On October 30, DeSmog UK began a new series of reporting titled Just Transition, from Fossil Fuels to Environmental Justice , which it describes as “a comprehensive exploration of the UK‘s prospects for a just transition towards a sustainable future and environmental justice.” The first installment, Part One: Kingdom of Coal profiles Fife, Scotland: the history of its coal mine closures around 2002, and the transition to its current situation as the site of a gas extraction facility run by Shell and an ethylene production plant operated by ExxonMobil. The report states that the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued fines and final warning letters to both Shell and Exxon for the flaring conducted at the two sites; a SEPA investigation into the flaring is underway, with a report scheduled for November 2018. Finally, Kingdom of Coal discusses the prospects for a just transition for Fife to a renewable energy industry, in the context of the Just Transition principles proposed by the Friends of the Earth Scotland. The impending Brexit threatens funding from the European Investment Bank (which was used to build the Beatrice Wind Farm in the Moray Firth), and “wider economic insecurity makes longer-term investments, such as hiring more apprentices, growing the workforce and investing in new machines and premises, increasingly challenging.”
Update: Part 2 of the series, City of Oil appeared on November 7 and profiles Aberdeen Scotland. Employment there centres on the harbour and the specialist tasks associated with the North Sea offshore oil and gas industry – decommissioning oil platforms at the end of their life, laying sub-sea cables, servicing and maintaining offshore drilling platforms – and representing the new economy, the offshore wind turbines of the Vattenfall installation. Through interviews, the report describes the workplace issues of the workers on ships under flags of convenience in the North Sea , changes to shift schedules for oil rig workers, and a growing problem of poverty.
Just Transition, from Fossil Fuels to Environmental Justice is described by DeSmog UK as : “This powerful new series starts from the basis of understanding that current lifestyles are dependent on oil and plastic, and that we are all to some degree complicit and integrated into the present system. It looks at how the UK can achieve the immediate, transformative and radical changes to the economy and society necessary to address the climate crisis. And it addresses this transformation through the perspectives of the communities that will be most affected.”