Despite the health warning that accompanies aspects of the figures we publish today from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, we should not dismiss them out of hand. If Shetland’s carbon footprint is over-stated we need to understand in what respect(s) and try to gain a more accurate picture of the scale of local carbon dioxide emissions.
Our contribution to global warming may be miniscule, but the logic of our refusing to change our ways because it “won’t matter” is that others who emit more damaging quantities of carbon dioxide will be entitled to share that wantonly destructive attitude. All of us on the planet, whether at the individual level here in Shetland or as a colossal nation like China, have a moral duty to our children and grand-children, if not to ourselves, to live in a less environmentally-damaging fashion. Are our houses properly insulated? Do we need to drive around in thirsty 4x4s? Oughtn’t we to have walked the 500 yards to school or to visit someone?
The appointment by Shetland Amenity Trust of Harriet Bolt as carbon reduction officer and the introduction of Powerdown officers in Unst and elsewhere are positive steps in this direction; but more work is required.
The SIC could start by commissioning a major comparative study into carbon dioxide emissions in Shetland. Then, perhaps, councillors might look at spending £500,000-a-year on saving energy than wasting it by handing out fuel grants to people who don’t need them.