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Letters / SIC should declare fuel poverty emergency

It isn’t the SIC’s job to save the Maldives from sinking beneath the waves. They opened five new airports in 2019 to boost their long-haul tourism industry.

Nor is it the SIC’s job to save Australia, with its vast coal mining and oil and gas industries, from bushfires.

That is not even the job of the Scottish or UK governments.

National and local governments exist to look after their own citizens, including, where appropriate, participating in international agreements e.g. via the United Nations (UN), on regional or global issues.

Surprising then to see SIC officials’ time used to produce an independent initiative on climate change (Council prepares for week of climate decisions; SN, 16 January 2020). Coincidentally, Shetland Climate Action group has simultaneously presented a 500-signature petition calling on councillors to “declare a climate emergency.”

What is the public to make of this?

First, that lurid catchphrase, “the climate emergency” is not used by the UN’s expert body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It is a PR device concocted by “far-green” extremists like Heathrow drone terrorists Extinction Rebellion, deliberately to raise alarm for political propaganda purposes.

Second, the IPCC’s 2018 Special Report called for net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The British government, unilaterally, put that target into law, last summer and the Scottish government, in its ‘one-upping’ way, topped even that with its “net zero 2045” law.

We lead the world, at a cost of over £1 trillion (£1,000,000,000,000), enough to fund the salaries of 314,000 nurses for 100 years!

These legally-binding targets will be rolled down to councils who must comply by addressing relevant issues in their own areas of responsibility.

It follows that further action like the egregious “net zero 2030” target proposed in SIC infrastructure director Smith’s report is ‘over the top’ and would involve colossal, additional expense, while making no discernible difference to climate change.

Third, the IPCC recommends progress by international agreement and has condemned unilateral action as counterproductive: 

  1. “Climate change has the characteristics of a collective action problem at the global scale”,
  2. “Effective mitigation will not be achieved if individual agents advance their own interests independently.”

(IPCC 2014 Report (AR5), Summary for Policymakers, Paragraph SPM 3.1.)

It follows that independent action by “individual agents” – be they the British government, the SIC or unscientific amateurs like Shetland Climate Action – is unhelpful to international efforts to curtail emissions.

Surely, it would be more fitting for the SIC to declare instead a “fuel poverty emergency”, on behalf of the 53 percent of Shetland homes they say are suffering fuel poverty, arising from the soaring cost of energy due to green taxes and renewable energy subsidies?

That would be a sensible use of its ever-shrinking financial resources, boosting the Shetland Partnership’s stated aim of halving fuel poverty by 2028.

John Tulloch