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


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