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Climate / Irreversible climate change to affect all, including Shetland

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

EXTREME weather events such as heatwaves, torrential rain and droughts are set to become regular occurrences across Scotland, including Shetland, as global warning will continue to increase, a long-awaited report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned.

Ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November this year, scientists have warned that global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during this century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.

Many industrial countries have issued new and more ambitious targets in cutting emissions but converting these targets into reality often proves difficult.

The UK has now committed to slash greenhouse gases by 68 per cent by 2030, measured against emissions in 1990.

Meanwhile, Shetland has the highest carbon footprint of any local authority in the UK, mainly due to poorly insulated homes, and a reliance on fossil fuels in transport and industry as well as the production of electricity.

Efforts are underway to find ways of decarbonise the oil industry, including using wind energy to power existing and new oil installations on land and in the sea.

Nationally, however, a campaign to stop the UK Government granting a licence to develop the Cambo oil field to the West of Shetland is gaining momentum.

Scientists warn that many consequences of climate change are already irreversible for centuries to millennia, and that the frequency and intensity of extremes, such as the severity of wet and dry events, will only become worse.

A recent report by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency identifies a number of areas in Shetland particularly vulnerable to flooding, including Vidlin, Walls, Lerwick, Scalloway and an area of Cunningsburgh.

SEPA estimates that currently there are 210 people and 230 homes and businesses in Shetland at risk from flooding, likely to increase to 300 people and 300 homes by 2080.

The annual cost of flooding is currently estimated to be in the region of £650,000, SEPA said.

Meanwhile, in a recent study carried out for NatureScot Shetland was identified as one area in Scotland likely to be affected by extreme drought caused by climate change.

Shetland’s carbon emissions amount to 650,000 tonnes per year. Image: ORION Clean Energy project