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Just Transition Commission: Advice on a Green Recovery

31st July 2020

Photograph of Just Transition Commission: Advice on a Green Recovery

Report prepared by the Just Transition Commission, providing advice to the Scottish Government on ensuring a just green recovery.

The Commission was established to make recommendations to Scottish Ministers on how we can transition to a net-zero economy by 2045 in a way which:

maximises the economic and social opportunities that the move to a net-zero economy by 2045 offers.

builds on Scotland's existing strengths and assets

understands and mitigates risks that could arise in relation to regional cohesion, equalities, poverty (including fuel poverty), and a sustainable and inclusive labour market

We published our interim report in February, laying out our emerging thinking and initial recommendations for government. Since then the pandemic has swept across the world, disrupting our lives and extracting a devastating toll on health and our wider society while demonstrating the impact that sudden and unplanned transitions can have.

This report has come about as a result of a request from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, asking us for advice on a green recovery from the pandemic. We have been asked specifically to consider the green recovery through a just transition lens, building on the work of other groups such as the Committee on Climate Change. The Government set out the stages for its economic response to the pandemic in April: Response, Reset, Restart, and Recover. It is the final stage of this plan that we are focussed on in this report.

While the pandemic has had a profound impact on our economy and the way we live our lives, it has also shone a cruel light on many of the structural inequalities that exist in our society. The public sector has been forced to intervene in the economy and in people's lives in a way some would have previously thought impossible.

On the climate change front, we have seen the understandable delay to both the Scottish Government publication of the updated Climate Change Plan and to COP26. While these decisions were inevitable in light of the unprecedented circumstances, we must be careful not to lose sight of the urgent need to tackle the climate challenge. The most recent statistics show Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2018, a trend that desperately needs reversing and at pace. Now is the time for renewed commitment to reset our pathway to net-zero, while building a fairer and more resilient economy.

Many recent reports have called for a green recovery. In particular, we draw attention to the work of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER) and the Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG). We have also gained insight from a wide range of sectors and there is a clear consensus on the importance of an investment-led recovery and the need to ensure the economic recovery is consistent with Scotland's climate ambitions.

Recommendation 1: rapidly roll-out spending of the £500 million previously committed to prioritise buses, including measures to reallocate motorway and other road space to high occupancy vehicles such as buses.

Recommendation 2: establish a nationwide bus scrappage scheme to replace older diesel buses with low emission and zero-emission buses.

Recommendation 3: develop an enhanced and accelerated national plan for charging infrastructure for both public and private transport in the context of an overall strategy to support the electrification of road transport.

Recommendation 4: procure a fleet of new electric buses for use at COP26 to showcase Scotland's low and zero emission bus manufacture and stimulate greater international demand.


Just Transition Commission: Strong welcome for support for bus in Scotland.

Transform Scotland has strongly welcomed today's advice from the Just Transition Commission to Scottish Ministers to ‘Back buses and support the supply chain' as part of a just, green recovery.

BYD ADL Enviro200EV (pure electric). Image courtesy of ADL.

Jess Pepper, external affairs manager for Transform Scotland said:

"We are glad to see the Commission urge action on existing Government commitments, as progress will benefit so many, and could help secure jobs in bus and coach at risk.

"The urgent roll out of the £500 million commitment to improve bus services across Scotland will improve lives and secure jobs in the bus and coach industry. Giving bus the priority on the motorways around Glasgow could be a game changer for those who make the smart choice to commute by bus, boosting services and jobs.

"It is fantastic that the Commission has recommended that iconic electric buses, made in Scotland, should be welcoming the world to this critical global event in Glasgow."

Prioritising bus delivers public goods - reducing emissions, improving public health, tackling inequalities, creating green jobs in manufacturing and services, and strengthening the economy. The bus and coach industry is critical to Scotland, providing 13,500 jobs and worth £684 million to the Scottish Economy (DfT, 2018). Buses keep communities connected, even in crisis. As has been recommended, now they need government to promote positive messages for recovery.

Significant shift

The recommendations set out by the Just Transition Commission today highlight the opportunity for a shift, from an old story of pollution, social and environmental injustice towards a vision of an active and sustainable transport system that works for everyone, across Scotland. This recovery from the coronavirus pandemic must be just and green.

While 30% of households don't have a car, decades of government spend and action have continued to prioritise private cars. Emissions from cars are the largest source of all our emissions from transport, exacerbating inequalities, producing pollution and congestion.

So it is extremely significant that the Just Transition Commission signal this needs to change:

"The opportunity to re-prioritise any existing transport spend, currently earmarked for increasing road capacity, and redirect it toward investments in low-carbon transport initiatives should be actively pursued."

Like the coronavirus pandemic, the impacts of the climate emergency will affect those who can least afford them most. We must act urgently to mitigate these impacts.

Leadership with modal shift from private cars to sustainable transport, like clean buses, is urgently needed.

We cannot afford to lose jobs in bus, manufacturing or services, not when our health, economy and a safe, fair future is at stake and bus could help us deliver it.

[url=]Read the full report HERE[/url]