The climate emergency is the biggest threat facing humanity. Experts tell us that we have just over a decade to take action. And while that might sound daunting it also brings with it opportunities.
That’s why I’m calling for a Green New Deal for Shetland.
I understand that many jobs in Shetland rely on fossil fuel industries, that’s why the Greens don’t propose shutting the oil off today, but rather we advocate a just transition, ensuring that there is a plan in place to replace the jobs with good quality alternatives in new technologies.
The islands are at the forefront of the climate crisis, but we are also well placed to capitalise on our abundant wind, wave and tidal resources and I’ll advocate for these jobs to come to Shetland. Lerwick is already well known as a centre for oil and gas decommissioning and I know that we can attract even more of these jobs.
In the past couple of years, the Green MSPs have shown what influence a small group of parliamentarians can have, gaining hundreds of millions of pounds for councils across Scotland during budget negotiations, including extra cash for Shetland Islands Council to support important local services and invest in internal ferries.
We’ve made it clear that tackling the climate emergency must be at the heart of future budgets, and if elected I would work alongside my Highlands and Islands colleague John Finnie MSP to continue to deliver more resources for Shetland.
A Green New Deal is not just about energy production. We know that Shetland faces a challenge to tackle fuel poverty – that’s why ensuring everyone has a warm home would be a key priority for me. I’ll work with the council to ensure that more homes are built. We desperately need to make renting fairer, and to have more homes available for social rent.
Brexit presents another massive challenge and will likely have a devastating impact on our farmers, crofters and fishers. I’ll fight to keep Scotland at the heart of Europe, to protect these industries and ensure the highest possible animal welfare and food standards apply.
We know that neither the current CFP nor the post Brexit bonanza sought by some are ideal solutions. However, fish don’t recognise international boundaries and therefore Greens advocate for building on existing arrangements, enhancing the evidence base and having locally managed fisheries as part of wide international co-operation.
We believe that farming support should only go where public benefit is accrued, and support measures which increase biodiversity. I also support consolidation of the current complex crofting legislation.
Last year Green MSP Andy Wightman led a cross party case all the way to the European Court, defeating the UK Government and revealing that the UK can withdraw its Article 50 notice to leave the EU whenever it wants.
In light of the Brexit chaos, and the new Prime Minister we’ve had foisted upon us, I believe the people of Scotland must have a choice over where our future lies
Debra Nicolson is the Scottish Greens candidate for the Shetland by election.