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Climate / Individual responsibility a key focus at latest climate strike

Shetland Islands Council also hosts event aimed at sparking conversation on climate change

Eco Youth Shetland organisers at the Town Hall on Friday. From left to right: Isla Johnson, Laura Bisset, Celestine Verdcourt-Lawrence. Photos: Chris Cope/Shetland News

SHETLAND’s third climate strike took place in Lerwick on Friday as campaigners came together on Valentine’s Day to ‘Show The Love’.

The strike – organised by the Eco Youth Shetland group – was, somewhat ironically, moved to Lerwick Town Hall from its original location at the Market Cross due to the rowdy weather.

The event came after Shetland Islands Council (SIC) said in January that it recognised the global climate emergency amid pressure from the community to take a stance on the issue.

Friday’s event was part of the wider Show the Love climate campaign, which is backed by over 140 organisations including Oxfam, the National Trust and RSPB.

The first local strike, also led by Eco Youth Shetland, was held in June and it saw a stream of pupils walk from the Anderson High School to the Town Hall where the council held a Q&A session.

A second, wider event was held at the Market Cross in September as people joined in a global call for more action on the “climate catastrophe”.

The SIC also in January brought its first report on climate change to councillors, with the local authority vowing to be more pro-active on the issue.

Friday’s climate strike, which at 1pm had around 20 people in attendance, encouraged people’s minds away from the council and directed it more on individual responsibility.

Explaining about what was on offer at the town hall, Eco Youth Shetland’s Isla Johnson said: “We’ve got a table about fast fashion, and about cutting down on your carbon emissions through your fashion. Although things are cheap, they come at a high cost to the earth.

“And there’s a recycle race – helping people identify what can be recycled with the council currently and what can’t.”

Johnson said the event was about “focusing on individual choices and creating your life to be more sustainable, while also at the same time gathering as a community.”

It attracted schoolchildren from the Aith and Sandwick secondary schools, as well as the Anderson High School.

Celestine Verdcourt-Lawrence, who along with Laura Bisset complete the trio of Eco Youth Shetland organisers, said the national Show The Love campaign had been running for a number of years.

“Every February people get together and have lots of events to show their love for the environment,” she said. “It can be a range of events – our event is our climate strike.”

The next steps for Shetland, the group thinks, is to continue to focus on what individual people can do to make their lives that little bit greener.

Shetland Islands Council’s event at Islesburgh to stimulate conversation on climate change.

“The council have taken some big steps – now we understand it’s not just the council that has to do things,” Johnson said.

“Individuals have a responsibility too, whether that is trying to take the bus more or car-share to work, or simple things like changing your plastic toothbrush to bamboo.”

The strike at the Town Hall coincided with a Shetland Islands Council event at Islesburgh Community Centre aimed at stimulating conversation about climate change topics.

The event – which runs from 12pm to 4pm – allows people to speak to staff in areas such as energy efficiency, transport, zero waste, green energy, just transition and marine and tidal issues.

The Eco Youth Shetland campaigners headed over to the event after their stint at the Town Hall was up.