The SIC “does not have the resources to respond to the climate change emergency at the speed people want us to”.
This was the message from ZetTrans lead officer Michael Craigie at a Thursday morning meeting of the transport partnership, and it comes less than a week after more than 100 protesters took to Lerwick’s Market Cross to demand faster action from the council on climate change.
His comments came as part of a discussion on how the council could cut its carbon emissions, with ferries and buses accounting for the bulk of the council’s emissions, and with councillor Davie Sandison admitting that “fuel consumption is a massive issue for us”.
Mr Sandison said that he would like to see the council “choose one specific aim” to target for a start in cutting emissions, such as purchasing one electric bus.
But the cost of green ferries and buses are “far beyond what the council can pick up,” Mr Craigie said.
He agreed that with climate conversations “now front and centre”, the council needed to find a way to “align ourselves” with delivering against that.
Transport policy and projects officer Robina Barton said that it was “really heartening” to hear the council hold discussions about what they could do to tackle the climate change emergency.
“We’re not just paying it lip service.
“We are talking seriously about change.”
ZetTrans chairman Ryan Thomson said that it was an “incredibly tricky subject” – particularly at a time when they were trying to balance additional sailings on inter-island ferries with “the environmental impact that would have”.
But on the subject of purchasing green ferries and buses, Mr Thomson was unequivocal on how they would be funded: “We need government assistance”.
Climate protesters in Lerwick last week demanded that the SIC put in place a plan for tackling carbon emissions and declared a climate emergency, with organiser Elliot Tait saying that the climate emergency “should be higher up” on the council’s agenda.