Leading from the front? Increasing Community Participation in a Just Transition to Net Zero in the North-East of Scotland

Tavis Potts, Rebecca Ford

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In line with Scottish Net Zero targets and the national strategy for a Just Transition, the Northeast of Scotland is transforming towards a low carbon future with a number of high-profile industry and policy initiatives. With the region home to global energy companies and historical high levels of energy sector employment, the narrative on transition is predominantly framed within an industrial and technological context, including narratives on new opportunities in green jobs, green industrial development, technical innovation and new infrastructure to support energy transition.
As the energy landscape shifts in the North-East of Scotland, the impacts will be felt most keenly in communities from shifts in employment to changes to local supply chains. It is important to note that Net Zero ambitions will also change the nature and structure of communities in the region, for those within a shifting oil and gas industry and those without. A just transition ensures that all voices are heard, engaged and included in the process of change, and that communities, including those who have benefited and those who have not, have a stake in determining the direction of travel of a changing society and economy of the North-east. As a result, there is a need for a community-oriented perspective to transition which discusses a range of values and perspectives, the opportunities and resources available for transition and how communities of place can support
the process of change toward Net Zero.
Social transformation is a key element of a just transition and community engagement, inclusion and participation is embedded in the principles laid down by the Just Transition Commission. Despite this high-level recognition of social justice and inclusion at the heart of transition, there has been little move to understand what a just transition means in the context of local communities in the NorthEast.
This project aims to address this imbalance and promote the ability of communities to not only engage but to help steer net zero transitions. It seeks to uncover and build a stronger local consensus about the vision and pathways for civil society to progress a just transition in the Northeast of Scotland. The project aims to do this through bringing together civil society, academic, policy and business stakeholders across three interactive workshops to:
1. Empower NE communities to engage with the Just Transition agenda
2. Identify what are the key issues within a Just Transition and how they can be applied in the Northeast.
3. Directly support communities by providing training and resources to facilitate change by working in partnership.
The project funding supported the delivery of three professionally facilitated online workshops that were held over 2021/22 (Figure 1). Workshop 1 explored the global principles within a just transition and how these could apply to the Scottish context. Workshop 2 examined different pathways and options for transition in the context of Northeast Scotland. Workshop 3, in partnership with NESCAN explored operational challenges and best practices with community participants. The outcomes from the three workshops are explored in detail.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherScottish Universities Insight Institute
Commissioning bodyScottish University Insight Institute
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank our funder the Scottish University Insight Institute for funding and supporting this project. We would also like to thank our project partners NESCAN Hub and Power Circle and the community and civil society groups, local stakeholders and individuals who joined us at our events.


  • Just Transition


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