Chapter 5.2.6 Just Transition in Energy

Deliver a just energy transition

Ensure a Just Transition at pace, in line with the 1.5ºC Paris target, with no workers or communities left behind.

UK Govt
Scottish Govt
Local Authorities
Emissions reduction
Behaviour change

With the energy sector accounting for around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions globally, a fast and just global energy transition to clean and renewable sources of energy is vital to prevent ever more dangerous climate impacts and, as a relatively rich country and historically high emitter, Scotland has an obligation to move fastest.

Switching from polluting fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy sources, promoting more efficient energy and resource use, and reducing energy consumption, are all vital elements of this transition. However, without a focus on justice, the transition risks undermining human rights and entrenching existing and historic injustices and inequalities.

The Scottish Government’s draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan134 sets out an investment plan of almost £5bn over this parliament. Other analyses suggest much larger figures, for example, Common Weal’s estimate of £170bn for the energy transition.135 Much larger flows of investment than the suggested £5bn, from both public and private sectors, will be needed over the next decade. The Scottish Government should include fiscal projections on the one hand and plans to both incentivise and require private investment in the enterprise-level investments needed to transform every sector to achieve emissions reductions targets.

A range of key Just Transition policies includes:

Just Transition Commission

  • the current Scottish Just Transition Commission should be established on a long-term, statutory footing with a representative membership, drawing on the key stakeholders in a Just Transition i.e. affected workers and communities, trade unions and environmentalists, who can also consider gender, racial and disability justice as part of a Just Transition. It should continue to work for the duration of legally-binding emissions reductions targets, until the transition is complete.
  • follow the Just Transition Commission’s recommendations on immediate actions including a fossil fuel decommissioning programme and public investment in renewable manufacturing facilities
  • implement the Just Transition Commission 2 reference to the importance of social infrastructure in investment in public services and their workforces 136

Oil and gas production

  • no new oil and gas licences and a managed wind down of production as soon as possible in line with a Just Transition, with timescales agreed with trade unions and communities

Maximising the benefits of renewable energy investments

  • the Scottish Government should include conditionality in licensing rounds (administered by the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland), to boost investment into domestic supply chains by making licences conditional on creation of local supply chain jobs
  • ScotWind – work on ensuring lessons are learned from the ScotWind licensing round and there is more public control and accountability, as well as public investment
  • share the benefits of our energy system fairly, through public and community ownership

Job creation and domestic manufacturing

  • invest in domestic manufacturing and assembly for renewables and jobs in the circular economy including
    • improve baseline port infrastructure to be able to support growth of jobs in offshore wind construction and manufacturing
    • clarify that to achieve its existing core mission of supporting “the Just Transition to net zero emissions by 2045”, the Scottish National Investment Bank can use an active ownership approach towards companies in which it has invested, to encourage greater domestic procurement and more local supply chains
    • direct the Scottish National Investment Bank to build on its investment into the expansion of Aberdeen Harbour by investing into and taking equity stakes in more Scottish ports. These should prioritise brownfield sites and incorporate community demands for siting
    • expand the scale of the Scottish National Investment Bank, enabling it to make more and larger investments into transition infrastructure
    • reconvene the Scottish Steel Sector Roundtable and task them with urgently creating a sustainable steel strategy for Scotland. The strategy should be guided by principles of global and domestic Just Transition, prioritise retaining the materials and skills required for the energy transition in Scotland, and creating decent green jobs, and aim to secure the development of an Electric Arc Furnace in Scotland
  • to boost domestic manufacturing and support existing oil and gas supply chains to retool, the Scottish Government should:
    • use the Scottish National Investment Bank to build on UK investment schemes supporting offshore wind manufacturing and retooling, with additional Scottish support schemes
    • create public stakes in manufacturing (i.e. rather than providing grants to businesses, invest and take equity stakes in manufacturing sites). Maintaining active equity stakes can ensure that job quality remains high and procurement is supporting further local content from supplier industries
  • the Scottish Government should support the creation of clear accessible pathways out of high carbon jobs, and a training regime for safety not profit, including
    • a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan: rapid growth of the workforce should be anticipated with plans for new recruitment into the relevant sectors among young people entering the labour market and new skills for unemployed workers. Training and skills, inclusive labour market programmes and career development support should be delivered as part of this, including increasing access to the labour market for women, disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities
    • conduct and regularly update analysis, through Skills Development Scotland (SDS), forecasting long-term trends in skills demand in the context of the climate transition
    • review and expand funding available to FE colleges to develop courses covering emerging skills gaps and shortages for the climate transition in line with this long‑term assessment
    • launch a targeted retraining funding initiative for oil and gas workers, available to all workers regardless of their employment status, with fast-track support available to those under threat of redundancy. Employers who want to participate should be required to demonstrate that they are supporting jobs with pay and conditions in line with national collective agreements (or Fair Work where those agreements don’t exist). Courses and qualifications should include Recognition of Prior Learning processes
    • through the Green Jobs Workforce Academy or SDS, provide tailored advice to oil and gas workers that takes into account their experience without ‘going back to the start’
    • Green public works programmes: supplement the UK Kickstart and Scottish Youth Guarantee schemes with Green Public Works Programmes which apply Fair Work principles from the start. These should be nationally funded but local-authority led and involve building new, green infrastructure and directly supporting jobs for long-term unemployed and young people, paid at union-negotiated rates. Trial and institute a paid time-off-to-train support scheme specifically for fossil fuel workers, or more broadly for workers in sectors shrinking due to major technological change
    • use its role on the Energy Skills Alliance to steer the offshore passporting scheme to a model which:
      • eliminates duplication of qualifications, ensuring that certification (including ‘microcertification’) with one body is fully recognised by the other(s) and no duplication of training or assessment is needed including recognition of prior certificated learning
      • provides proportionate, efficient and robust individual assessment and recognition of competence for experienced workers so that they do not have to attend training in areas where they are already proficient but lack certification (recognition of prior experiential learning)
      • guarantees that training is up-to-date, while ensuring that no worker has to redo a course that is still in date
      • is digital, so that the training and certification record of workers can easily be checked
      • is accepted as the minimum standard required by industry operators
      • offer offshore workers in Scotland training support to meet the requirements of the Offshore Passport if needed for transitioning from oil and gas to other offshore industries (or prior to its setup, to meet existing training requirements for oil and gas workers seeking to work in renewables). This would form part of its commitment to a Skills Guarantee to workers in carbon-intensive industries. Funding should be open to self-employed and off-payroll workers and cover wages lost as well as training costs. This should be part-funded by the new transition skills levy
      • establish a programme under the Green Jobs Workforce Academy to support individual workers to access training pathways that suit them, alongside a programme to support workers from under-represented groups or backgrounds to access opportunities within the offshore energy sector
      • support Scottish Further Education colleges in receiving industry body accreditation for delivering Offshore Training Passport aligned courses and carrying out recognition of prior experiential learning assessments
  • make a strong recommendation to employers to grant facility time to workplace green reps, in the way that health and safety reps have statutory facility time. This would assist not just with green workplace action on emissions reduction, but also on crucial adaptation work, as identified in the new resources for trade unionists produced in a joint project with the STUC, Adaptation Scotland and UNISON
  • ensure safety, job security and fair pay across the energy industry

Wind turbine decommissioning and repowering

  • planning for wind turbine decommissioning and repowering should start now, and be included in the Energy Strategy. As with all such plans, engagement with key stakeholders including workers and Trade Union representatives, affected communities and environmental stakeholders, is key
  • the practicalities of using an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for wind turbines should also be considered as a way of ensuring developers take on the responsibility and financial costs of decommissioning. EPRs encourage more sustainable use of materials as moving the cost to producers incentives them to reduce and recycle materials
  • the UK Government’s main mechanism for supporting low-carbon electricity generation, known as the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, currently only considers the cost of projects. This could be amended so that CfD (or its successor) also includes an assessment of whole life carbon impacts as well. While this is a reserved matter, the Scottish Government is well placed to influence the design of CfD, given the importance of Scottish projects to the overall UK renewables sector

Communities have a strong role in achieving the Just Transition with their ability to a) reach out to the most vulnerable in society and b) to understand local challenges and develop the most appropriate solutions for their local communities. This is particularly true for ethnic minority communities in Scotland, especially in faith settings.

This policy would create jobs and contribute to progress on climate justice, gender justice, racial justice, tackling inequalities and improved health, and create social infrastructure to benefit all.

For further information:


Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition, Plan, Scottish Government, January 2023, transition-plan/documents/


Building a Green New Deal for Scotland, Common Weal, 2019,


“Scotland’s social infrastructure primarily includes the care, health and education services that underpin economic performance and sustain the entire workforce. These will be critical for delivery of the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Outcomes across the board, and most obviously on adaptation and resilience. Achieving the transformation in a just manner requires that we significantly expand the number of jobs, skills and pay in the low-emitting social infrastructure sector.” govscot/publications/independent-report/2022/07/making-future-initial-report-2nd-transition-commission/documents/making-futureinitial- report-2nd-transition-commission/making-future-initial-report-2nd-transition-commission/govscot%3Adocument/makingfuture- initial-report-2nd-transition-commission.pdf and climate-risks-workplace-protecting-workers-changing-climate

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.