider challenges faced by many rural communities. Large amounts of investment will need to flow into land management, from both private and public sources.

Economic benefits from Scotland's land resources should be shared more equitably within local communities as a matter of social justice, while also ensuring that the wider public benefits generated by these resources are safeguarded and promoted.

Community Land Scotland – opportunities of the transition[65]

Part of ensuring a just transition must be about making sure the benefits of investment in carbon sequestration are felt as widely as possible. Without careful design and meaningful engagement there is a risk that benefits may flow mainly to large landowners and opportunities for community benefit will be missed.

Many in the agriculture sector have concerns that the net-zero transition will see people lose their livelihoods and fundamentally change their way of life. We need to reduce emissions from agriculture, while leaving no one behind. The challenge in the sector is sometimes framed as a zero-sum game which can discourage engagement: often the perception is that for emissions to reduce, some types of farming will have to change and some farmers will find it harder to adapt. However, a suite of mitigation measures are available, many of which should be rolled out immediately which will not only reduce emissions, but also improve efficiency, animal health, productivity and in many cases save money in the long-run.[66]

Scottish farmers and crofters should be supported and empowered to make decisions that are best for individual businesses, for climate change targets and for the wider environment

National Farmers Union Scotland – positive vision for 2045[67]

A just transition for agriculture will need to incorporate raising awareness of the challenges a changing climate will bring to the farming sector, such as more extreme weather, flooding, droughts, crop and livestock health impacts, as well as identifying ways in which the sector can adapt to these challenges and achieve emissions reductions. Action over the next ten years will be crucial. Clarity about what action is required and how support can be accessed is essential to ensure theses changes can be made fairly.

Compared with other sectors, relatively low proportions of those working in agriculture have formal qualifications or engage in regular Continuing Professional Development and there will be a need to work with farmers and land managers in order to develop new skills.[68] We need a new model of farm advice, with advisory services upscaled and upskilled to help farmers and land managers identify suitable climate action for their land holdings and the funding streams to deliver them. Fairness may also mean supporting generational change within the industry, with farmers who wish to retire or leave the sector being helped to do so in a fair and dignified way. We will need to encourage new entrants into the sector and work to remove some of the barriers they face. Similarly, we need to address any barriers that prevent tenant farmers participating in carbon sequestration programmes.

There are opportunities to strengthen the Scottish food brand by producing affordable quality food with a low-carbon footprint using sustainable methods … Scotland could see a more integrated approach to land management, with more focus on multiple uses/benefits of land.

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association – opportunities of the transition[69]

Margins are often low and the UK's exit from the European Union (and withdrawal from the Common Agricultural Policy) has increased uncertainty and unease regarding the future of agriculture in Scotland. However, the upcoming reform of the subsidy mechanism for the sector brings an opportunity to redirect money towards activity that better protects and maintains our land, and supports more sustainable food production. Recent work by NatureScot has demonstrated the opportunities arising from a shift towards subsidies targeted at nature and climate outcomes, particularly for those farm systems, such as hill sheep and crofts, on the margins of economic viability and under-rewarded by the current model of rural support.[70] This, alone, will not deliver a just transition and we will also need to rebuild the connection between consumers and local produce, through integrated food policy, to reward farmers who implement more sustainable methods.


Email: Justtransitioncommission@gov.scot

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