This is the text of a letter sent to Humza Yousaf MSP, First Minister of Scotland, on 20 October 2023:
Dear Mr Yousaf,
Thank you very much for your letter of 5 September about your first Programme for Government. The Just Transition Partnership* welcomes the clear commitment to tackling the climate and nature crises, and to delivering just transition plans. We also want to thank you for the opportunity to meet you and Cabinet Secretary Mairi McAllan MSP on 15 August.
However, the delivery against these objectives on the ground is far from measuring up to the ambitions in your and previous Government’s policy documents, in particular on the creation of jobs in supply chains for new energy developments.
There are many significant opportunities for industrial development in Scotland arising from the need to decarbonise the economy. So far the benefits which were anticipated in terms of jobs and industry have not materialised at the scale which was forecast; and looking ahead, we fear that they will not in the future, because we have not seen any mechanisms put in place which will ensure sufficient investment in jobs in manufacturing or production and which will anchor them in Scotland.
The allocation of funds is only a first step, it then matters how they are spent, and the system based on grants and support to private enterprise has not delivered. We believe that the current market-based approach to energy and the neo-liberal foundations of industrial policy are failing; and that a completely different approach based on public enterprise and extending public ownership is required.
We therefore hope that you will revisit plans to create a publicly-owned energy company, for which you stated your support during the SNP Leadership election. A new approach should also include requirements for public equity stakes in the infrastructure vital to the transition, such as ports; and conditions requiring companies to engage in just transition planning being attached to government support and procurement. The upcoming Green Industrial Strategy must represent a break in the approach so far by mandating decent work and local investment from key sectors for the transition such as energy, heating, and transport. We would hope that these measures would also feature in the New Deal for Businesses and its review of regulatory functions.
Such a change of approach would require the commitment of not only those parts of government with direct responsibilities for just transition and climate change, but also for economic policy, the NSET, the Infrastructure Investment Plan and the enterprise agencies. It would have to be driven from the very top of the Government. For that reason we are requesting a meeting with you on how to do things differently from the methods which have been used to date and which have failed to deliver.
We recognise the challenges involved in Just Transition planning and delivery and we are keen to offer our support and insights on these, drawing on input from our member organisations in the trade unions and environmental movements and based on our seven years of policy development and campaigning.
Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Council
Mary Church, Head of Campaigns, Friends of the Earth Scotland
for the Just Transition Partnership