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Scotland's Just Transition

17 June 2019

On 5 June two of our Steering Group were invited to attend the first evidence gathering session of Scotland’s Just Transition Commission (JTC). SSN Chair Kate Dapré and Steering Group member Duncan Booker both attended the meeting. Scottish Borders Council also sent a representative. Below is a brief account of the day from the perspective of our Chair Kate Dapré.

The Just Transition Commission is a diverse mix of academics, third sector, unions, power sector, environmental groups and housing groups. The Commission is chaired by Professor Jim Skea and other members include Professor Karen Turner of Strathclyde University and Charlotte Hartley from the 2050 Climate Group.

A fair transition for all

The remit of the JTC is to consider the impact of the transition to a net-zero Scotland on a range of areas including the economy, jobs, social welfare, education and skills. The Commission will conclude with recommendations to the Scottish Government to ensure that the principles of a Just Transition are applied to Scotland’s net zero future.

The aim is to ensure that this transition does not disproportionately disadvantage certain sectors of society.

Asking questions

The Commission posed a number of questions for participants to respond to individually and as a group.

Questions included: How well do you think Scotland is doing in terms of a transition to net-zero? Where do you see employment opportunities coming in your own areas (in relation to climate change programmes)? How are you planning to fund required climate change projects with no adverse impact on salaries, jobs, etc? How can the public sector influence net-zero, and how can it maximise leadership opportunities?

Holistic approach

There was discussion around the public sector’s role as influencers and leaders. Including the need for a ‘whole-systems’ approach and more collaboration across different sectors.

SSN’s Kate Dapré encouraged the Commission to take a holistic approach in order to ensure that climate change solutions do not become the privilege of the wealthy.

We need real solutions for the most vulnerable

Kate used the example of low-carbon transport: If we want people to ditch their petrol/diesel cars and use public transport or active travel, we need to have reliable, affordable and consistent solutions. You can take a bus from the NHS National Services Scotland office in Edinburgh to the Scottish Government offices in the centre for £1.70. A journey of the same distance in Glasgow costs four times that amount. In some of the most deprived areas it is cheaper for a group of commuters to use Uber together.

Kate also highlighted the need to address the spark gap (the difference between gas and electricity prices). In Scotland 1 in 4 families are in fuel poverty at an annual cost to the NHS of around £80 million. If you push everyone to an all-electric solution with a decarbonised grid without addressing price, more families will simply be pushed into fuel poverty and increase the adverse impact on the NHS.

Next steps

The Commission will continue to meet over the next 18 months in order to ultimately put forward a set of recommendations to policy makers. Recommendations will advise on how to achieve a transition to net zero that is fair to all and ensure that no one is left behind.

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