The text below is the transcript from the Connect With Climate Change May 2021 video.
Video Title: Connect With Climate Change May 2021
Hello and welcome to everybody that's joining us today and welcome to our ScottishPower connect with climate change event on an equitable and sustainable future for all, is it pipe dreams or real schemes? So, my name's Rebecca Ford I’m going to be chairing today's event. I’m a chancellor's fellow at the university of Strathclyde and I’m one of four UKRI cop 26 fellows where my work is going to be focused on energy justice. today's event is part of a wider series of events and you can find out more about these on the ScottishPower connect with climate change webpage and there should be a link to that webpage on the bottom of your screen and on this website you can also find out more about our speakers today, I’m not going to do long introductions, but in today's session we're going to be exploring how the decarbonisation of our society and economy can happen in a fair, equitable and inclusive way that empowers communities and leaves no one behind and we've got a great panel to help us unpack this topic so joining us today will be Dr. Sennan Matar from the centre for climate justice at Caledonia at Glasgow Caledonian university, we've got Dr. Tavis Potts who's the director of the centre for energy transition at the university of Aberdeen, Gillian Dick who's the spatial planning manager at Glasgow city council and Hazel Gulliver, director of engagement at ScottishPower.
Each panel member will have five minutes to share their perspectives and following this we're going to be moved into a panel discussion fuelled by questions from you, so please do ask questions for our panellists at any time you can ask these you should have a slido box directly below the screen where you can see my face right now, if you're in full screen mode you might not be able to see that slido box so you can either exit the full screen mode to ask your question type it in and go back to full screen again. Alternatively, if you've got a second screen or device just head to slido.com and use the code #cwcc we'll endeavour to get through as many of these questions as possible, time permitting. So, without further ado I’m going to bring in our great panel and we're going to go to Dr. Sennan Matar first so Sennan perhaps you can kick us off with a bit of an overview of what a just transition could look like and why it's so important. Yes, thank you, hello to everyone it's great to be here to discuss what is a really vital conversation as we seek to combat climate change in a fair way so yes to start off the climate, the climate is changing as a result of the release of greenhouse gas emissions, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a slowdown in emissions and this presents us a crucial opportunity to try buck this trend but as we stand we are currently on a pathway for global average temperatures to continue to rise without stronger efforts to reduce emissions and climate change is expected and in many cases is already impacting our environments, our health, our livelihoods and our infrastructure.
However, these impacts are not equally shared across our society and between nations, so this is why there's this growing call at climate negotiations for the concept known as climate justice which means recognizing that the poorest and most vulnerable communities, individuals and countries will be most impacted by climate change. Not only will the poorest the most vulnerable be directly impacted by climate change but also our efforts to reduce emissions or protect against the effects of climate change can also have negative impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable if we do not consider equity and fairness in our approaches to climate action. This is to say it's not just a question of action but also how we achieve this action and in recent years this is where the concept of a just transition has become more mainstream and provided this, how.
Just transition is commonly understood to mean finding ways to a transition to a low-carbon economy that is fair to workers and communities, invest in new green jobs and addresses inequality and poverty. Now the concept was born from a concern that the transition from a high carbon to a low-carbon economy as part of a decarbonization agenda could negatively impact the economy and livelihoods of people in high carbon industries, mainly in industrialized nations but it has also come to encompass broader conversations around the fairness of climate action for the poorest and most vulnerable within society as well as between the developed and developing world. Now in the UK and much of Europe, the push to decarbonize our energy systems has spurred conversations on how we support workers in the fossil fuel industry and their communities to retrain for green jobs and or whether compensation should be given for a forced end to their livelihoods as well as how we support households to improve energy efficiency in their homes and adopt energy saving behaviour, particularly households in energy poverty with limited capacity to adopt new technology or behaviours to save energy. Whereas the just transition debate has also raised questions on whether climate finance i.e. the loans and grants given to help bring about climate action are reaching communities and countries in the developing world who need it the most to create low carbon infrastructure and help their communities be part of a just transition and we are beginning to see examples of green infrastructure in developing countries that, while reduced emissions displace or disrupt livelihoods of local communities.
So, this is why the concept of a just transition is so important it brings these difficult but vital conversations to the front of debate on climate action and it's important they are had if we are to strive to address climate change as well as bring about a fairer world, thank you
Thanks, Sennan, that was a great overview and an intro and I’m going to move over to Dr. Tavis Potts next and Tavis perhaps you can pick up on this and some of these ideas and give us a bit more of an overview about what's happening in your own backyard as well, so Tavis over to you.
Certainly, thank you very much Rebecca and great to speak to everyone today. So a just a transition what does it mean and essentially you're betting justice in to our approach to net zero, this is climate justice, energy justice, intergenerational justice, how do we think about those who are not even born yet have to shoulder a huge part of this problem going forward and so a lot of my research is about how we take these concepts and apply them at a practical scale and when we're talking about justice I find for me personally, I find to tell this a bit remote or a bit distant and so I tend to talk about fairness and inclusion and accountability, to achieve net zero and this is from our national levels in Scotland through to what's happening in our communities and the reality of households across both the international context and in our local areas here and our homes and towns, and then only if we get to this great level of granularity will we actually generate some of the acceptance of the changes that need to happen and I want to add a fourth pillar here and that's optimism it's not just focusing on what we could lose but what we gain and this of course in the broader changes of developing a green economy is how do we address some of these long-standing social problems around fuel poverty or labour market inequality or provision particularly the moment of decent green jobs, for those who are younger people in our communities off of those who have traditional issues in accessing the labour force and so I’m really encouraged by what's happening in terms of the just transition commission final report.
Particularly the aspect about empowering and invigorating our communities which is great which is ensuring that these changes aren't imposed on our communities, but we have dialogue and discussion and empowerment around them. What does this mean? it's contextual, it's dependent on space and place and people. It means that in simple terms energy transition has to have a social and an environmental test that it must pass in order to be successful and now while this is increasingly recognized at the national scale, I think it's patchier in when it comes to the reality on the ground in the in the local context so in places like Aberdeen, I’m happy to come back to these issues and explore them. It means that the energy transition isn't just a matter of industrial policy and practice or focuses solely on energy workers, although this is a key part of the problem in places and the solution in places like Aberdeen, but it's also about how do we actually empower communities, how do we unleash social innovation, how do we actually invest and build local wealth and local ownership of the just transition going forward, by a whole range of different means and opportunities, which I’m happy to explore as we go through the session.
Great thank you Tavis, that was really useful and hopefully we can come back to some of those issues that you highlighted. I’m going to now bring in Gillian Dick, who can perhaps share some insights from her role within Glasgow city council, so welcome Gillian.
Thank you, I’m going to take it to a kind of local level, I’m one of the planners in Glasgow our manager planning team but we're part of a project called connecting nature, which is a European project that's looking at nature-based solutions. Now when most people think about nature-based solutions they tend not to think about a place wide or a place based approach, they're thinking oh it's got something to do with biodiversity but it's about much more than that it's about not only the planning the delivery but also the stewardship of what we do and all of those kind of things tend to have a technical solution, they have some form of governance they have some form of funding mechanism. They sometimes have a form of co-production although we sometimes do things to communities rather than with them and they tend to use some data. Now normally we monitor things at the end and we kind of get at the start but if we're going to do true collaboration and stewardship and do a true place-based approach nature-based solution then we need to look at all three so when you're looking at it what we're starting to try and do in Glasgow is ask ourselves some questions about the actions that we're taking. So, we're asking do they have, or do they use a nature or a natural process, does it provide or improve social benefits? social cohesion? not only for the human population but also for the habitat and species.
Does it provide or improve economic benefits? does it provide or improve environmental benefits? and does it provide or improve biodiversity benefits? If the answer to any of that is no then we need to take a step back and look at what we're doing wrong because actually we shouldn't be doing something just for an economic benefit or just for a social benefit, it should be improving or at least doing no damage or no harm to all of those different perspectives. Now that's kind of, if you put that in the place lens what you're looking at is all the different societal challenges that are out there and you're trying to kind of balance them and trade them off without doing any damage to any of them and you're also trying to look at how you design at scale and how you make that happen across the whole of Glasgow so it's not really when I’m looking at Glasgow, it's okay to try something in one small place but if we can duplicate that and replicate that across the whole of the city then we're going to get a bigger kind of outcome and a better outcome.
It's about being inclusive, taking people and communities with us and the species with us as well it's about having some economic feasibility that makes it start to make sense financially and it's about being adapted if we're going to mainstream and make these things sustainable. Ultimately, it's about place and that's what we've always done in planning, if you go back to Patrick Geddes and Edinburgh 100 years ago, he said it was the right place for the right people at the right time and Jane Jacobs in America in the 60s said if you didn't like a place why would you fight for it? We now have the place standard in Scotland to get those places through into our planning context in Glasgow, where we have a development plan, we also have an open space strategy that look to create healthy high-quality places and compact city form and we talk about vibrant thriving connected and healthy places, which we embed in policy. We take that through into our open space strategy which throws that nature-based solutions lens over it where we like green spaces but also our blue and our grey.
So, our biggest open space in the city is the river, our second biggest open space is the footpaths and networks and roads and our third is actually our green, although we describe ourselves as the dear green city, there's lots of different things we can do, there's lots of different council strategies that we can engage with. So, we're embedding some of that work in the climate emergency implementation plan because if we understand what the benefits are for social cohesion for health and well-being, for environment, for economic and by diversity all at the same time then we can make better decisions and we can make decisions that start to become justifiable when we're looking at funding. It becomes very hard sometimes to get funding for things that are hard to sustain, it's unlike a bridge where you could build the bridge and you can see it has a kind of value that people take because it's a bridge whereas if you're looking at some of the climate interventions it's hard to see who benefits from them and when they benefit from them, and we're trying to look at using our open space to look at what the value is for people who connect with those spaces, how near they can be to those spaces but also how we use those spaces for play and education, for learning, for outdoor sport as growing spaces, walking spaces but also they give us a benefit to improve the air quality, reduce noise mitigate against flooding, connect places together. We can also get heat out of them.
So can we get all those benefits and use lots of different funding to create those great spaces that give us that social cohesion and can we also use some of our vacant derelict land to do that as well. So we're trying to make sure that we're looking at every move we make with that place-based approach and that nature-based solutions lens and asking ourselves are we doing no harm to social cohesion whether it's the human population or whether it's habitats and species are we doing no harm to the health and well-being? are we doing no harm to the environment? are we doing no harm to the economy? and are we doing no harm to the biodiversity? If we can answer yes, then we are most of the way there doing a place-based approach with that nature-based solutions lens and it also means that we're not only doing planning and delivery but we're also looking at our stewardship.
Great, thank you for those insights Gillian and we're just going to move over now and I’m going to invite Hazel to talk a little bit about how industry are responding with some specific examples perhaps of what's happening within ScottishPower, so, Hazel over to you.
Sorry, I just noticed the classic fail there and I’ve just...I’m just really pleased to be able to talk to you about what we're doing at ScottishPower in the context of the just transition I mean because we are absolutely committed to the transition, the green transition but we're absolutely aware as well the risk of this involved. So, while we're focused on all the jobs and the opportunities in relation to air quality and public health, we are also very aware that this is done in the most fair and equitable way. So, for ScottishPower ourselves it's over 20 years since we started looking at investing in renewables and the renewables of the future so it's really over two decades that we've been sort of at the forefront of this energy transition and that's something we're really proud of and it's a couple of years ago now that we sort of transitioned away completely from coal and gas and became a generator of 100% renewable electricity, so…but just in the just touch quickly on the public health point I think in the last year that has definitely come into a lot sharper focus particularly with covid we see that it's the more deprived communities are the ones who are potentially going to be affected by the energy transition in the same way as those communities were being disproportionately affected by the covid pandemic and what we need to do now is just to get on with continuing to address some of these issues.
We know we have to do it; I mean the oil and gas companies are aware of it we know that we can see them getting involved now and bidding for offshore wind and there…this morning that was in the news again about looking better they released Scottish offshore auctions. So we need that all to happen and we need the appropriate policy, decisive policy from governments and appropriate regulator frameworks and in order to allow us to invest and get the costs down in the same way as has happened for example in relation to wind, over the years and so just talking about ScottishPower in some specific examples from our side I mean our focus right now is on that dynamic green recovery from covid supporting jobs and encouraging behaviour change and really supporting the communities that will be affected as I mentioned and…
So we've moved away from coal and gas and I think it's easy for people to say that well that's the easy bit and maybe it is easy when we're talking about heat decarbonization and electric vehicles infrastructure development and relatively speaking maybe it's easy but I don't think 10 years ago anyone was going to say you're going to decarbonize a power system in the way that we have done. So taking Longannet for example at the time it closed in 2016 it was the third biggest coal power plant in Europe and there were 236 people employed there, so closing that down was not easy and involved a lengthy amount of detailed consultation with all affected employees and the surrounding communities, we’re well aware of the impact that it's not just those 236 people that are affected there's a whole community linked to that power plant that we have to think about. So that consultation allowed us to speak with those all the individuals concerned and discuss opportunities in relation to their future career development whether that was redeployment within ScottishPower looking at different options externally or perhaps voluntary redundancy or even retirement because a number of people were at the right age for that so, through that process we were able to talk to individuals about their own circumstances, offer work experience, relevant training and actually there was a significant number of people where we deployed within ScottishPower. More took their voluntary redundancy and retirement as that was the best option for them and a very small number found employment elsewhere and again that was not easy, but it had to be done.
So moving on from that now we're in a position where we've got around 40 on an offshore wind farms and already in operation we're developing those and creating jobs and communities all across the country and diversifying as well into jobs where we're going to be looking for new skills and new opportunities and we need the people to be able to develop those skills in order to give them jobs on our sites in relation to battery storage or solar development or even green hydrogen development is developing in Scotland now and I think it was Sennan or Tavis sorry mentioned communities and a piece of work we did a couple about a year and a half ago now we kicked off called zero carbon communities. Which was basically taking a look at the different communities around our network area where we operate so urban communities and rural communities and really setting out that in this transition there is no one-size-fits-all answer for communities and it's absolutely crucial for them to have their own say in the decisions that are being made for example in relation to the heat infrastructure or the electric vehicle charging infrastructure that's being considered for the area it should not be something imposed without local decision-making involved in that.
So, I think it's really important to stress again that the regulatory frameworks that exist need to allow for that local input into the decision making and in order to ensure that there's that smooth transition with the minimum impact to the community is concerned and I suppose maybe just one thing worth mentioning as well it's like it's something that you hear people from ScottishPower saying all the time we just need to get on with it. I mean a year ago we published a ten point plan for green recovery containing loads of ideas well ten for how to, how we can get the recovery going right now and ensure the plan is in place and sure there's enough volume of renewable generation being made available in the future and we just need to get going with all this stuff in order to make sure there's not just a gulf of nothing and then targets become even more difficult to reach. I mean I’ll leave it there, happy to talk about any of those things further.
Brilliant, thank you and I’m sure we'll come back to some of those questions and some of the issues that you raised. so, we've been getting some really great questions in already and I will just remind everyone to get your questions in if you've got a burning question if you haven't asked it already. There should be a little slido pop up right underneath the screen where you can see all of our faces if you're in full screen mode you might not be able to see that slido bar so you can either exit your full screen mode, alternatively if you've got a second screen or a second device go to slido.com and you can use the code #cwcc and ask a question directly there. So I’m going to start with a couple of we've got two questions in here actually about metrics and I’m going to start with the kind of broader question about metrics which is, what new and perhaps existing metrics could we be using to help gauge how we're doing and how kind of equitable and socially inclusive we are and we're moving towards? and I’m wondering maybe Sennan in your work that you've been doing at the centre for climate justice, have you come across any of these metrics in the research? can you share any ideas about metrics that could be used?
Certainly, well I would start off by reordering the point but Hazel made, when it comes to communities and just transition there isn't a one-size-fits-all and because just transition is quite new as an area or an approach there are there is no one example of metrics used to even measure what does justice mean because justice can be quite an abstract concept to put it into a metric but what we often see as frameworks when it comes to just transition is all about consolidation, engaging all the relevant stakeholders a process of mapping who those stakeholders are who's going to be affected. So, if you have an approach which has these different elements which is all about engaging with the community, figuring what the impact of just transit…or transition will mean for them then that's how you start to even measure how a particular action or intervention is going to affect community and their workers, but you wouldn't necessarily point to specific one-size-fits-all metrics. Now I know some research we've done looking at our centres done looking at green infrastructure in Glasgow and we've looked at how accessible green spaces or green infrastructure is to deprived communities and you and some of the research that I can point to, indicates that those in more deprived communities have less access to green infrastructure and green spaces, which is a common theme you see throughout the world in cities but that is almost a proxy as a metric for a just transition, but that's what I say there's no one-size-fits-all metric. It's a process specific to the intervention you're looking at.
Brilliant, thanks and Gillian I know you've been looking at kind of various metrics that you can be using and some of the impact assessment work you've been doing perhaps you can share some ideas around that?
Yes sure, as part of the connecting nature project we've been the front runner along with the university of acarunia and looking at how you do measure impact assessment we're using the open space strategy for that so we're layering not only quantity, quality and accessibility data that we have for our open spaces whether blue grey or green and then we're trying to layer social cohesion or social data health and well-being data environment economic and biodiversity over that. So, we could tell you now how many open spaces we have near 5, 10, 20, 30 most deprived communities we can also tell you whether we as professionals think those open spaces are of a good quality. The missing link is whether those communities agree with our assessment of quality and that's what we're trying to figure out but there's also a lot of stuff where we need to start looking at causality and actually looking for that look in the map, so we're starting to try and ask the maps. We're trying to get colleagues who are creating data to put that in GIS there's a big push from Scottish government under their digital planning to also get that in maps that's because when I’m looking for data if somebody's got it as a pdf or a word how do I get the pdf to talk to the word document to talk to my map whereas if I can get it GIS because it's all about the same, in the same space. We can start to layer, and we can start to ask questions you can also start to see impact.
The final thing I say is we're also trying to work on an impact assessment tool with the university of Acrania and part of connecting nature which will allow you to say this is the intervention I want to make, and it will identify some key and nice to have data that will allow you to start to figure out whether that is the right intervention and then to track it over time. So, what we're trying to do is make it iterative rather than that you do something then you monitor it and then you go away. So, when I talked about stewardship earlier it's like an infinity circle that your stewardship should lead you back to planning your next action and it shouldn't be fixing our actions over a 10–20-year period because one action will throw things in a different way. If we knock all the houses down, then your deprived community will disappear overnight and that will throw your data, so we need to be able to look at how those things work together.
Thanks Gillian and Tavis you've got some thoughts on this as well I believe.
Yeah Rebecca, I know that there's a lot of questions here, so I’ll be super brief. How you measure just transition is of incredible interest to a lot of us but basically, I would really love to measure at the over time the growth in quality green jobs and how those green jobs are distributed amongst different communities and places in Scotland. Now access to jobs into training around net zero is skewed towards particular socioeconomic groups and conversely, those in lower skilled or lower income areas are excluded from those opportunities. So really measuring the quality of green jobs where those green jobs are, how fast they are emerging and access to and how we're investing and boosting labour market accessibility is a key part of that measure.
Thanks, Tavis and what we'll make sure we do in the follow-up is there's actually a couple of articles that we will make sure we link to and we'll get those sent out to you along with this recording to share some other ideas about how this could be measured. Now I’m going to move on to a question that has been our most popular question in terms of voted by the audience. I’m not sure how well our panel will take to responding to it because it's very specific, but the question asks about investment and I think this tapped into the idea, that we've mentioned a few times about equity across generations and intergenerational justice. The question is that pension trustees are being asked to invest some of their capital in the transition and the energy transition in our net zero transition but there's a challenge in that the reports from investment managers are long on narrative and pictures and very short on performance metrics, expected returns on capital and income with which to pay pensions and why is this? I’m not sure if any of the panel have a perspective on this but I thought I would throw it out there saying…something a particular question
Yeah, go ahead Tavis.
I’m no expert at all in this area but it's just a point I think that we have around a just transition we have to really emphasize the principles of community wealth building in localities. This is an issue here in Aberdeen and we have the proposed energy transition zone and I think there's a lot more work to be done at looking at how we can have more plural ownership for realistic ownership of local economies and how we can socially or how we can have much more productive socially productive, use of land and ownership of the commons and and local supply chains and investing in local supply chains and the pensions funds are a part of this. How do you make financial power work for localities and invest we have backing localities? we have huge infrastructure problems whether it's social housing active transport networks by extension electric vehicle charging networks how are we going to invest in this stuff? and so I think by pulling the power of pension funds and local pension funds back into the community context is a part of that solution. It's not my area I don't have all the answers, but I just want to frame that local wealth, community wealth building I mean is a key part of this and something that we're interested in looking further into in the in the Aberdeen context.
Thanks, Tavis and Gillian you've got some thoughts on this as well.
Yeah I think from, if I give you the local authority perspective when we're looking for funding at the minute when…So we've got one of the biggest pension schemes the local authorities in west Scotland pay into and our pension scheme is probably as bad as any of them because it's looking for bridges or solid engineered infrastructure to invest in because it knows historically what that return will be and until we do some natural capital accounting of our green stuff and can give them those figures so they can see the returns, they're not going to invest in it because they can't see. Now there is an opportunity in that they have to carbon offset and various businesses have to carbon offset but we need to look at a different way of doing the accountancy so at the minute a lot of the green stuff like our parks for a local authority are zero rated on our account books, so that puts you on the back foot before you even start trying to pitch them to pension schemes to fund them because they're seen as a negative equity. So, we need to change the way we account for the green infrastructure and we need to change the way that we do some natural...accounting to capture the benefits of putting those…that infrastructure in until we can kind of combine those two and pension schemes are very wobbly and discover coming in because they can't see where they're going to get their return from
Thank Gillian. I’m going to move on to a series of questions that we've been asked about communities and I’m going to start with looking about how communities might benefit. So first of all are there any practical lessons from the industrialization that can be used to make sure that all communities will benefit from the net zero transition and from creating a net zero economy? and then very specifically, I think for you, Hazel we'll move on after to look at, are there any regulations or policies that require companies like ScottishPower so not ScottishPower explicitly but you know companies and industries to support effective communities and if not, you know, what's the motivation for profit-oriented companies to provide this kind of support? So, let's start with the kind of more general question you know are there any practical lessons that we can learn to make sure that everyone can benefit, and Tavis I know you're doing a lot of work with the community in Aberdeen so I’m wondering maybe you can share some thoughts first and we'll come to other panel members in due course.
Yeah, I think with that question I have a bit of a problem with the word deindustrialisation, that's not what we're planning as part of net zero it is a different form of industrialization. I think more of it I would like to think of it more as potentially around decentralization of the energy system promoting energy democracy and linking the energy system to energy justice so it's diversification and decentralization rather than de-industrialization. So that can unlock huge opportunities for communities as long as we get the financial settings right and we're able to engage communities in those conversations and I think at present we need to do far more work on understanding that local knowledge of bringing that local knowledge out, having more conversations. We've had the national climate panels and that's been a great start, but I think as a social scientist we need to work at the street level or the ward level because what faces you know even in Aberdeen, we have very very different communities that have very different needs. So, getting those voices out and transforming our local decision-making processes to enable that to happen, I don't think it does so at the moment particularly effectively we have a lot more work to do say linking net zero to the community empowerment act for example making a very tight link between those two things. We also need to ensure that those voices when we do hear about what changes are required and what's acceptable and what the opportunities are for place-based and social innovation, how that can be enacted. That's not just voices that it's actually real measurable change, so there are some of the things that we're working on here in in the northeast we have huge opportunities around major infrastructure developments like the energy transition zone but we do need to work harder and ensure that those developments are plugged in to the community visions for their areas and we need to really make sure that's going to happen and grow that with actual policy interventions.
Thanks, Tavis, Gillian can you share some thoughts from Glasgow’s perspective.
Yeah, sure I think if you kind of pitch the question slightly differently and I think maybe what they were pitching out was the 20th century the industrialization that happened in the 80s and 90s in somewhere like Glasgow left a lot of deprived communities living next to vacant derelict land which was contaminated abandoned, didn't feel safe, didn't feel inviting and doesn't feel inviting to new industries coming in. So, the lessons we're learning is to understand where your land is and what impact that makes on communities and also understanding what the issues are. So, there is a lot of vacant derelict land in Glasgow that's been on that list for a very long-time prime examples of that are along the Clyde now you think in a modern city we'd be looking at the Clyde as a great place to engage with a great open space but it's very invisible because of the drumlin landscape in Glasgow. But it's also visible because a lot of our waterfront for over 100 years was heavily industrialized because it was shipyards, and it was engine sheds, and it was people departing for America and goods coming in and we've just left that as economic land. A, because it's difficult and contaminated and B, because the road connections and the communities are built back from that. So, the lessons we're learning is how we engage again with those spaces how we take ownership of them and how we turn them into places that the community value and we need to start talking to communities about how we use those spaces. There are some really difficult conversations that we're going to have in Glasgow about those spaces because in an ideal world we wouldn't use them as economic. We would allow them to naturally flood again to protect further back but they have an economic value on the books in a way that a lot of our open spaces do not have because and therefore it makes it really difficult to look at how we imagine them. The other difficulty is how we decontaminate them and how we make them shuffle ready because that's why they're sticky sites if that helps.
Thanks Gillian and Hazel, I’m wondering if I can come to you further kind of ScottishPower specific question so is there anything there that's actually helping industry and companies you know really support effective communities in this way?
I mean I think from our perspective I think the most important thing to mention is like the duty of care we have as a responsible employer to employees is that the fundamental part of this and the communities that we work with as well I mean our people are an asset that's the bottom line really and the communities and the supply chain and everyone else those are all assets to us as a company so it's in our interest of course it's in our interests to behave in the most responsible way but this…As I said it was not easy it's not easy closing down a large coal power station and consultations with Scottish governments, trade unions, local councils and ongoing discussions with partnerships councils really made sure that we took on board all of the potential implications for people and the local communities and I think one of the most important points as well is that these are extremely skilled employees with really useful contributions to make and are now many of them are now employed at ScottishPower in other area, so it would be really sort of remiss of us to dismiss the opportunity to use those skills elsewhere as we grow the other parts of the business, such as the renewable sector and I think that's something that we've been trying to talk to others about as well, is talking to industry about where are the skills. Also, skills in jobs that perhaps through again covered as well as the energy transition in aerospace or whatever other engineering technology skills jobs may not be as in demand right now as they are in future. We know those kinds of skills are going to be needed in the renewables industry so what can we do or what support can we have from government or other agencies to try and transition those people into appropriate jobs. It's in our interests in the long term to have the right people there to help us do the jobs at the end of the day.
Thanks Hazel. So just moving on quickly we'll come back to communities in a second but are there any examples of where we've seen this work in practice? So, looking at transitions that have really benefited everyone, so really benefited those effective communities on the ground. Sennan, do you have some thoughts on this?
Certainly, I mean I would report to the example of the transition from the coal industry to the solar industry in Germany, which they essentially got local companies, local communities, trade unionists and higher education all in the same room to discuss what was necessary for these communities in order to make this transition. Where the skill, what new skills were needed and so it was always a collaborative approach so that that's one example I’d point to where actually engagement between all different stakeholders led to what was actually quite a successful transition from a cold local coal economy to a new green economy. Of course these conversations always brought those difficult conversations where someone who has perhaps been in a fossil fuel industry for most of their life and now in the last 10 years of their career, whether or not they go from that high end role to an essentially an apprentice role on whether or not that is fair so we see examples in Spain, where these individuals through essentially government intervention are compensated for their lost livelihood from that point on, but essentially it's not just one stakeholder. It's not just companies in good practice like ScottishPower it's also engaged with trade unions, engagement with the local communities’ engagement, with government is a partnership it all has to be everyone at once to really work.
Thanks, Sennan and Gillian you've got some thoughts as well.
Yeah, I was just going to say that there are smaller examples of that. So the food growing kind of exercise that's going on in Glasgow that's engaging in communities and a lot of them are socially deprived you might not think the benefit is getting people back into work or getting them to think about green but we've been running a business model canvas over Bellahouston growing space which has been talking to the communities which have been schools and charities that are dealing with people that either have mental health issues or are out of work and asking them who benefits from them and some of the benefits are about people becoming more confident and risk aware and therefore they become better into the job market and it also gives them new skills so they're moving from that heavily industrialized skills to skills that work more in the green economy. So, there are small little seeds of projects that are going that are actually trying to show communities that by engaging with the spaces around them they're building a new skill set that has a financial value for them.
Great thanks Gillian. I think so far, we've been talking about the potential impact on communities but actually we've got a series of questions about how local community action can contribute to tackling climate change alongside or in comparison with kind of broader top-down government-led initiatives. So this is not about the impact on communities but about the impact that communities can have in this space and so travis I might come to you if that's okay, to talk a little bit about you know the extent to which we think that community action could actually be a real, you know spark for change compared to perhaps government-wide initiatives.
I can speak about the northeast context again and I think we're only at the start of that process here in Aberdeen and we've had got some great foundations with the work of Aberdeen climate action and the and the climate cafes that have been running for a number of years up here, really bringing together lots of discussion and dialogue which is really encouraging. I think it's really important as energy transition relates to both energy workers and communities if we're talking about communities at this point. How we can really unlock what divisions are and what the pathways are that communities can have to achieve net zero. Every community is different so this is for where will EV charging spaces go for example who people who live in flats who can't charge on streets for example where will that infrastructure go? What are what are the ways for opening active travel routes? for example. How can we look at more sustainable and efficient energy solutions for communities? A lot of that local knowledge is rests within communities and it's unlocking that by really meaningful engaged processes and seeing that information is genuinely legitimate in terms of the decision-making process is going to fall forward. I would really like to see these community envisioning exercises such as the climate dialogues that we've seen actually be put in place alongside some radical views around deliberative democracy that communities can actually take charge of decision making and investment in their local areas and shape that to some of the areas where we need to go to achieve transition. We're not yet, we're a long way from that happening yet but I think that's the pathway I would like to see actually not communities as consultees but communities as empowered decision makers within their own right. There's a huge amount of knowledge locked up within communities that we need to unlock to achieve social innovation.
Thanks, Tavis. I mean I couldn't agree with you more but then I also want to reflect on another question that's been asked here which is that you know a lot of public and particularly deprived communities might not be engaged because they're focused on other priorities like getting food on the table and getting keeping employment and so on. So how can we start to overcome that significant challenge how can we simultaneously empower communities and make sure they have a voice whilst also recognizing that a lot of the time they're dealing with a whole load of competing priorities and I think that a number of the panel members have perspectives on that, so I’m going to come to Gillian first but we will go round and get a couple of different thoughts on this question because I think it's a real biggie.
Okay I’m going to give you a legislative solution which is the new planning act and Scottish government have put into place local place plans, that is communities empowered to make plans for their own area whether that's one street, three streets or whatever the legislation is currently going through parliament as we well not as we speak because they're in advance but they are looking at how they do that but it the new planning act also says that we have to front load community engagement we have to listen to community voices and communities can once the legislation comes through, tell local authorities when their development plan is out of date and tell them why. So, there's a new move and that's going to be very resource heavy if we're going to support deprived communities to engage with that. More affluent communities are…will have the skill sets will have the knowledge and we'll be able to do that, so the real issue is how we support those communities to engage there are examples where we are trying to build up the data so we give them the information so they can start to make value decisions about what are the right spaces, but they can also start to see the decisions that we're starting to make. I was just going to use very quickly example of…that green space Scotland now gone and done created a data set that shows you which open spaces might be great to get some power out the ground.
From a council perspective we would be looking to line that up with buildings around the park that might be able to take that power, but the local community could also then use that information to point to where would be the best recipients of that power who would, where would we get the most benefit from that. So, there's a lot of different things on the go at the moment I think that local engagement will change dramatically over the next two or three years just because of the change in the way that we have to spatially plan for Scotland as a whole.
Thanks Gillian. Hazel, I know you've got some thoughts here as well.
Yeah, I was just going to say that I think there's a lot we can do within our control in order to help where we can and where we can offer expertise and advice and support. I just wanted to mention the ScottishPower energy networks green economy fund which is exactly in place for this reason to provide, for example in Ayrshire we set up a pilot scheme for two years to help vulnerable people get access to hospital appointments or job interviews using electric transport which they would never have otherwise had the opportunity to do or in Hawick, we funded a community-owned car club again providing electric vehicles to a community that would never have otherwise had that and I think it goes back to that point I think everybody said at some point there's no one-size-fits-all and there will be some people within those communities to engage with and it's just about finding those people and latching on to them and embracing what they are bringing to you, as what they need for their community rather than trying to impose something that might work in the city centre of Glasgow but it doesn't work in the rural community. That was all.
Thank you, Hazel, I’m going to go over to Tavis for some thoughts as well. So, in the northeast in Aberdeen, we have the proposition of the energy transition zone and at least part of that zone is proposed because the full details aren't evident yet to be cited in essentially one of the most poorest communities or adjacent to one of the most poorest communities in the city, in the last remaining green space for that community. So, I think there are there are real issues around that, it's an exciting development but it has to be able to prove that it can actually remove or restore, not remove local biodiversity and actually provide real jobs real green jobs in a short time frame for that community and so that's the challenge there that I that I hold out to the proponents of that development to look into. We need to invest in community engagement, many of the members of the community have received very poor information about the development or are not aware of it at all because as you said they're people just trying to survive particularly in in displaced communities with real issues there so investing in them I also as an academic, I think for the past year has been you know very challenging for all of us but I think there's a real new role, that the role of the university in the cities and universities in the region could actually put a lot as much effort, if not more effort into focusing on our local regions, that surround our institutions. As opposed to engaging in research at a global level, now that's still very important to have that global outreach as an institution but I’d like to see that matched actually by focusing on what is happening in my backyard, my street, my region. How can I actually support as a researcher community working on energy transitions? which are very real, very important and just as important as they are here in other parts of the world so a refocusing a re-energization of where the focus of the local university is, in its own regional area.
Thanks, Tavis, I think those answers have tried to help unpick some quite challenging tensions perhaps around including people whilst also being kind of quite aware around people's different priorities. I want to come to a question that is going to unpick another tension which is around the concept of inclusivity and making sure that everybody is represented in the transition, whilst also recognizing the need to move really quickly to meet our net zero targets and the challenges that we're faced with. So Sennan, maybe I can come to you for some thoughts on this.
Certainly, yeah, the way I’ve seen this dilemma posed ids, is there essentially enough time to go through this process of making sure everyone is represented and their interests are properly accounted for. It's this debate of should we be moving as quickly as we possibly can to this transition to a low-carbon economy and accept essentially the human cost as collateral but I always, I rebuff that saying that's almost a false dilemma because inclusivity and in climate action is allows climate action to actually be effective for the communities of which we wish to adapt or mitigate climate change for, because there are plenty of examples and we've been discussing some here of climate action which, like low emission zones which have been introduced with the promise of mitigating climate change, but for example have simply just pushed where pollution happens to outer ring roads near more deprived communities. So, if we do not have that community engagement, the effectiveness of climate action is negatively impacted as it is, so it is a false dilemma. You cannot have effective climate action if you do not have community engagement and participatory action.
Thanks, Sennan and I’m so sorry we haven't been able to get through all of the questions we've got so many wonderful questions we've still not managed to answer and in fact somebody's asked if we can try and create a transcript of these with links to any resources that could help answer them. I think we will try and do that I’ll work after the session to try and organize that. So, I’m going to stop our Q&A session here and I want to just go to each of our panellists to share their closing thoughts and they have about 30 seconds each so that we finish on time, so Hazel over to you first.
Thanks Rebecca, I guess maybe I would just echo the point on speed in the last question it's like we know the energy transition has to happen and we are all well aware that we have to do our best to make sure it’s fair, but we just need to get cracking with things. We need to make sure the right market framework is in place; we need to make sure that innovation is rewarded and then investment will flow and ultimately bring down the costs that we're looking at for in relation to heat decarbonization and transport decarbonization as has happened with the…in relation to wind generation for example. So, if we take the right action now that's what's going to unlock economic benefits and incentivize the private investment that's required create those jobs boost supply chains locally and just make sure none of the communities that we're involved with are left behind in any way.
Thank you, thanks Hazel, over to Gillian.
I wouldn't expect anything else from a planner, it's all about place it's what makes a space into a place if you don't like a place why would you fight it? So, there is some kind of notion that if you've got communities fighting for a space and a place, they must love it or they must value it at some point even if we as professionals think it's a mess or think it's terrible or think it's of low quality and we need to listen. We need to pause, and we need to listen to what people are actually saying to us about the places and spaces in which they engage, because that will make us more climate adaptive in the long run.
Brilliant, thank you Gillian. Tavis?
Yes, we can't separate social justice from climate justice. There are huge you know inequalities that we need to address as a part of a just transition both at home and abroad. This starts up from the ground up in our communities and we really need to ensure that all of our initiatives around energy transition can pass the social and the ecological test that embeds fairness and accountability and inclusion into the transitions process.
Thank you Tavis and Sennan, final words from you?
Thank you, yes, the just transition is a pathway for social justice for our own societies and across the world and we know we have this. We really risk a transition to a low-carbon economy being unfair. If we want it to be an equitable process, we need to change our approach, we need to involve communities trade unions governments companies’ academia all in this process together if we want this equitable change, it is a, it is a choice that we have to choose to make.
Thank you Sennan, so all that's left me is to thank our panel members for such a great discussion today and to thank everybody that's listening and participating for such a, you know a great set of questions. A quick reminder to fill in the poll that I think should be appearing on your screen and very shortly after the session you're going to get an email with a link to the video from today and any resources that the panel referred to as well as information about future events. You can also find out more about some of these future events on the ScottishPower connect with climate change website and we really hope to see you at the next one. Which will be looking at some of the ambitious climate action going on in Glasgow and in Orkney and that's happening on the 29th of June but for now thank you so much for joining and goodbye.