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Climate / People encouraged to take part in global climate strike

Climate protestors outside Lerwick Town Hall in June. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

SHETLAND is set to take part in a global climate strike later this month as millions around the world call for more action on the “climate catastrophe”.

Protestors will gather at the Market Cross in Lerwick on Friday 20 September from midday to 2pm.

It is part of a wider global strike on 20 September in which millions of people are set to step away from their workplaces and homes to join youth climate protestors who go on ‘strike’ from school on Fridays.

Locally the campaigners will encourage Shetland Islands Council (SIC) to follow other local authorities – including Orkney – and declare a climate emergency.

A group of locals organising the Shetland protest said they were inspired by the efforts of Eco Youth Shetland, a band of teenagers who organised a strike from school in June to call for greater action on climate issues.

People attending are encouraged to bring signs and placards, or wear green, while campaigners could bring snorkels to “illustrate rising sea levels”. Instruments are also encouraged.

“People are welcome to strike from work, take annual leave or come along on their lunchbreak – just help in whatever way you can to make the voice of those concerned about the climate crisis heard,” the organisers said.

It comes after the group of young campaigners who organised the school strike in Shetland gave a presentation to Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee on Monday.

They also called on the local authority to declare a climate emergency, while they urged councillors to speed up environmental initiatives in areas like reducing waste, recycling and green transport.

While the council has declined to call a climate emergency at this stage until a plan of action is in place, the group behind the September strike said a declaration could act as a starting point.

“We only have a short period of time to draw up an action plan to radically bring down our carbon emissions,” they said.

“We cannot expect a realistic plan to be adopted by all levels of the council until this is acknowledged as an emergency – a declaration is the catalyst needed so that discussions can be held, targets can be set and immediate actions can be agreed.”

The group is also encouraging people to participate in other parts of Shetland if Lerwick is not suitable by holding their own local climate events/meet-ups/strikes on 20 September.

People are also encouraged to join in on social media using the hashtag #shetlandclimatestrike.

Chairman of Shetland Islands Council environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson, meanwhile, took to Facebook on Thursday to explain why the SIC has not yet declared a climate emergency.

He said: “We face challenges here in Shetland that not many other local authorities have, simply because of our geography. Air and ferry travel to and from Shetland, combined with our internal fleet of ferries and tugs among other things mean our carbon emissions are higher than we would like. we need to understand further how we can go about reducing our carbon footprint.

“We need to set targets, review policies and eventually review progress so targets are met. we need to understand what changes we can implement and what these would mean for our communities, what it would mean for our carbon management plan, and also our medium term financial plan.

“This work is ongoing. Before we declare a climate change emergency, it needs to be done only when the time is right so it doesn’t simply become a meaningless political statement.”

More information on the September strike can be found online.