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Climate / Climate group wants ‘greater response’ from SIC

Wir hame is on fire: Climate strike rally in Lerwick in September 2019. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

THE GROUP campaigning for action on climate change has written to councillors ahead of meetings next week claiming that a “greater response” is needed from the local authority on the issue.

Shetland Climate Action wants a report on climate change be amended to include a recommendation that the council commits to declaring a climate emergency by no later than 31 March.

It said the “sheer scale of this challenge demands a greater response than the report proposes”.

The lengthy report, due to be presented to councillors on Tuesday and Wednesday, confirms that the SIC will seek to take a proactive response to climate change.

Finer details of how the local authority will tackle the issue are yet not confirmed, but topics like transport, buildings, renewable energy and the oil and gas industry all feature.

Council officers stopped short of joining a host of other local authorities in declaring a climate emergency, despite a Shetland Climate Action petition calling on the council to do just that securing over 500 signatures.

The group – whose petition will be delivered to councillors next week – said it recognised and appreciated the work that the council is undertaking, adding that it is “timely for the whole council to consider this critical issue”.

“While the report notes the context of climate change in general terms, it does not spell out in straightforward terms its full severity, or the extent of its implications for Shetland’s economy, environment and way of life,” it added.

“The continuing traumatic experience in Australia demonstrates just how high the stakes are for communities that are under-prepared. The very necessary step of declaring a climate emergency would enable Shetland as a whole to prepare for the consequences of the climate crisis.

“There are three reasons for this – impact: the evidence that we face a climate emergency is credible and widely shared; its impact will change Shetland. Urgency: the longer we leave the big decisions, the harder it will be to turn things around. Engage: this is an issue for all of Shetland.

“The council has a clear leadership role but all sectors and communities must be part of planning and finding solutions. Declaring a climate emergency would create the impetus for this change in gear and provide a clear signal that Shetland ‘gets’ how serious this is.

“With this in mind, we have asked that the council meeting proposes and agrees an amendment to the report’s recommendations that commits the council to declaring a climate emergency.”