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Green recovery can heal “the scars left on our society” by Covid-19 pandemic, according to Just Transition Commission

Renewed action to accelerate Scotland’s transition to a net-zero economy can help rebuild in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and heal the scarring left on society caused by the virus, according to the Just Transition Commission (JTC).

In a report to Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, the Commission urges the Scottish Government to “not lose sight of the pressing need to tackle climate change” while calling on ministers to support four “hot spot” areas as part of a green recovery: young people, transport, oil and gas and the rural economy.

The areas were chosen because action to support recovery in each area was determined to be crucial in driving forward Scotland’s transition to net-zero while simultaneously addressing the harmful impacts resulting from the Covid-19 crisis.

The recommendations made by Commissioners include boosting investment for warmer homes and ensuring recently announced job support for young people includes work opportunities that further the transition to net-zero.

The report also recommends support to help displaced oil and gas workers and new measures to renew Scotland’s countryside and, in light of job losses announced at one of Scotland’s leading bus manufacturers, the JTC calls for a package of measures to support the supply chain and rebuild confidence in our public transport system when it is safe to do so.

Commissioners recommend leveraging Scottish Government action in the recovery to further the transition to net-zero, by attaching conditions any funding for the private sector.

Commenting on the report Professor Jim Skea, Chair of the Just Transition Commission, said:

“We know that the impact of COVID-19 has not been felt equally across society, and that already marginalised groups have been hit hardest. As we move into the recovery phase, now is the time for government to address the inequalities that have been exacerbated by the crisis while resetting our pathway to net-zero emissions.

The stated focus from government on a green recovery is absolutely the right one, and our recommendations show how Scotland can take actions that will reduce emissions, rebuild our economy while ensuring the benefits of this are felt widely across the country. These practical recommendations should be used to shape urgent action for the coming months.”

When making their recommendations, Commissioners assessed individual measures against three criteria:

1) Do they set Scotland on a pathway to net-zero?
2) Do they ensure the benefits of climate change action are shared widely, while the costs do not unfairly burden those least able to pay, or whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly at risk?
3) Will they contribute to a just and fair economic recovery for Scotland, once the immediate emergency, created by COVID-19, has subsided?

The report can be downloaded in full here.

The JTC produced an interim report for ministers in February this year. Its final report will be made in March 2021.