Views

“Many of the powers to drive action on the climate crisis sit with local councils” #OICelection

“On top of the vital day-to-day services they control, councillors can take significant action to tackle the climate crisis. The councillors elected across Scotland in May will be in their position for for five of the eight years left in this vital decade for urgent and transformative action to avert climate breakdown”

– that’s the view of Friends of the Earth Scotland in their recently published manifesto for the council elections.

On Thursday May 5th Orkney will elect the councillors who will be taking the decisions affecting how we in the islands respond to the climate emergency we are in.

The UK Government has published its energy strategy which will see new developments in fossil fuel production including the building of nuclear power plants. ‘Bold Plans’ or ‘Unbelievably Reckless’ ? The UK’s New Energy Strategy

The latest IPCC report has stark warnings about life on Earth should politicians not start taking the climate emergency seriously and adds to the growing international concern from scientists about our planet including the loss of biodiversity, severe weather, and an increase in pandemics. Dire Warning About the Consequences of Inaction on Climate Change

Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“Deep emissions cuts are needed now, and the message at the heart of this latest study is that we must say no to all new oil and gas, put an end to fossil fuel subsidies and urgently start delivering a just transition for impacted communities.

“In assuming varying degrees of overshooting the critical 1.5°C threshold, the pathways set out in this report are simply untenable and show the political battles that are being fought around how to act on the science.”

Orkney Islands Council has power over many services, including their own financial investments, which could help limit the onward thrust of climate change. The manifesto from Friends of the Earth Scotland covers:

  • A just transition
  • Divestment
  • Economy
  • Energy
  • Planning
  • Transport

These are all aspects of island life that OIC can make the significant changes to.

Launching their manifesto Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

The councillors elected across Scotland in May will be in their position for five years in what is a vital decade for action to avert climate breakdown. The UN climate conference in Glasgow was a key moment for international action, but the powers held by Councils makes them pivotal when it comes to tackling Scotland’s emissions and building on the legacy of COP26.

Transport is the primary source of carbon emissions in Scotland, making up around a third of the total. While progress has been made in other areas, this has barely changed in the last three decades. Councils have the power to set up publicly-owned bus companies which could make a significant difference here. They also receive funding, which will be increasing in the coming years as part of the SNP and Greens agreement, for cycling and walking, which some councils currently make use of more than others.

Scotland is now burning almost as much of its household waste as it is sending to landfill, while household recycling rates have fallen by 2.9% to 42.0% between 2019 and 2020. This means Scotland now has the poorest recycling rates in the UK. Councils are in charge of designing and providing waste collection systems for households and therefore have a key role to play in reducing the carbon impact of household waste.

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“These elections are being contested against the backdrop of a climate and nature emergency. Many of the powers to drive action on the climate crisis sit with local councils, which is why this vote matters so much.

“Councillors must put people and the planet at the heart of all of the decisions they make. This means making it easier and more affordable to take public transport by running services in the interests of passengers rather than shareholders, helping people to reduce and recycle their waste, and planning for the vital phase out of incineration.

“Over the coming weeks, people can get in touch with candidates to hear what they have to say on these climate-critical issues and build pressure for ambition and urgency at the local level during the next five years.”

Here are the candidates standing in Orkney:

Click on this link to download a copy of the Friends of the Earth manifesto:

Local fuel poverty charity THAW Orkney have also published their manifesto for candidates:

And the Orkney Greens also have a manifesto on their priorities for OIC:

Orkney Eco Park, Hatston, Kirkwall

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