e brief: Draft Energy Strategy & Just Transition Plan – Scottish Gov Consultation

thumbnail of Energy Strategy Just Transition Plan consultation e-briefing Feb 2023The Scottish Government is currently consulting on its draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan. This short briefing looks at key aspects of the draft and some of the issues and context that UNISON Scotland will be raising in our response.

UNISON will be commenting in most detail on some specific areas of interest, obviously with Just Transition as a core principle. We will be making our case on issues including the importance of public ownership and control of energy; municipal and community energy; energy efficiency and retrofitting; hydrogen; decarbonising public services; public transport, public investment and more.

Getting energy and Just Transition planning policy and delivery right is not only much needed and long awaited, but utterly essential to ensuring a just and green recovery, leaving no one behind. UNISON Scotland has long argued for strong climate action and a transition to an economy that won’t destroy the planet. The consultation comes at a time when it is clear the energy system needs to change. It is immoral that energy companies once again enjoy “obscene” record profits, yet we have cost of living and energy costs crises leaving millions struggling financially, hard on the heels of the pandemic.

We work with the Just Transition Partnership, whose conference on 21 Feb on Reclaiming our Energy focused on the consultation, arguing that “public ownership of energy production and infrastructure is an essential part of any plans to hit climate change targets. The privatised energy system is giving us fuel poverty, soaring energy prices and profits; and failing to deliver a Just Transition.” We want the energy strategy to strongly support publicly-owned solutions. The STUC has also been condemning major failings to deliver strong offshore wind supply chains, with concerns about billions lost to the public purse, highlighted in this Common Weal analysis.

There has been outrage from some that the draft strategy even asks questions about any new oil and gas, whereas environmentalists wanted to see this ruled out. Indeed, for climate action, a managed and just wind down of North Sea oil and gas production needs to happen as quickly as possible in line with keeping temperatures to 1.5ºC. UN Secretary General Antonion Guterres said this month to the oil companies: “Your core product is our core problem. We need a renewables revolution, not a self-destructive fossil fuel resurgence.”

As part of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition (SCCS), we believe Scotland and the UK must take an equitable approach to this process. SCCS has been calling on the Scottish Government to immediately start planning for a credible managed wind down as part of a Just Transition, with trade unions and communities fully involved in agreeing timescales. It is not helpful that key evidence vital for the consultation on a presumption against new oil and gas has not been published, as Friends of the Earth Scotland and others told The Ferret.

This is an important consultation for all our futures and will be of interest to all UNISON branches, including of course our gas and electricity members.

Please send any comments on the draft plan, including relevant case studies, to Fiona Montgomery f.montgomery@unison.co.uk by Monday 20 March. The final deadline for the consultation is 4 April 2023.