Significant investment will be required for the 10-point plan, including the necessary training and re-training of those in the old energy sector to ensure these communities are supported

While the prime ministers recent 10-point plan was praised by some as a positive signal of intent, others (myself included) highlighted how it did not go nearly far enough. One glaring omission was the future of the oil and gas industry and support for the sectors workers and communities.
Even under the governments inadequate net zero target by 2050, both production and consumption of oil and gas will need to decline significantly. This will have a major impact on workers and communities, with both local and national consequences.
Today, a report released by IPPR as part of the Environmental Justice Commission which I co-chair, calls for a “Net Zero Deal” for the oil and gas industry. It proposes that  North Sea oil and gas should be left in the ground and the UK and Scottish governments should commit to a co-design process, with the governments jointly working up a plan to support the workers and communities with new jobs and investment in the industries of the future. Crucially, it argues that the deal must be co-created between industry, trade unions and most importantly workers and communities.
Such a plan is all the more essential because, as the coal mine closures and deindustrialisation of the 1980s showed, the UK does not have a good track record of providing the necessary support for workers and communities.
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The overwhelming majority of workers hired directly in the oil and gas sector are located in Aberdeenshire. Although when you take into account the wider supply chain and the overall number of workers both grows and spreads across the country (though still with almost two-fifths in Scotland).
That ultimately is why a well-managed just transition is so important: we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past by failing to support workers and communities who will be affected by the policy response to the climate crisis. But far from merely preventing a threat, a just transition is also a significant opportunity not only to provide a bridge out of the oil and gas sectors for its workers, but to actually improve job-quality and regenerate communities.
The job losses caused by Covid-19 are just the latest wave in a boom-and-bust cycle of insecure employment experienced by workers in the industry. Between 2009 and 2019, the industry gained 170,000 workers, peaking in 2014 and then shed them all again over the next five years. It is little wonder that a recent survey of oil and gas workers showed that 58 per cent of workers were unhappy with their job security.
The goal of a just transition must be to provide high-quality work for those moving out of the sector, and opportunities for anyone wishing to retrain or train for the first time. This is particularly true for women and people from minority ethnic groups, both of which, as the industry knows, are chronically under-represented in the energy sector as a whole.
Initiatives like the Just Transition Commission in Scotland are a good start, but need the capacity to conduct meaningful engagement with workers and trade unions: genuine collaboration is emphatically not the same thing as consultation.
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More importantly, as the history of the Lucas Plan (no relation!) has shown, by failing to consult workers, policymakers are denying themselves a wealth of experience and a valuable resource of innovative ideas. A just transition must fundamentally involve setting out a plan with workers, rather than doing it to them.
Finally, a just transition must be concerned not just with job-quality, but where these jobs are located. A plan that creates new jobs in low carbon sectors, but not in the same places where jobs are being lost, is not a just transition.
Thankfully, there are many opportunities for re-purposing existing assets and creating local jobs. The most obvious starting point for oil and gas workers is decommissioning. As production decreases, this will provide a steady pipeline of wells, and hence demand for skills, that need to be plugged properly. Opportunities also exist for offshore wind projects to make use of oil and gas infrastructure.
However, it is essential that technologies like carbon capture and storage are not exploited by the oil and gas industry to justify continued extraction and delaying the essential phase-out of fossil fuels.
It will require significant investment to realise these opportunities, and that must come mainly from the UK government. The IPPR plan also calls for funding of skills academies to support the necessary training and re-training and the creation of a Low Carbon Wealth Fund for Aberdeenshire to support low-carbon projects tailored to local needs and opportunities.
Taken altogether, a just transition that places an emphasis on job-quality, co-creation with workers and trade unions and a focus on the places affected is ultimately what “building back better should look like. Now it is up to the government to keep that promise.
Caroline Lucas is Green Party MP for Brighton and co-chair of the cross-party IPPR Environmental Justice Commission