Climate / Call to find a green way out of the Covid-19 crisis

Climate campaigner Sorley Johnston with some of the bruck he has collected from a beach near Sandness during lockdown.

A GROUP of local climate campaigners is calling on policy makers to ensure that any economic recovery programme following the Covid-19 crisis is green and, where possible, has a net-zero environmental impact.

Around ten campaigners from Shetland and from Orkney set up a Zoom meeting with Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael earlier this week as part of a day of ‘virtual mass lobbying’.

They discussed a number of topics which Carmichael said he was keen to take to parliament in London including a proposal to incorporate a net-zero stipulation into all new government procurement contracts.

Speaking to Shetland News, Sorley Johnston, from Sandness, said the MP was broadly sharing campaigners’ views and had already shown concern over food production, plastic pollution and the impact of climate change more generally.

“The green recovery is an opportunity because there is a large amount of money to be spent and we got a chance to influence how that is being spent,” he said.


Carmichael said: “There were some good and new ideas there such as climate proofing of public procurement contracts. This is something substantial we work on.”

He said there were two important occasions coming up where this idea could make an impact; firstly the environmental bill that is going through the House of Commons, and secondly the COP climate change conference that was due to be held in Glasgow in November but has now been postponed until 2021.

The MP continued: “I now need to speak to other MPs in other parties and see how we can make this work because it requires support from all the opposition parties and some Conservatives to persuade the government that this is something they should be doing.”

The Climate Coalition wants government in Westminster, Holyrood and the Town Hall to put people, climate and nature at the heart of the UK’s recovery from coronavirus, Johnston continued.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“With regards to climate, the sooner we act, the cheaper and better the result is going to be; the longer we wait the more difficult it will become to make a difference,” he said.

“We have seen from Covid what people are capable of in terms of cooperation but also in terms of government finding money.

“Green recovery makes sense; you can create jobs but you can also be reducing carbon emissions. So this is a crux moment and I fear it will slip away if we start building roads and have the traditional way out of economic downturn.”

Johnston added: “It has become commonplace to say that we can’t return to ‘normal’ as the lockdown is eased. The last few months have given us a taste of the pain and disruption caused by an unexpected crisis.


“The climate emergency is not unexpected. We have known about it for years. It is vital that the time is now to move beyond words to learn from our mistakes, to actually do things differently, and to build back better.”

The Climate Coalition brings together 58 national organisations and charities. The group’s green recovery plan can be found here.

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.