I spoke at the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland fringe meeting at the SNP conference yesterday evening. This is part of a series of fringe meetings at the party conferences to promote the SCCS manifesto for next year's Scottish elections. The meeting was chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney MSP.
My contribution was on the need for a 'Just Transition' to a low carbon economy.
There is a broad agreement across the political parties on the benefits a low carbon economy could bring to Scotland. However, without a just transition there could be some economic dislocation as workers in high carbon industries are impacted, leading to a potential loss in public support for the measures we have to take to cut emissions.
The Scottish Government recognised this in the 2009 Joint Communique with the STUC that covers the need for a just transition strategy that addresses the economic, employment and social impact of moving to a low carbon economy. The SCCS manifesto proposal to deliver on this commitment, supported by the STUC, is the establishment of a Scottish Forum for a Just Transition. This would be a partnership body that would advise on the necessary training for new skills, promote Green Workplaces and maximise the employment opportunities.
I gave a couple of practical examples of current Scottish Government initiatives that contribute towards a just transition including the Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the forthcoming Scottish Water Bill.
Just transition is the key to winning support for tackling climate change. We need to highlight the opportunities to build the economy and create quality employment. But this won't happen by accident. We need to put practical measures in place now.