Scottish Parliament backs plans to give Just Transition Commission a statutory footing

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 16 January 2019 in News

The Just Transition Commission will provide recommendations to government on how to achieve zero emissions while protecting jobs

Image credit: PA

The Scottish Parliament has agreed the new commission established to help move Scotland towards a zero-carbon economy should be independent from government and given a statutory footing, after MSPs backed an amendment from Scottish Labour.

The new Just Transition Commission will provide recommendations to government on how to achieve zero emissions while protecting jobs, with MSPs then agreeing to back an amendment from Labour MSP Claudia expressing support for "the just transition process through giving further consideration to the establishment of a statutory, long-term just transition commission, which should be well-funded, independent of government and accountable to the Parliament, building on the work of the present non-statutory commission.”

But SNP, Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MSPs voted down an amendment from Green MSP Mark Ruskell calling for faster roll-out of renewable energy and accelerated decommissioning of oil and gas projects.

Ministers announced plans to establish the commission in September 2018 to advise on securing a fair transition away from fossil fuels so industry can "maximise the opportunities of a low carbon future".

Claudia Beamish MSP said: “Workers in Scotland will be relieved by the Scottish Government’s decision to support Scottish Labour’s amendment calling for it to give consideration to a statutory Just Transition Commission.

“The just transition principles are fundamental to the international and historic labour movement, and to Scotland’s future. The SNP Government must follow Scottish Labour’s lead in pairing climate change ambition with social and economic equity.

“The short-termism of the Scottish Government’s initial design for a 2 year long Just Transition Commission showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the concerns of communities and those working in industries that need to adapt now and into the future.

“A Just Transition Commission would make recommendations on how to deliver policies for emissions reductions in a way that protects job quality, and shares the costs and rewards fairly across society.

“Labour’s vision for the Commission is a statutory, well-funded body, independent of government and accountable to Parliament. It must be guided by voices of experts and those with key industry experience, answering real questions for workers and communities, and last for as long as our shift to a net-zero emissions economy takes.”

But, responding to the vote, the Scottish Greens accused other parties of “ignoring the evidence on climate change”.

Ruskell said: “The science is really clear that we can’t achieve the Paris climate commitments unless we leave most of our remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Sadly, the SNP and other parties ignore that evidence when they continue to back multi-billion pound tax breaks for the oil and gas sector.

“That does a huge disservice to the communities whose livelihoods depend on these dying industries. They deserve to hear the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.  We need both an urgent and credible response to global climate emergency, which learns from the past and leaves no one behind. It’s a real shame that Scotland’s other parties either can’t see this yet, or are too afraid to speak it.”

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