We all use energy – from heating, cooking and lighting to transport, as well as creating products and gadgets. In less than 40 years our total energy consumption has doubled and with our population rising and modern living standards becoming more common, we are demanding more energy than ever before.
In the recent past, we have been heavily dependent on fossil fuels to fuel our lifestyles. However, releasing energy from fossil fuels involves burning them, which releases harmful gases called greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide. Global warming is the result, and it is having a devastating effect on our planet.
To stop our planet getting warmer we need to move to net-zero emissions, and we have an opportunity to do so in a way that everyone benefits. The many ‘just transitions’ that will need to happen will take place in all areas of our society. This can be achieved by ending our dependency on fossil fuels as an energy source and making do with the resources we have or adopting new technology and developing more planet-friendly infrastructures.
For example, the just transition to net zero emissions will particularly impact Scotland’s oil and gas industry. Oil and Gas UK have worked closely with the UK Government to set out the North Sea Transition Deal. Within this deal, the oil and gas sector and the UK Government have committed £14-16 billion to invest in new technologies and support the reskilling of workers by 2030. This deal also allows for the support and creation of approximately 40,000 direct and indirect supply chain jobs. This is just one example of an industry taking steps towards a more sustainable future.
As part of the Fairer Futures campaign, Glasgow Science Centre will be exploring the idea of a Just Transition by engaging with the perspectives from across Energy, Transport and Travel sectors in Scotland. We reached out to professionals in these sectors to hear their thoughts on how we can achieve this and stay on track for net-zero by 2045. We have also included additional resources from GSC to help you explore the technology, skills and opportunities required while achieving a just transition.
Please explore the interviews in full below.
What is Just Transition?
Just Transition is an action, or something that is described as being morally right or fair for everyone. In the context of climate change, and our transition to net zero, it means that everyone is able to benefit from the new system and no one is left behind.
The Scottish Government has committed to ending our contribution to climate change by 2045. This goal was set within the Climate Change Bill which was introduced to the Scottish Parliament as a direct response to The Paris Agreement, which requires all parties to increase action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while taking into account “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs”.
What does it mean to be net zero?
Net zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out.
Think about it like a bath – turn on the taps and you add more water, pull out the plug and water flows out. The amount of water in the bath depends on both the input from the taps and the output via the plughole. To keep the amount of water in the bath at the same level, you need to make sure that the input and output are balanced.
Reaching net zero applies the same principal, requiring us to balance the amount of greenhouse gases we emit with the amount we remove. When what we add is no more than what we take away we reach net zero. This state is also referred to as carbon neutral; although zero emissions and zero carbon are slightly different, as they usually mean that no emissions were produced in the first place.
We have created an educational pack for communities and schools to introduce the topic of a just transition to net zero.