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Climate / SIC to discuss climate change as grassroots group hands in petition

A PETITION with more than 500 signatures calling on Shetland Islands Council (SIC) to declare a climate emergency will be presented to councillors next week.

Shetland Climate Action wants the SIC to provide a clear signal of the seriousness of the situation by joining other local authorities in Scotland that have already done so.

The council is set to discuss what it can do to mitigate its and the community’s greenhouse gas emissions at the environment and transport committee on Tuesday (21 January) and the full council the following day.

Members of the local grassroots group will have the chance to address councillors at the start of the full council meeting.

Councillors will discuss a report by director of infrastructure, John Smith, in which he proposes to build on and, where possible, accelerate the council’s response to climate change and to further develop an integrated Shetland Climate Change Action Plan.

At 10.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year, Shetland has – unsurprisingly – one of the worst, if not the worst, carbon footprint of all UK local authorities.

Over 50 per cent of current council CO2 emissions come from internal ferry operations.

Shetland Climate Action said a greater sense of urgency in responding to the climate crisis is needed.

“Declaring a climate emergency is more than just ‘words’ and our petition sets out what it could mean for SIC,” the group said.

“We’d like to see the council set up a working group to develop a Climate Emergency Action Plan and agree a target date for achieving net zero emissions.

“We also encourage the council to engage more with the public on this issue, promoting an understanding of the climate emergency and helping residents explore Shetland-specific solutions.”

“We recognise the carbon reductions that the Council has made in recent years, however Shetland requires a much greater sense of urgency – the longer we leave it, the harder it will be to transition to a greener, cleaner community”.

Twenty local authorities in Scotland and over 1,200 local authorities worldwide declared a climate emergency in 2019.

Shetland Climate Action’s petition can be found here. The council’s agenda for Tuesday’s transport and environment committee meeting, including the climate change – strategic outline programme reports can found here.