To tackle the climate emergency, countries and their people need to transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

While some of the changes necessary to achieve net zero can create jobs and help save money, others might incur costs and lead to job losses. Impacts, both positive and negative, will be different for different people in different geographies across Scotland.

So, it is important to ensure that the country transitions to net zero in a way that is fair to everyone: a just transition to net zero.

Through ClimateXChange, researchers are working with policy teams from the Scottish Government to look into these issues and make sure that the best evidence informs policymaking for a just transition.

Earlier this month, nearly 150 people from government, academia and consultancies attended our event ‘ClimateXChange showcase: Evidence for a just transition’ to hear about findings from our recent projects in areas such as energy, agriculture and transport.

The presentations and honest conversations highlighted the complexity of the issue and all the challenges that we are facing in Scotland, and explored ways to achieve it.

Evidence for a just transition

We had presentations on a range of topics and from key Scottish Government stakeholders, our research community and the ClimateXChange secretariat.

The research we discussed included:

  • deliberative work with the public on perceptions around who should pay for a just transition
  • placemaking and a just transition
  • lessons from the Scottish islands on zero direct emissions heating
  • the importance of an integrated approach across institutions land uses and the rural economy in agriculture and land use
  • developing an understanding of the net zero and climate adaptation economy of Scotland to inform policy impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation.

Links to the slides are available at the bottom of this page.

The value of collaboration

The event highlighted that achieving a just transition will require more interdisciplinary research, with for instance economists, social scientists and climate scientists working together, and we need to take in diverse perspectives from communities and businesses. 

We need people working together across boundaries that are now silos, to identify a way through the complexity of achieving a just transition.

The level of engagement at the event demonstrated that there is a community ready to work together and discuss how to come towards a solution and enable rapid decision making.

Next steps

The Scottish Government have described the outcomes they want to achieve with regard to a just transition to net zero and are continuing to develop their understanding of the complexity of the challenge.

The next step is to further develop our understanding of the pathways to achieving these outcomes; describing what all the different stakeholders need to do, so that we can start to understand and monitor where we are on that journey. 

I’m hugely excited that ClimateXChange will keep bringing experts together with policymakers through networking, dialogue and relationships, so that we can help the Scottish Government to identify solutions and make decisions. This also involves supporting government in identifying the right policy questions, the right researchers to conduct the work and getting the right research done.

The outcomes Scotland set itself of achieving a just transition to net zero are big, bold and brave. If, by this time next year, we achieve more certainty about the pathway to these outcomes, then we will have had a success, and that’s what we need to focus on.

The work that we showcased at the event gave a great insight to the challenge that lies ahead, and it is a journey that we need to continue. 

Related links

Just transition: A fairer, greener Scotland – Scottish Government response

Final report executive summary from the 1st Just Transition Commission

ClimateXChange projects

Working with ClimateXChange

Slides

Context and overview, Pete Smith

Scotland’s just transition agenda, Colin Seditas, Scottish Government

Who pays for a just transition?, Nathalie Lodhi, Scottish Government and Ciaran Mulholland, IPSOS

Placemaking and a just transition, Anne Marte Bergseng, ClimateXChange; Kathryn Colley, James Hutton Institute and James Burns; Ansons 

Zero emissions heating in new buildings across Scottish islands, Freya Burns, Changeworks 

Skills and a just transition, Dave Reay, ClimateXChange 

Land use and a just transition, Sarah Govan, ClimateXChange 

Evidence for opportunities in Scotland’s net zero and adaptation economy, Stefanie O’Gorman, Ramboll and Lucy Geoghegan, Scottish Government

As the world transitions to greener energy systems with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change, it is crucial that the latest research informs policymaking and implementation.

Focused research is required for some aspects of this work, and here at ClimateXChange (CXC) we provide this for the Scottish Government, but there is research from other parts of the UK that can be relevant for Scotland. This is the case of research from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), a research programme funded by UK Research and Innovation.

Given that the CREDS programme is finishing, that we are closely connected and that the core role of CXC is to bring researchers and policymakers together, we thought it was timely to co-host an event to share the CREDS’ policy findings that are relevant to Scotland.

In this blog, we discuss some factors that contribute to successfully increasing the impact of energy demand research.

Connection with policymakers

Our team at CXC has been working with policymakers from the Scottish Government for more than 12 years. We therefore provide a trusted bridge between researchers and policymakers.

Hosting this event enabled us to link CREDS researchers with policymakers, which accounted to 35% of attendees, to identify synergies, help their work to make a difference.

This is a core part of what we do at CXC and the event provided a fantastic environment to build those links and make sure stakeholders are aware of energy demand research from across the UK.

Several attendees commented on how fortunate we are to have an organisation like CXC in Scotland, how unique our role is and how there is nothing like it in the rest of the UK bridging policy and expertise. Some, who are interested in ensuring their projects are policy-relevant and that research is targeted towards policy challenges, used the event as an opportunity to ask CXC to help connect them to government.

Short and clear presentations

There was a fantastic range of speakers and topics included, for instance local retrofit supply chains, exporting energy vulnerability and Covid-19 behaviours.

The CREDS team did a great job in requesting that presentations were bite size and in plain English, so that everyone from the audience could learn from them.. Attendees we spoke to at the event complimented that mix of themes and someone who worked on energy systems enjoyed it as much as someone who worked in behaviour and social change. Our in-person and online audiences seemed to agree, as most of our nearly 150 attendees stayed until the end.

Implications for Scotland

When putting together the agenda for the event, the CREDS team selected research that could be relevant for Scotland, even though some of it was conducted elsewhere in the UK.

Indeed researchers at the event kept their audience in mind when delivering their presentations. For instance, a researcher presenting work that was conducted in England highlighted the findings that were relevant to Scotland and how they could be used and/or have implications here.

Keeping presentations short, clear and tailored to Scotland was key to increase the impact of the research.

Inclusivity

While it was really useful for us to be able to meet in-person with new and existing collaborators, the hybrid nature of the event meant that even those who could not be there in person were able to see the presentations and contribute questions.

This hybrid aspect also fostered collaborations. One of our Scottish Government contacts got in touch recently. She had joined online, so we did not see her on the day, and she was interested in a project that we had mentioned and wanting to find out more. So the event was successful even for improving visibility of work across teams that already work together.

The future

The event ‘CREDS in collaboration: Scotland’ on 30 March was a great opportunity to enhance existing collaborations and kick-start new ones between researchers and stakeholders interested in using these results.

The spread of presentations highlighted the fact that the solution to reducing energy demand and meeting net zero targets does not lie solely on the technical side, but that behaviour change is also needed.

We were very pleased to see how successful the event was in terms of bringing evidence to policy. In the back of the event there are already clear links created between upcoming CXC projects and some of CREDS work.

Related links

CREDS

CXC research projects