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.


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • January 21st, 2020 18:36

    It should be remembered that the Scottish government’s “net zero 2045” target represents aggregate emissions for the whole country. It is not a starting gun for councils to chariot-race each other to “net zero”.

    The whole project needs to be assessed centrally to establish priorities for effective, economic action.

    There is no need for areas with particular difficulties e.g. Grangemouth, Shetland, to reach “net zero” emissions at all, far less, to beat the Scottish government’s target date by fifteen years.

    The isles form part of the Highlands and Islands, which have almost certainly already achieved net zero, because of the low population and colossal installations of onshore and offshore renewable energy.

    That doesn’t mean the isles should do nothing, it means they should look at it in the context of the whole, and what represents value for public money.

    The “net zero 2030” target proposed by infrastructure director Smith can only be achieved if the Viking Energy wind farm and its associated subsea cable link are installed.

    The council has no power to deliver that, rendering the “net zero 2030” an unrealistic target which the council would be extremely foolish to adopt.

  • Julie Mackie

    • January 22nd, 2020 0:36

    God help us all if these windfarm supporters are called upon to look at climate change. Planting trees??? They are planting turbines – great carbon savers those!

  • Haydn Gear

    • January 22nd, 2020 15:15

    I presume that wind farms using a free and natural resource (the wind) will produce much needed electricity thus saving the need to burn fossil fuels in power stations.
    If one is that way inclined, it might be argued that God really will be helping us.
    Wind power , tidal forces , 🌞 sunshine —- I’m all in favour of them. Who can REASONABLY be against ?

  • Mr ian Tinkler

    • January 22nd, 2020 19:42

    “Wind power , tidal forces , 🌞 sunshine —- I’m all in favour of them. Who can REASONABLY be against ? “. No one with an ounce of scientific intellect. They are all the result of nuclear energy.
    Sadly our climate change XR ignorants and Green Simpletons have a problem with simple science, just to ignorant to know, understand and think beyond the Greta. Pure ignorance is such bliss.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • January 23rd, 2020 11:29

    Simple Science!! At the source, every type of potential energy is free. Fossil fuels are free to pick up/pump-out or transport. Just as solar, hydro, geothermal or wind, what costs are their conversion into usable energy for humankind, electrical, heat or chemical. They all have a price, be that financial or in environmental pollution and damage.
    The simple fact is human beings need the energy to survive, food, heating, transport nearly every aspect of humankind is dependant on power for survival, especially so on a massively overpopulated planet.
    How can one take the prophets of doom seriously, be that Greta, David Attenborough, the Greens or XR when the one most apparent factor in our pollution of the planet, is overpopulation. The number of peoples expands exponentially.
    We should be talking about birth control, not windmills and associated nonsense, sadly very few will do that. It is not politically correct so to do!!!
    How can one take the climate doom merchants seriously? Just ostriches with there heads where the sun never shines!!!!


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