Popular Policies for a Just Transition

Tackling climate change is a global imperative, and Scottish Labour today has added its proposals to the clear set of targets that are being demanded of the Scottish Government.

Ambitious targets for decarbonisation of our economy are essential in the context of global climate change agreements to limit temperature increases to 1.5oC.[1] These targets must not be made at the expense of the workforce and communities which currently extract or depend on the use of fossil fuels. These are the principles of a ‘Just Transition’.

The Just Transition Partnership was formed by Friends of the Earth Scotland and the STUC in 2016. Its members include Unite Scotland, UNISON Scotland, UCU Scotland, CWU Scotland, PCS Scotland and WWF Scotland.

Substantial changes are needed to decarbonise our economy and support good quality employment. This will require large-scale investment in transformation of the production and consumption of energy, as well as reductions in overall energy use.

Done in the right ways, the transition to a low carbon economy can create good new jobs, yield significant economic and social benefits, as well as avert the potentially catastrophic environmental consequences of climate change.

That is the purpose of Just Transition, endorsed through inclusion in the Preamble of the Paris Agreement which takes into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities”.[2]

A Just Transition means moving to a modern low-carbon economy in a way which protects workers’ livelihoods, creates a new industrial base and delivers a fairer Scotland. This concept is central to a successful response to climate change, the implementation of existing Scottish greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, and those proposed under the new Climate Change Bill. Bold targets need strong delivery plans, public enthusiasm and engagement in achieving them.

Any just transition needs to ensure popular support by taking the needs of workers and communities into account and bringing wider socio-economic benefits for citizens of Scotland.

The Scottish Government has accepted the case made by the Just Transition Partnership[3] and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to set up a Just Transition Commission. Labour’s announcement today builds the pressure on the Scottish Government to make it robust.

A statutory Just Transition Commission, involving workers with real frontline experience in the development of a proper industrial strategy, offers the opportunity reduce emissions while creating new, good quality jobs and benefitting communities across Scotland.

[1] UNFCCC Paris Agreement 2015 Article 2 https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf

[2] Paris Agreement, Preamble

[3] https://foe.scot/resource/proposals-for-just-transition-commission/

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