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Climate / One target is gone, but the duty to achieve net zero remains

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) chief executive Maggie Sandison says the Scottish Government ditching the country’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 will make no difference to the way the local authority is going about cutting its own carbon footprint.

She said the SIC continues to have the “statutory duty” to achieve net zero, and that remains unchanged, with the 2030 target described as nothing more than an indicator to measure progress.

Ditching the net zero target two weeks ago triggered a political earthquake at Holyrood which led to the collapse of the Bute House agreement and ultimately led the resignation of first minister Humza Yousaf on Monday.

SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

“Our commitment to delivering our statutory duty of achieving Net Zero is unchanged – the 2030 target essentially was only ever an indicator of whether we were on track (or not),” Sandison said.

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“So, whilst the target has changed, the duty is still there,” the SIC chief executive said, and it “doesn’t change any target or policies around net zero”.

“We are not being held to account for not achieving it [the target], but [what] we have to do on an annual basis because it is part of the wider scope audit of the council, is demonstrate that we are delivering on our net zero duties,” she added.

Sandison said the local authority is required to work towards achieving all sorts of targets, such as reducing child poverty and fuel poverty, with many of these unachievable in the context of the limited powers of local authorities.

And most of these targets, as was the case with net zero, are uncosted and unfunded, she said.

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