A climate emergency has been declared across the UK, with politicians scrambling over themselves to announce bold statements on climate change and the way forward.
Recently Nicola Sturgeon announced: “As First Minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency. And Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle it.”
At Westminster Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn initiated a motion to Parliament, which was passed without a vote, which also declared a climate emergency.
CLIMATE CHANGE STRIKE
This heightened sense of urgency was highlighted in the Outer Hebrides when our inspiring children went on a climate strike across the Islands, joining hundreds of thousands across the planet. They do not believe that statements and motions do enough - they want action - with changes to the law required.
And that first step towards practical action came on June 27th when the UK became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law.
This law means that by 2050 our entire country must balance all emissions with mechanisms to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere – or never produce them in the first place.
This is important for all island communities.
Some readers will remember HM The Queen’s Coronation. Famously Queen Sālote Tupou III of Tonga drove through London in an open carriage throughout the pouring rain, gaining much affection from the public.
SEA LEVEL THREAT
Tonga is now threatened by a bigger threat from water - rising sea levels – and in our own Queen’s reign climate change is impacting islands across the world dramatically.
Sir David Attenborough, a friend of our monarch, recently said: “In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined.
“It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.”
It is rising sea levels and changes to farming because of dramatic weather patterns, which should concentrate our minds in the Outer Hebrides.
The Uists are threatened with being under water. An excellent art project based at Taigh Chearsabhagh museum and arts centre in Lochmaddy, demonstrates with LED lights, a line across buildings marking the rise of sea levels.
This shocking image sets out clearly what climate change means for people in local communities.
Crofting is already under threat. We know that dramatic weather changes impact the amount of feed we have to buy for animals. The fishing industry is also impacted as rising sea levels change the behaviour of fish, resulting in changes to catches.
It’s a call to arms for all of us. So what does a net zero economy mean for us and what can we do about it? It ultimately means every aspect of how we live will have to adapt. We will do this in ways which will make us think, change our behaviour, but ultimately live cleaner, healthier and more sustainable lives.
Tighean Innse Gall and the Stornoway Gazette have teamed up to create a regular column to explore these issues and set out some actions local folk can take to do their part in combating climate change.