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News that the Highland Council is launching a new carbon reduction programme for staff as part of its commitment to tackle the climate emergency has provoked a backlash from environmental campaigners.
The local authority’s Climate Change Team has created ‘a fun and interactive way’ for departments and teams to improve their health and well-being, connect with other staff across the organisation and make positive changes to the workplace and their environment.
The programme is called ‘Green Impact’ and staff can join through an online toolkit.
However, a spokesperson for local Extinction Rebellion activists told the Lochaber Times: ‘Highland Council declared a climate and ecological emergency nearly two years ago, but they continue to invest millions in fossil fuel stocks through their pension fund, while promoting ‘fun and interactive’ activities to mitigate what is widely accepted – except seemingly by Highland Council – to be the sixth mass extinction event in the history of our planet.
‘The causes of the climate and ecological crises are rooted in nearly three centuries of relentless exploitation of natural resources and equally relentless generation of pollution and greenhouse gasses, not in a shortage of sustainable lunches or biodiversity walks.
‘Sorry Highland Council, but it is time to wake up. This really is an emergency.’
The Highland Council said the pension fund is independent from the council and decisions regarding investment principles are made by the Pensions Committee, membership of which includes but is not exclusive to Highland Council councillors.
‘The decision making process for the Pensions Committee is scrutinised by the Pensions Board whose membership includes employer organisation and member representatives,’ said a spokesperson.
Extinction Rebellion campaigners gathered outside Highland Council headquarters in 2019.
NO F20 Extinction Rebellion Inverness protest