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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Just Transition Commission Visiting Grantown on Spey

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Today, Wednesday Scotland’s Just Transition Commission will meet local people in Grantown-on-Spey to hear directly about how farmers and others involved in land management are working to bring down carbon emissions.

The independent expert advisory group advises the Scottish Government on how the country can achieve a carbon neutral economy fairly.

The Commission will visit Grantown-on-Spey to learn about of how major changes needed to reach Net Zero are being communicated to farmers, land managers, and the local community so they can plan for the future.

The Commission will hear directly from those whose lives and livelihoods are most likely to be impacted, including a visit to a local tenant farm, discussions with young farmers working in the area, and an estate where members will hear about wider land management issues including deer management, peatland restoration, woodland management, diversification and local employment.

The Commission will publish a short report with findings from its visit to Grantown-on-Spey in the coming weeks.

The Commission aims to make sure the benefits and burdens of the major changes involved in meeting Scotland’s climate targets are shared as fairly as possible. 

It is chaired by Prof. Jim Skea CBE, a climate scientist and a member of the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body whose reports have played a key role in shaping global understanding of the climate emergency over the past 30 years. 

The Just Transition Commission’s remit is to: 

  • Scrutinise the development of just transition plans led by the Scottish Government 
  • Advise on the best approach to monitoring and evaluation of the just transition 
  • Engage with people most likely to be impacted by the transition, hearing from a wide range of representative voices. 

The Commission will publish a report each year scrutinising Scotland’s progress as well as short reports with findings on specific sectors and issues. Its members include representatives of environmental groups, trade unions, business, industry and community organisations.

In April, the Commission published detailed advice on the Scottish Government’s plan to deliver a green energy system, including the need for detailed risk assessment and contingency planning.

It also stressed the huge opportunity for good jobs to be created in order to construct the new infrastructure that will be required, and the need to ensure these jobs meet fair work standards.

The Commission has so far visited the Western Isles, Peterhead, Aberdeen, Blantyre, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Last month it visited Dundee to scrutinise key challenges in reducing emissions from transport in a fair way.  

Jim Skea, Chair of the Commission, said: 

“Farmers and land managers have a big role to play as Scotland decarbonises, and the Commission is in Grantown-on-Spey this week to hear directly from local people.

“A just transition means effective engagement between people and government so that policies and plans are put in place in a timely fashion and reflect local needs and concerns.

“Meaningful engagement and effective communication will be crucial in ensuring a truly just transition led by workers and communities.”

Steven Thomson, a Commissioner and Reader at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), said:

“It is important that decisions made in the next few years consider the long-term impacts on fragile rural and island economies and communities.

“Many land managers remain uncertain of what exactly is being asked of them – especially what future policy will look like.

“It is tough to invest in the future when there remains uncertainty.

“Once new biodiversity and climate change targets are published it is essential that expectations from the land use and agricultural sector are effectively communicated before the new support structures come into effect in 2026 – the sector will adapt, but need to be confident that the pathway they choose is the correct one, and one that will be rewarded.”

Deborah Long, a Commissioner and Chief Officer at Scottish Environment LINK, said:

“Scotland, like the rest of the world is facing the impacts of the nature and climate emergency.

“Land managers are at the forefront of this.

“While the Commission is in Grantown, I’m hoping we’ll explore with the local community how the climate extremes and loss of biodiversity is affecting their lives, and how they see their own futures changing as a result.

“I’m particularly interested in what young people, living the Cairngorms National Park, think their own future holds.

“And I want to hear about the ways people are coping, what they need to know and do to be able to cope better and indeed thrive.”

Mark Reed, a member of the Commission’s working group for Land Use and Agriculture and a professor at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), said:

“Land use is changing fast as more and more farms and estates are bought by investors and others seeking to rewild Scotland and reap their rewards in carbon.

“This may be an opportunity for estate owners and owner-occupiers, but there are concerns that local communities, tenants and crofters get left behind in the carbon gold rush.

“Carbon markets could attract billions of inward investment to help us reach net zero, but we need to amplify the voices of those with concerns, so they are both heard and addressed, if we want a just transition.”

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