THIS week's Councillor Column comes from Cllr Richard Trail (SNP, Helensburgh and Lomond South).

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YOU may think that it is business as usual at Argyll and Bute Council, but transformation is under way behind the scenes.

The council has recognised the urgent need to change in the face of the climate emergency. It has plans to reduce its carbon footprint in line with government targets, and work has already started on reducing harmful emissions.

The route to net zero carbon will be long and, at first, it will be slow. The pace of technological change will accelerate as more people buy into the benefits. If the computer industry is any guide, though, the change in the later stages can happen at a dizzyingly fast pace.

Some have opined that we have no need to change in Argyll and Bute, taking the view that we are already at net zero. The wind farms and extensive forests in Argyll are surely sufficient, they say, to balance the carbon emissions coming from the relatively small number of cars on our roads.

But this view rather misses the point that we are not entirely self sufficient. We enjoy the benefits of having goods which have been manufactured outside of Argyll. The notion that it is a problem for someone else to solve is easy, but it does not take us one step closer to becoming genuinely net zero.

READ MORE: 'We're being as ambitious as we can be' in tackling climate crisis, claims councillor

We must all take ownership of this crisis, and we must deal with it as if our lives depended on it.

A debate on TV at the start of COP26 revealed that there is still a reluctance to accept ownership of the challenge we face.

Members of the audience at that debate who put questions to the panel were quick to point the finger of blame at others – to the oil and gas companies, and to the wealthy. A statistic was trotted out that the wealthy 1 per cent of the population accounted for 50 per cent of all carbon emissions.

The COP26 conference has attracted a wide range of protestors in a bid to pressure politicians to take action.

Greta Thunberg is the most prominent individual campaigner and in my view she does a great job in enthusing the young and drawing attention to the urgency of the crisis.

While she loudly derided the politicians for their “blah, blah” approach, I hope she has the sense to understand that democracies work by engaging in debate and working collaboratively. It is only the dictators of this world who can dispense with the “blah, blah”.

While the Argyll and Bute Council plans to reach net zero may seem small in comparison with the overall scale of the problem facing our planet, it is only by mobilising all the people of the world to do their bit that we will address the goal of having a world that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can enjoy as we have enjoyed it.

READ MORE: Opinion - 'COP26 simply has to succeed for all our futures'