Climate / Challenges ahead on the path to sustainable travel

Climate Action Shetland hopes for climate conversations across the isles

Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND is facing “significant issues” in developing strategies to decarbonise its internal and external transport links, according to the local authority’s chairman of its environment and transport committee.

Councillor Ryan Thomson was reacting to an investigation by Shetland News last week which revealed the high carbon cost of travelling between the isles and the Scottish mainland.

Meanwhile, campaign group Shetland Climate Action is calling for a Shetland-wide conversation about low carbon lifestyle and the impact of individual choice.

Inter-island travel is equally carbon intensive with the internal ferry network amounting to around half of the council’s own carbon footprint.

Chair of the SIC’s transport and environment committee, councillor Ryan Thomson. Photo: Shetland News

Thomson said: ”These findings highlight the significant issues we face both as a local authority and a transport partnership in focusing on the climate agenda and developing a path to more sustainable travel options both within Shetland and to/from Shetland as well as improving the performance of our existing transport services and infrastructure.


“A collaborative approach between local and national government, and the companies and organisations which serve Shetland is essential if we are to achieve the national net zero targets.”

The SIC has just published a short paper titled Key Carbon Reduction Actions which lists a number of decarbonising targets including renewing all internal ferries with zero-carbon vessels, or becoming zero-carbon capable within 10 years, and /or replacing internal ferry routes with fixed links.

The ageing internal ferry fleet is responsible for half the council’s carbon footprint, which sits at an estimated 22,000 tonnes in total in 2020/21.

Scottish Greens MSP for the Highlands and Islands John Finnie. Photo: Shetland News

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Green Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie called on the Scottish Government to put its money where its mouth is and invest in carbon reducing technologies.

Finnie said: “As a maritime nation, with a skilled shipbuilding workforce, there is a tremendous opportunity to ensure a pipeline of a modern, efficient fleet.

“I call on the cabinet secretary to reinvigorate the ferry replacement plan, which should including the Shetland and Orkney internal ferries, thereby improving connectivity, reducing the impact on our environment and creating and retaining valuable jobs.”

His call was echoed by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur who again highlighted the urgent need for procurement of replacement vessels for Orkney’s internal ferry services.

On Wednesday, islands minister Paul Wheelhouse said the government’s immediate focus was on developing the vessel replacement and deployment plan in the Clyde and Hebrides and supporting the workforce at Inverclyde.


Responding to the Shetland News investigation, a spokeswoman for Shetland Climate Action said individuals were equally responsible for adapting to a low carbon lifestyle.

Isa Kristiansen-Bragg said: “There’s been much talk about the role of local and national government in reducing their contribution to the climate crisis but we, as individuals, also hold power – around 40 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the choices we make as individuals.

“Adopting a low carbon lifestyle is only possible when an individual can access simple information to compare the environmental impact of whatever is on the table.

“Every choice a consumer makes will have an impact on our planet. The more information available, the more informed choices we can make.

“We welcome this new debate on the environmental impact of reaching the mainland and hope this sparks conversations across Shetland.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.