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Just Transition

Scottish Government briefing note for public sector


The Scottish Government is committed to developing Just Transition Plans across economic sectors and regions. Planning will be crucial to ensure that the economic and social opportunities from the transition to net zero are not missed and that risks associated with rapid structural change are mitigated.

Our ambitious approach builds on our world-first National Just Transition Planning Framework and sets out how we will be working with others on the economic and social impacts of transition.

National Just Transition Planning Framework (published last September) sets out how we will work with others to manage the economic and social impacts – ensuring we are capitalising on the opportunities and managing the risks to the Scottish economy.

The Scottish Government is advised by the Just Transition Commission on our approach to Just Transition Plans.

The Scottish Government is committed to co-designing Just Transition Plans with those most impacted by the transition. The Plans will be informed by the Just Transition Commission, businesses, communities, and workers and their trade unions across Scotland, and by those who are most impacted, including those who experience of discrimination, poverty and wider inequalities

Just Transition Planning Framework sets out eight national outcomes:

  • Supporting citizens, communities and place in affected regions,
  • Jobs, skills and education,
  • Fair distribution of costs and benefits and addressing inequality,
  • Support strong, dynamic business and economy and high quality employment,
  • Adaptation and resilience in the economy,
  • Environmental protection and restoration, respecting planetary boundaries,
  • Resource efficient, sustainable decarbonisation, avoiding carbon 'lock-in',
  • Equality and human rights implementation, addressing fuel poverty and child poverty.

The £500 million Just Transition Fund is supporting projects in the North East and Moray which contribute towards the region’s transition to net zero. The Fund has allocated £75 million to date, supporting projects and communities across the North East and Moray to create jobs, support innovation, and secure the highly skilled workforce of the future. The £75 million in funding support is comprised of:

  • a £50 million capital grant programme supporting 24 projects, including £1 million per annum ringfenced specifically for community projects through Just Transition Participatory Budgeting (PB) and;
  • £25 million allocated to the Scottish National Investment Bank for 2023-24, to be invested in the North East, to support a Just Transition to net zero.

Consultation on the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan ran from January to May 2023. Just transition principles include: maximising the economic benefits of the net zero transition; fair distribution of benefits, opportunities and risks; inclusive and fair process of co-design with stakeholders, trade unions and the public; Energy Transition Fund; Just Transition Fund; maintaining or increasing employment in Scotland’s energy production sector against a decline in North Sea production, for example through low carbon technologies including new technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen; workforce skills; supply chain jobs; access to affordable green energy; community benefit.

On 20 June, three discussion papers covering sectors that make up the majority of Scotland’s emissions - Transport, Built Environment and Construction, and Land Use and Agriculture) were published to support engagement and co-design throughout summer and early autumn 2023, leading to draft targeted action plans and route maps to be published for formal consultation in late 2023 / early 2024. The discussion papers provide sectoral context; an overview of priority issues and discussion prompts to encourage conversation on just transition.

The first Site Plan, for Grangemouth, is planned for drafting in 2024, with Regional Just Transition Plans to follow at a later date.

International progress and the Just Transition Taskforce

The Scottish government is also committed to driving international progress on just transition and build on our COP26 legacy with members of the Under 2 Coalition. We have doubled our initial commitment of £100,000 to the Under2 Coalition Secretariat to develop a Just Transition Taskforce, to facilitate knowledge-sharing between members of the Coalition. The Taskforce aims to advance an international approach to just transition that embeds climate justice principles.

Over its first year, the Taskforce met on several occasions, building a knowledge hub for members of the Under2 Coalition committed to pursuing a just transition. Currently there are 11 active states and region members including California, Gauteng, Western Cape, North Bank, Cross River state, Wales and Quebec. Recently at its third convening we brought together representatives form 20 different states worldwide across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

Statutory Provisions

Section 24 of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 substitutes a new section 35 on national Climate Change Plan in the 2009 Act. Section 35(20) sets out that, with reference to the just transition principles of section 35C, the Climate Change Plan must explain expected effects on sectors of the economy and regions, including employment, and set out policies for supporting the workforce, employers and communities.

Section 35C “just transition principles” are the importance of taking action to reduce emissions in a way which:

(a) supports environmentally and socially sustainable jobs,

(b) supports low-carbon investment and infrastructure,

(c) develops and maintains social consensus through engagement with workers, trade unions, communities, non-governmental organisations, representatives of the interests of business and industry and such other persons as the Scottish Ministers consider appropriate,

(d) creates decent, fair and high-value work in a way which does not negatively affect the current workforce and overall economy,

(e) contributes to resource efficient and sustainable economic approaches which help to address inequality and poverty.

Scottish Government Key Messages

The Scottish Government is committed to ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change in a way that is fair and leaves no one behind.

In Scotland, we have seen how unplanned structural changes in the past have left inter-generational scarring and deprivation, most notably in our former coal mining communities. Our transition to net zero must be managed differently. If we plan ahead and take action, ending our contribution to climate change presents a unique opportunity to improve the collective wellbeing of our nation.

A just transition is both the outcome – a fairer, greener future for all – and the process that must be undertaken in partnership with those impacted by the transition to net zero.

Just transition is how we get to a net zero and climate resilient economy, in a way that delivers fairness and tackles inequality and injustice. A just transition is underpinned by a fair distribution of the costs and benefits.

A just transition is a national mission. It is not something the Scottish Government can do alone, nor do we hold all the answers. It will need input, collaboration, and action from people throughout Scotland.

Scotland is world renowned for having underpinned our net zero targets with a legislative commitment to a just transition and then having reinforced that commitment by developing the world’s first National Just Transition Planning Framework.

Published 21 July 2023

Discussion paper: A Just Transition in Transport


Discussion paper: A Just Transition in Built Environment and Construction


Discussion paper: A Just Transition in Land Use and Agriculture