Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have addressed long-awaited industry and policy calls by producing the first ever place-based roadmap for measuring the achievement of a just transition.
Using national and local data sets, the interdisciplinary Just Transition Lab has worked with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a set of proposed indicators and scenarios capable of effectively tracking the north-east of Scotland’s transition to a cleaner, greener future.
With nearly 200 countries agreeing at COP28 to start transitioning away from fossil fuels “in a just, orderly and equitable manner”, establishing the tangible steps needed to ensure a just transition is more important that ever.
While the just transition principles are enshrined in law and policy in Scotland, the practical steps of their implementation and evaluation have remained undefined until now. Just Transition Commission’s annual report published this week also emphasised that "meaningful monitoring and evaluation of the transition needs to begin as soon as possible".
Launched today, in a new 100-page report, Measuring Just Transition, researchers focus on four themes: Employment and skills, Equality and wellbeing, Democratic participation; and Community empowerment, revitalisation and Net Zero. The report pulls together and analyses data across these themes to develop a comprehensive picture of the region.
Each theme presents indicators, as proxies for evaluating progress, which can be used as decision support tools, a means of informing policy and supporting stakeholder dialogue and action.
“The concept of a just transition is well-established in academic, commercial and political arenas however there has been a notable lack of approaches and data on measuring progress towards achieving it with calls for clarity from the Scottish Parliament, the Just Transition Commission and many other industry stakeholders on how to evaluate progress in a place-based context,” said lead author of the report Dr Daria Shapovalova, director of the University’s Centre for Energy Law and coordinator of the Just Transitions Lab.
“In Aberdeen, where there is a long legacy of hosting the oil and gas industry, these concerns are as important as ever. This report sets out, for the first time, the indicators which can be used as we collectively progress a just transition in the north-east of Scotland.”
Key recommendations include:
- Strengthening transition dialogues and community assemblies; considering regional citizens assemblies as materially linked to policy
- Building community capacities to enhance social innovation and community wealth building. Investing in commensurate with industry Net Zero skills
- Investing in reaching and empowering marginalised and under-represented groups to improve agency in key transition issues (e.g. fuel poverty, greenspace, transport)
- Support the retraining/new skills development for energy transition jobs
- Targeted outreach to female and underrepresented school students on career opportunities in a post-oil economy
- Ensuring a low-carbon and expanded transportation network so that workers and small firms can easily move and take advantage of new economic opportunities
- Developing a unified cross-party and cross-nation energy strategy with a managed phase-out of fossil fuel production informed by climate science
- Developing robust climate adaptation policies and actions with a view to support already deprived areas
- Supporting the development of an integrated and sustainable travel network in the north-east.
Data and Measurement
- Creating a standardised classification of ‘green’ jobs since current industry and occupational classifications are not detailed enough
- Cooperation between industry and governments on developing data sets on the workforce; make data more available to the public
- Developing a place-based Just Transition data dashboard for tracking progress
- Accelerating policy and law-making on energy, climate and Just Transition – including the Offshore Energy Skills Passport
- Reforming law and policy on public engagement in energy infrastructure projects in a way that is more conducive to empowering communities through early engagement and representation
- Strengthening local content requirements in the low-carbon energy industry
The report was the basis for its authors giving evidence to the Scottish Parliamentary Committee on Economy and Fair Work’s inquiry on November 29. They are currently briefing a number of MPs, MSPs and industry groups.
“There are no shortcuts on a way to a Just Transition. Progress towards achieving it will require a clear articulation of vision and objectives, co-developed with all stakeholders around the table. It will require collaboration, trust, difficult conversations and compromise as we develop a collective vision for the region,” added Dr Shapovalova.
“Finally, it will require strong political will, substantive policy and legal reform, public and private investment, and building of social licence as we collectively build a Net Zero future in the north-east. Establishing this methodology is a significant step towards achieving that.”
The report authors are Dr Daria Shapovalova from the School of Law, Professor Tavis Potts from the School of Geosciences, Dr John Bone from the School of Social Science; and Professor Keith A. Bender from the Business School. The project is funded by Uplift.