What does the just transition mean for Scotland?

Scotland stands at the forefront of renewable energy, having achieved the incredible milestone of generating more than 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand for first time in 2022 from renewable energy infrastructure in Scotland.

This monumental achievement reflects Scotland’s pivotal role in green innovation and technology but it doesn’t stop there.

From hydrogen buses being rolled out across the country in many cities like Aberdeen, Falkirk and Glasgow to renewable energy development – wave energy, offshore and onshore wind to Scotland’s innovative Hydrogen Programme.

Once again, energy and the just transition presents Scotland with a unique global opportunity, similar to the innovation of the oil and gas transition in the 1970s.

So what exactly does a just transition mean for Scotland, and why is an independent Scotland crucial today, and for future generations to come, when considering the opportunities presented by renewable energy and the just transition?

What does a just transition mean for Scotland?

The just transition is part of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21).

A just transition means moving Scotland’s communities forward so that people can access affordable, clean electricity, heating and transportation.

The just transition is an opportunity for Scotland to lead in developing technology, global collaboration and creating jobs – offering opportunities to people both at home and to work overseas.

The climate crisis is escalating globally, with increasingly frequent and severe climate events wreaking havoc on communities.

There has been an increase of flooding from winter rainfall in Scotland and the global-average temperature for the past twelve months is the highest on record, at 0.68°C above the 1991-2020 average and 1.56°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.

While one purpose of the just transition is to mitigate the impact of carbon emissions from oil and gas energy on the climate, the other purpose is to do so while working with stakeholders to protect workers in Scotland’s already heavily established oil and gas industry.

Affordable, cleaner energy and more jobs

In a world heavily relying on fossil fuel, the just transition aims to take a step towards a safer and brighter future for today, and generations to come – shifting to affordable, clean energy is a global challenge and not something that is meant to happen suddenly for Scotland.

Over time, energy has undergone many transitions, and to a considerable extent the energy system has largely always been transitioning from one way to another.

The first discovery of commercial oil wasn’t initially used for planes and cars; instead, it was used for lighting as a substitute for whale oil, saving the vast hunting of whales in the 19th century and transitioning towards using cleaner energy sources than the impacts of burning whale oil.

Scotland is significantly advancing in this forth-coming revolution and our natural resources, business innovations, investments and world renounced education systems is a massive advantage for Scotland.

Scotland has the capacity and resources to work efficiently and globally in collaboration with businesses and countries to transition justly, and your SNP Scottish government is already making these strides.

Your SNP Government’s green-energy commitment for Scotland

Scottish Government funding has helped secure a £350million investment from Sumitomo Electric, a Japanese company that will facilitate a new cable factory for the offshore wind sector in Scotland.

This initiative will create around 330 jobs in Scotland over the next 10 years, 265 of which will be in the Highlands and Islands, including 156 well-paid manufacturing jobs on site.

The world’s first dedicated innovation centre for floating offshore wind has been opened in Aberdeen, Scotland. Ian Wood, chairman of ETZ Ltd and renowned energy trail-blazer, said:

This market-leading facility will have an internationally recognised capability to reduce the costs of energy from these developments supporting the incubation of new products, services, and businesses across the energy sector.

Moreover, Scotland has the energy and talent to thrive in an ever-changing energy industry with the renewable energy sector growing in Scotland by 50% in 2021, supporting 42,000 jobs.

Scotland already has tidal energy plants in Inner Sound in the Pentland Firth, and Blue Mull Sound in Shetland and wind energy off the Angus coast in the North Sea’s Firth of Forth which is now Scotland’s largest wind farm as well as the world’s deepest fixed-bottom offshore wind farm.

While also leading in innovative hydrogen energy solutions, with the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus fleet operating since 2015 in Aberdeen and the world’s first hydrogen-powered heating network is the first of its kind to employ a direct supply of clean power to produce hydrogen for domestic heating, putting Fife at the forefront of the clean energy revolution. 

There is a global demand for new technology and innovation that needs to be met, predicted to become much bigger over the next decade.

For Scotland, independence, and the just transition means an opportunity to protect, build and create jobs while having the opportunity of exporting our abundance of renewable electricity to our neighbours, supporting jobs here in Scotland and the decarbonisation ambitions of our partners around the world.

The oil and gas boom of the 1970s

Scotland has made monumental contributions to the global oil and gas sector, and the sector has helped to improve living standards across Scotland. Today oil and gas is still an important and prevailing industry for Scotland.

Over decades, the UK economy has reaped the benefits of Scotland’s abundant energy resources. The oil boom in Aberdeen during the 1970s not only provided valuable jobs and opportunities for people but also drove advancements in global technology for offshore drilling.

The impact of energy on our daily lives has become increasingly obvious – energy underpins nearly all human activities, directly influencing the cost of living by affecting food prices, heating, electricity, and transportation costs.

The harm and mismanagement that Westminster rule has over Scotland’s energy can been seen more than ever before –  from the UK government’s failure to give proper support during surging energy costs, delivering a budget that made Scotland’s energy sector a “loser” due to high taxation that deters business, and with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer agreeing that he will increase this tax even further from 75% to 78% in order to fund the building of nuclear power stations in England and with Labour’s plans to increase defence spending by 2.5% of GDP.

Scotland has a significant opportunity to contribute to a multi-purposed just transition by fostering a collaborative green economy.

But not under the leadership of a UK government which continues to jeopardise Scotland’s energy potential and abundant potential.

Your SNP Scottish government is striving to support Scotland’s energy transition, recognising the strengths of our oil and gas workers and businesses, and supporting Scotland’s fast growing green-energy development. 

Moving from carbon-intensive to carbon-neutral ways of production and consumption, means many new jobs can be created in an emerging sector and with independence Scotland can reap the benefits of the 21st century energy transition for the good of people, bettering lives.

A just transition makes it possible to ensure immediate climate action and at the same time reduce inequalities, improves the cost of energy, provides decent work, and access to clean energy.