The call comes in the final report from the Just Transition Commission (JTC), set up to help the Scottish Government manage the shift to net-zero emissions.
The team says climate action, fairness and opportunity “can and must go together” to ensure the whole country buys in to a greener way of life and mistakes of the past are not repeated.
The report sets out 24 recommendations aligned to four key messages to ensure that changes required to meet climate goals are enacted “by” the people of Scotland, rather than “done to” them.
The commission highlights the need for “an orderly, managed transition to net-zero that creates benefits and opportunities for people across Scotland”.
To do this, it says citizens must be equipped with the necessary skills and education they need to benefit from green jobs and opportunities.
At the same time communities should be “empowered and invigorated” and local economies strengthened, with the benefits of climate action shared.
The report comes eight months ahead of the globally important United Nations Cop26 climate summit, which is being co-hosted by the UK government in Glasgow this November
Professor Jim Skea, chair of the JTC, said: “The experience of Covid shows us that global challenges require decisive action.
“As the pandemic recedes, Scotland has the opportunity to make real progress in tackling climate change, whilst improving the lives of its citizens.
“Given the scale of change required, it is more important than ever to ensure the hearts as well as minds of the nation are aligned behind this vital goal.
“Climate action, fairness and opportunity can and must go together.
“This will help avoid the mistakes of previous industrial transitions, the negative effects of which continue to be felt.
“We have the building blocks already in place in Scotland to make this a reality and it is vital that the transition to net-zero is backed by a sense of collective national endeavour, especially in this year of Cop26.
“Our recommendations aim to do just that and showcase Scotland’s ambition to the world.”
The final report builds on two previously published by the JTC – an interim report published in February 2020 and a report on Scotland’s post-Covid green recovery in July 2020.
The JTC has drawn on the expertise of 12 commissioners from industry, trade unions, the third sector and academia who engaged extensively with the public and businesses.
Dave Moxham, JTC commissioner representing the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said: “Scotland urgently needs to tackle the climate emergency but the action we need to take will only be sustained if it is fair, and workers and communities across Scotland feel the benefits.
“The recommendations in this report call on government to take action to support workers in carbon-intense sectors and start building the local supply chains that can create jobs across Scotland and power our transition to net-zero.”
Lang Banks, JTC commissioner and director of WWF Scotland added: “Our report is clear: together, we can deliver a future Scotland where both people and nature thrive.”