New perspective needed for council to combat climate change
The council is going to have to start looking at things differently if it is to tackle climate change, according to one official.
The SIC’s climate change strategic outline programme was discussed at a lengthy environment and transport committee meeting on Tuesday, with director of infrastructure services John Smith introducing the report.
“All this needs to be considered with a different pair of specs on,” Mr Smith said.
Implications and considerations of climate change would have to be factored in to the council’s plans, processes and activities, according to Mr Smith.
He commended the fact that other reports brought before the committee earlier in the day had factored in climate change considerations.
The “important” strategic document, which committee chairman Ryan Thomson also labelled “very in depth”, lays out a set of ways the council can combat climate change.
The programme provides an overview of the council’s strategy to “address, adapt to, and mitigate, climate change” in Shetland and describes the climate as a “fundamental determinant of all aspects of wellbeing all across the world”.
As a public body the council is also bound by climate change targets set by Westminster and Holyrood.
Councillors Stephen Leask and Robbie McGregor were in agreement that climate change targets should not come with penalties, in particular for Shetland and other remote communities, Mr McGregor added.
Concerns were also raised at the meeting about how to ensure that any transition regarding energy could be made without losing jobs or damaging Shetland’s economy.
Mr Smith also made reference to Shetland’s location.
“Geography does not change”, he said, citing the isles’ reliance on lifeline services to get on and off Shetland, inter-island services and high energy expenses.
North Isles councillor Alec Priest questioned whether funding to plant more trees in Shetland could be tapped into as a form of carbon capture.
Mr Smith responded that work was mainly focused on peat restoration, but opportunities were there for the council to work in conjunction with landowners on these kind of carbon offset projects.
The report was considered and endorsed by members at the meeting. It was also being discussed at the policy resources committee meeting on Tuesday before being brought to the full council on Wednesday.
Shetland Climate Action had also called on the council to declare a climate emergency.
The environmental group will be on hand at the full council meeting on Wednesday to hand over a petition signed by over 500 people.