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Climate / Petition calls on SIC to declare climate emergency

A sign held aloft at a climate strike in Lerwick in September. Photo: P. Johnson/Shetland News

OVER 250 people have now signed a petition calling on Shetland Islands Council to declare a climate emergency.

The online petition says the “climate is changing and we’re already seeing the impacts of rising temperatures on the natural world” – with action needed now.

It follows a busy gathering at Lerwick’s Market Cross last month as part of a global strike to call for greater action on climate issues.

More than 200 local authorities in the UK have declared a climate emergency to focus efforts on reducing emissions.

While this list includes Orkney, Shetland Islands Council has not done so, insisting that making the declaration without a plan of action is not the way forward.

It has, however, confirmed that it will look to revise targets in its existing carbon management plan.

The petition calls on the council to also set local emission reduction targets to achieve net zero emissions or be carbon neutral by 2030.

In response to the petition, chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson said an action plan would enable the local authority to be accountable to the public.

“The council has a carbon management plan which has resulted in real reductions to our carbon emissions, and this will continue to be prioritised in the coming years,” the councillor said.

“A revision of this plan with new revised plans and targets will come to councillors in the next committee cycle.

“While I understand absolutely the need to do whatever we can, I reiterate that any statement of emergency without any plan to tackle it would just be a meaningless political statement. What we need to see is an action plan with targets so we can be accountable to the public in our efforts for change.

“The SIC wants and needs to lead on community change. We, along with partners, plan on producing a community action plan with targets across Shetland, not just within the SIC, to demonstrate and monitor improvements and change.”

General Election - 12 December 2019