Scottish Government Climate Change Plan update

thumbnail of UNISON CCPu Responses Jan 21

We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s Call for Views[1]. We are also submitting this to the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee, due to our emphasis on the need for urgent action for a green recovery. This is a limited response, focusing mainly on the Committees’ green recovery question, to be read in conjunction with the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland submissions to all four committees reviewing the Climate Change Plan Update[2] (CCPu) – the ECCLR and EEFW Committees and the Local Government and Communities and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committees. UNISON also strongly supports the response from the Just Transition Partnership.

The four Committees asked common questions and we focus here on the last of these:
To what extent do you think the CCPu delivers a green recovery?

There would be much to commend in this update if some of the fine words were matched with the necessary actions, particularly on a just transition, key to a just and green recovery. There are also numerous funding issues at present, particularly for local government[3]. Our members across Scotland are clear that public services must not face further cuts[4]. Too many had been cut to the bone before the pandemic. Services must be protected and enhanced to deliver a green recovery and workers’ pay must rise to provide decent living standards and support spending in local economies.

Unfortunately, the CCPu fails to map out and commit to the actions needed to deliver for workers. We agree with the Just Transition Partnership comment[5] on publication of the CCPu last month: “Despite the frequent references to and the welcome aspiration for a just transition in the document, the updated Climate Change Plan does not set out how Ministers intend to support the workforce, employers and communities as part of the shift to a low carbon economy.”

It is disgraceful, and says a lot about the Scottish Government’s approach, particularly following on so soon after the scandalous lack of support for the BiFab workforce[6], that the Scottish Government has ignored a hugely important Just Transition Commission recommendation from its Interim Report[7] last year, thereby delaying the legislative requirement for more detailed Just Transition planning at a time when Ministers themselves have declared a climate emergency. They have argued that the Just Transition provisions in the 2019 Scottish climate Act are about the next Climate Change Plan and that this update is under the earlier legislation. But in the section entitled ‘Opportunities and the need for immediate action’, under 5.13, the Just Transition Commission recommended that Ministers “should act in the spirit of the legislation and show that it is serious about ensuring just transition principles are central to its approach to tackling climate change”.