New term, new Minister, same challenges

Haf Elgar calls for the Welsh Government to publish their twice delayed policy refresh on tackling climate change.

This week we start a new Assembly term with a reshuffled Welsh Government team, with Carl Sargeant taking on responsibility for climate change, on the eve of a UN summit challenging world leaders to cut climate emissions and tackle climate change.  The first time in five years global leaders have met to discuss this issue.

There is a strong cross-party commitment in Wales to tackle climate change and for Wales to play its role by cutting our carbon emissions. Wales led the way in introducing an annual carbon emission reduction target of 3% in the One Wales programme for government and followed it a few years later with a cross party commitment to cut all our emissions 40% by 2020. And there has been action from the Welsh Government, such as the Arbed home energy efficiency programme and statutory recycling targets.

But, as the recent Assembly Research paper shows, emissions in Wales as a whole went up 5% in the last year we have records for (2011-2012), and emissions for the things we use and consume – which the 3% annual cuts relate to – only reduced by 2%.

If we continue like this we’ll break the promise to cut our emissions and lose our reputation for leading the way on green issues.

This is despite the most rigorous scientific evidence, produced by the IPCC earlier this year, confirming unequivocally not only the science of climate change but the urgency and scale of action necessary to keep us within a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius and mitigate against some of the worst impacts of climate change.

We’re badly in need of a revived and re-energised approach to climate change in Wales – a recommitment to the targets unanimously agreed by the Assembly, and a definite action plan for how to achieve it, including assessing the carbon impact of major strategies, projects and the annual budget.   We have previously set out the case here for these measures, and for climate targets to be put into law in Wales.  The Well-Being of Future Generations Bill provides an ideal opportunity.

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the 21st century and we must take immediate action to tackle this. Otherwise we face environmental, economic, cultural and social impacts which will affect future generations, and disproportional impact people in poverty within Wales and across the globe.

Yet despite the seriousness, twice in three months the Welsh Government has postponed its promised policy refresh.

This could be a real positive for Wales, not just environmentally but for tackling poverty and developing a low carbon economy, as the new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate shows.

In a survey of public perceptions of climate change in Wales published by the Climate Change Consortium of Wales last year, 84% of respondents were concerned about climate change, 73% of respondents agreed that Wales should aim to set an example to the outside world when it comes to addressing climate change, 80% were concerned about the effects of climate change in developing countries and 90% were concerned about the effects on wildlife and the natural world.

And tackling climate change is vital to ensuring the well-being of present and future generations. The report prepared as a result of the National Conversation ‘The Wales We Want’ earlier this year identified climate change as being the most critical issue for the well-being of future generations.

Last week a wide range of influential Welsh organisations signed Stop Climate Chaos Cymru’s open letter to the Welsh Government, calling for leadership and firm action to tackle climate change for the love of all the things we care about and will be affected by climate change – our family, our coastline or even a cup of coffee.  Many of those organisations will be representing Wales at the London Climate March this Sunday.

We have high hopes that the new Minister can grasp the work started by his predecessors and deliver a plan of action. It’s vital there isn’t further delay.

Haf Elgar is the Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Cymru.

4 thoughts on “New term, new Minister, same challenges

  1. I agree the WAG should close immediately the following a)Port Talbot Steel Works. As I pass on the M4 its an affront to my sight of the sea. Never mind the 7-10000 people who work there.!!! b) All petro/chemical plants as I don’t want to travel by car any more. Meanwhile the USA through fracking of oil/gas is powering ahead and soon to dwarf Germany in terms of industrial competiveness. BONKERS..

  2. I take your point about the need to work towards agreed targets, but I don’t see a simple solution regarding emissions. I can imagine your views being popular in Port Talbot where Tata recently announced further investment plans – perhaps you don’t remember just how unpleasant it used to be passing through the area, whether by car or train?

    If you have been tracking the situation with the National Grid working to ‘keep the lights on’ this winter, there is the prospect of having to bring back into operation less efficient (i.e more polluting) power stations across the UK. In Wales, there has been some debate as to what mix of fuel East Aberthaw was running as it wavered either side of emissions limits. Whatever your views on nuclear, the new stations won’t be ready before the early 2020s. And the UK government cut subsidies on solar farms. All in all, with the debate over just how effective OfGem is as a regulator, one wonders just how the UK gets from where we are to where Germany is in renewable terms.

    Whilst meeting – or exceeding – the targets is a laudable aspiration, there are so many factors to take into account – there is good news in the LNG supply chain – but the UK won’t be alone in its demands for greater use – and there have been stories about LNG ships apparently bound for the UK being diverted elsewhere. The situtation in the Middle East won’t simplify any work that takes place and I have yet to figure out where I stand on fracking. And I have read just this week about China committing to reducing their emissions but then see reports of fish dying in their rivers.

    One thing that the world’s developed countries will have to take on sooner or later is what we’re going to do about moving away from the current state of depending on fossil fuels.

  3. I too would like to see the WAG’s futile attempt to justify pretending to be more powerful than the sun, moon, and stars now that even the back-pedaling IPCC admit there has been no statistically significant global warming/climate change/climate chaos for 15 years! Best they can come up with is 0.06 degrees which is way under the errors involved in instrumentation and that’s before a whole bunch of temperature anomalies have been artificially adjusted upwards by the usual suspects! So really we will have a slight cooling trend which is what you’d expect after a couple of weak solar cycles.

    Will the WAG’s work of fiction include an estimate of the cost per household of their insane policies?

    Will the WAG’s work of fiction include an estimate for the number of avoidable deaths arising from their insane policies?

    Since hardly anybody believes these red-green snouts in the trough any more, does anybody have any thoughts on the next money making scheme they’re going to try and float past us? We’ve had global warming – but it’s not warming… We’ve had climate change – but the climate has been changing since Day-1 so that’s really not very clever… Now we’ve got climate chaos but there’s no empirical evidence the weather, of weather is not climate fame, is any more extreme than in the past nor is there any evidence of dramatic sea-level changes… So that’s 3 fails in a row! What’s the next red-green money-making scam folks?

  4. For clarification, carbon emitters under the EU trading scheme are not ‘devolved’ in the 3% target, hence the closing of Tata or otherwise is irrelevant to that part of the debate.


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