Just Transition Commission report comes at a ‘difficult time’
The publication of our first report yesterday as the new Just Transition Commission could not have come at a more difficult time for Scotland and its journey to zero just transition.
Across Scotland, workers and communities face the greatest threat to living standards in a generation.
Food and fuel prices are skyrocketing, and the cost of home heating is expected to rise further before winter arrives. All the evidence I see both in my role as a top trade union leader in Scotland and as Just Transition Commissioner to people facing hard choices about heating their homes, feeding their families or getting to work.
The Scottish Government’s recent announcements of its recently completed Resource Spending Review with warnings of austerity-style cuts to public spending and public sector jobs only add worry and stress to Scottish workers and to their families.
We know that if done well, a Just Zero Transition can make an enormous contribution to the well-being of workers and their communities. It can play a huge role in reducing inequality and creating the welfare economy that Scotland wants.
However, if Scotland is to maintain its position as a world leader in progress towards a Just Net Zero transition, worries and concerns about the costs of this progress cannot be added to the tensions that already threaten the fabric of the lives of many people.
The Scottish Government must prioritize measures that help those most at risk of further marginalization from the move to net zero.
It must accelerate those changes that will help those struggling with the cost of living emergency, prioritizing investment in home renovations and other energy efficiency measures to reduce household fuel bills.
We also need a fully functional, accessible and much more affordable public transport system. It will mean tough choices for the government, but no one ever said it would be an easy journey.
As the cost of living emergency intensifies, we are in a battle for the hearts and minds of those most deeply affected by both the current economic turmoil and the changes we need to make.
Unless we give communities and workers the assurance that they will not end up like the mining villages of Fife and Ayrshire or the steel communities of Lanarkshire, our progress towards Net Zero will diminish to the detriment of everyone .
That is why I am proud of the report that we have complied with as a Commission, proud of our recommendations for an energy transmission map and an investment plan, for increased access to energy efficiency programs and a review of the energy market in the United Kingdom, for the adoption of all the recommendations of the Fair Work Conventions on the construction industry, on a national service of care, and for an expansion and not a reduction of proud that the spirit of collegiality and consensus has continued since the first Commission, the government now has a chance to act on our recommendations on its new energy strategy and ensure that a just transition helps workers, communities and the whole of Scotland cope with the urgent cost of living.
Richard Hardy is the Senior Officer in Scotland and Ireland for the Trade Union Prospect, Member of the General Council of the STUC and current and past member of the Just Transition Commission.