Proactively tackle climate, poverty and inequalities together
Action to reduce Scotland’s emissions should be pursued in ways that actively reduce poverty and narrow existing inequalities, including gender, disability and racial injustice, with the impact of all relevant strategies and plans transparently assessed.
Currently, there is inadequate assessment of the impact of climate policies on inequalities. However, we welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to carry out an Equalities Impact Assessment on the new Climate Change Plan and Energy Strategy when they are published in November 2023.25 This improved level of assessment should lead to a new approach to climate action in Scotland, one in which, wherever possible, activities to reduce emissions should also reduce poverty and inequalities – recognising these are incompatible with a climate just future.
However, the Scottish Government could go further and carry out an Equalities and Human Rights Impact Assessment (EQHRIA),26 that is, adding a human rights lens. This is more person centred, and captures intersectionality and lived experience.
Where climate action can exacerbate existing inequalities – for example through increased costs incurred to low-income households for decarbonising heat in buildings – these policies must be part of a package of fiscal measures that support low-income households to maintain or increase their overall household income. Regressive impacts must be identified and proactively mitigated against.
This policy involves a broadening of the definition of ‘Just Transition’ to ensure that the shift to a sustainable economy and society is achieved in ways that support the wider goals of ending poverty and narrowing inequalities.
For further information:
- Equality Impact Assessments – Briefing from the UK Women’s Budget Group on equality impact assessments and the Public Sector Equality Duty, UK Women’s Budget Group, 2019, https://wbg.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/EIA-2019.pdf
- Assessing impact and the Public Sector Equality Duty: a guide for public authorities (Scotland), EHRC, 2016, https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/assessing-impact-and-public-sector-equality-duty-guide-public-authorities
CASE/631205: Climate Change Plan (CCP) & Just Transition Planning (JTP) Impact Assessments, Public Contracts Scotland, 2023, https://www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=APR476295
Equality and human rights impact assessments guidance, Scottish Human Rights Commission, undated, http://eqhria.scottishhumanrights.com/