Shetland’s carbon emissions have declined slightly but still remain substantially higher than the Scottish average, according to the latest figures released by the department for energy and climate change (DECC).
In 2008, the average Shetlander produced 13.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide, well above the average of 7.9 tonnes but slightly down on the revised figure of 13.3 tonnes produced per person in 2007.
The study – published by the UK government this week – estimates that 289,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide was emitted in 2008. The tally for Shetland is not skewed by emissions from the oil terminal at Sullom Voe, which are effectively spread throughout the country and beyond because the figures look only at the end use of products like oil and gas.
Industrial and commercial electricity use accounted for 52,000 tonnes, with a further 12,000 tonnes coming from other fuel sources and 17,000 tonnes caused by agricultural combustion.
The figures also show 55,000 tonnes of carbon were caused by domestic electricity use and a further 11,000 tonnes is spewed into the atmosphere by other domestic fuel use. Road transport adds an additional 55,000 tonnes to the tally. The remaining 97,000 tonnes are allocated to land use, changes in land use and forestry.
Carbon Reduction Shetland officer Harriet Bolt said the community still had some distance to travel in reducing emissions. “Although slowly declining, Shetland’s carbon emissions are still far higher than the national average and comparable areas such as Orkney and the Western Isles. This means we’re beginning to tackle our emissions but still have a long way to go.
“Investing in carbon reduction locally can also be good for the wallet as well as the planet. The Home Insulation Scheme will be coming to Shetland this winter. Every household in Shetland will be offered tailored advice on insulation, including information on the grants and financial assistance available. Carbon Reduction Shetland is also on hand to loan energy monitors and issue free low-energy light bulbs.”
SIC chief executive Alistair Buchan said that, while the geography, exposed climate and remoteness of rural living would be partly to blame for the high level of emissions, he hoped the council could play its role in cutting the community’s collective carbon footprint.
He wants the council to be “at the cutting edge” of modernising working practices and wants to spell an end to “people having to travel 30 miles to sit at a desk from 9-5 when it’s not necessary”. That would also enable the council to have a stronger presence in communities throughout the isles.
It is widely accepted that the level of political attention devoted to tackling climate change has declined since the financial crisis began to bite in 2008. But both Mr Buchan and Ms Bolt said the drive to cut fuel and energy costs as part of efforts to reduce expenditure should also contribute to cutting the isles’ carbon emissions.
Ms Bolt added: “Locally and nationally some carbon reduction initiatives have suffered due to lack of funding as the credit crunch hits, but more and more individuals and organisations are realising that reducing emissions can also lead to financial savings.”
• Any organisations or individuals interested in reducing their carbon footprint can contact Harriet Bolt at Shetland Amenity Trust on (01595) 694688. The full statistical analysis for the UK is available at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/climate_change/gg_emissions/uk_emissions/2008_local/2008_local.aspx.