Published on January 14, 2019

Scotland’s Just Transition Commission

In September this year, the Scottish government announced the launch of a Just Transition Commission, tasked with advising the government on how to achieve a carbon-neutral economy.

The Commission will ‘look at how to maximise opportunities for decarbonisation, in terms of fair work and tackling inequalities, while delivering a sustainable and inclusive labour market,’ according to the government.

The Scottish government said the work of the Commission would be guided by principles of Just Transition ‘developed and promoted by the trade union movement’, including:

– Plan for, and invest in, a transition to environmentally and socially sustainable jobs, sectors and economies

– Leave no one behind

– Actively consider employment issues when developing climate policies

– Design and deliver low carbon infrastructure with the aim of creating decent, high value work

Scottish academic Jim Skea, Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London, will chair the Commission.

“The idea of a just transition is embedded in the Paris agreement,” he said. “The challenge now is to turn the concept into practical action that shares widely and fairly the benefits of the low carbon transition. Scotland is taking a lead internationally, and I am flattered to be invited to chair the Commission. The challenge in two years is to come up with advice that is actionable and commands the support of stakeholders.”

Other members of the commission include researchers, industry and trade union, NGO and youth representatives.

Last year, Scotland published a draft climate change bill, which aimed for a 90 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 from 1990 levels. The government further promised to review setting a net zero emission target in the future.

Speaking at the COP which took place in December 2018 in Katowice Poland, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, announced the creation of the Just Transition Commission and said “there was nothing to fear and everything to gain” from the transition in terms of new jobs, higher skills, and better wages. “It can be unsettling, but it has to be done.”

Sturgeon added that Scotland, a major producer of oil and gas, has created 50,000 jobs in wind and tidal energy production already.

In 2017, Scotland generated 68 percent of its electricity consumption through renewable sources. Renewables are therefore the single largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland—higher than both nuclear generation (33%) and fossil fuel generation (28%).

The country closed its last coal plant in 2016, on account of old age, rising transmission costs and higher carbon taxes.

Photo by Flick user isleofeigg.