A time for delivery on climate change

Jessica McQuade explains how Wales can play its part in tackling global climate change at COP21.

Climate change has consequences for all spheres of existence on our planet. It either impacts on – or is impacted by – global issues and environmental degradation. It threatens the species, places and communities that matter most to us.

We must address climate change if we are to ensure the livelihoods of people and the survival of species all over the world. At the very heart of the response to climate change lays the need to reduce emissions.

The UN climate negotiations starting in a week’s time will be a key milestone in the climate change struggle, representing the most important global moment for progress on climate action since COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. The climate movement must capture this window of opportunity.

WWF wants the outcome of COP21 to be a fair, ambitious and transformational international agreement that lays the foundation for increasing ambition over time.

But what does this mean to Wales? How does Wales, a very small country, play its part in a very big global problem?

Over the last 5 years Wales has made continuous statements on the importance of tackling climate change and the need for us to play our part in the global challenge.  The outcome of COP21 is therefore important as we want the world to be best-placed prevent the devastating impact on people and planet of the temperature rising more than 2°c above pre-industrial levels.

The Welsh Government’s most important role in run-up to and after COP21 is to demonstrate how we are standing alongside other countries in the world committing to serious, fast and fair emission reduction. Our policy commitment to 40% reduction by 2020 demonstrates that and is important to maintain, particularly within the Environment Bill currently going through National Assembly scrutiny.

The Welsh Government is part of a regional government collective nrg4SD which provides a platform for sub-state governments to showcase their activity and have a collective voice at COP21. Wales is not influential as a devolved nation in UK government negotiations but we can shout loudly to everyone who wants to listen about we are doing alongside Scotland and other progressive, regional governments and try get everyone to do the same.

Of course this all means nothing unless we actually deliver against the rhetoric. The development of the Welsh Government’s sustainable development governance framework should really help.

With the Well-being of Future Generations Act’s requirement for sustainable development to be our primary organising principle, we should be able to go a long way to putting emission reduction in the mix of decision-making.  This should mean, for example, the next government’s infrastructure plan should have low-carbon developments as the main bulk of capital spend – more spending on public transport and energy efficiency of homes should follow.

The Environment Bill provides the level of detail under the Well-being of Future Generations Act to help ensure reducing emissions is given momentum. This Bill brings Wales up to speed with the UK and Scotland’s legal frameworks. It introduces statutory climate change targets for Wales, a requirement to produce a plan for how to meet these targets and report on progress. WWF Cymru is calling for improvements to the Bill to bring it up to the standard, if not more progressive in parts, than the Scottish or UK climates acts. A statutory commitment to preserve their policy commitment of reduction of 40% by 2020 is one of these asks. This will allow Wales to stand alongside them at COP21 as forerunners in climate governance and demonstrate we are serious about taking meaning action

The big challenge for the Welsh Government will be delivery within this strong framework. The next Programme for Government needs to have substantive emission abatement programmes and a shift away from over reliance on UK Government energy polices dictating progress. Energy production in Wales has a big effect on our emissions, which the Welsh Government currently has limited control over, but there are many activities the Welsh Government needs to do to mitigate this. We can no longer continue to wait until full devolved energy powers. We need a more proactive strategy.

For example, WWF Cymru is calling for a large scale-up of Welsh Government energy efficiency programmes. Our research by the Energy Savings Trust showed Arbed and Nest accounted for only 8% of overall emission reduction in the residential sector. The Welsh Government can take control and make a commitment to substantial programmes in energy efficiency which will drive emissions in Wales down. (You can find out more by reading my blog on our research).

As we approach COP21, there is a lot of international talk about the ‘ambition gap’ and the need to identify concrete steps to close it. Along with other countries, there is a real danger that the Welsh Government falls into this. Despite the great framework we are creating in Wales, which we should celebrate and share, we also need to come back and deliver. It is what’s being termed as ‘beyond Paris’.

The Welsh Government need to makes sure that ‘beyond Paris’, Wales, along with the rest of the world, creates a better planet for future generations.

Jessica McQuade is Policy and Advocacy Officer at WWF Cymru.

6 thoughts on “A time for delivery on climate change

  1. As a committed environmentalist. Who has during the course of my career closed down over 40 incinerators in Wales and set up the first recycling in Cardiff achieving 25% recycling without wheelie bins which are just a dustbin on wheels and not a recycling system. I am still committed to reducing the pollution and environmental impact. Unfortunately the wag and eu policies which include incineration and wheelie bins are going in the opposite direction. Indeed i claim very clearly that recycling will now start dipping to new lows. And pollution in Wales will continue to rise. Wales is already the highest polluter in the uk. Especially along the M4 corridor. Incineration howeve much they try to dress it up destroys valuable assets and increase pollution. The health of the nation is also very badly affected by it which in turn will increase the billto the nhs and lose more work days throug sickness. In general citizens are getting frankly fed up with the plethora of wheelie bins and boxes which in themselves contribute around 2,000 tons pa of pollution with the emptying of them. At the same time new technology is being utterly ignored with the Wag blythly signing up for long term fixed deals with incinerators which prevents better systems taking over. I liken it to an old king and his army off to war with bows and arrows and swords, ignoring his loyal serf pleading with him to talk to the salesman with the machine gun he wants to show him. In the USA some citys have actually gone bankrupt throug the waste management policies operating on the same lines as being introduced here. Incineration and wheelie bins are costing us environmentally, financially and health wise. Expects more revolts such as the Blaina Gwent residents. It has too stop.

  2. More drivel from the red-green payroll NGO lobby. Maybe it’s time the authors of articles on Click should be made to disclose their salaries and present a ‘Register of Interests’ when vested interest is obvious? The delusional content is predictable enough – along with all the rest of the breathless vested interest hype on the run-up to COP21.

    Anybody wanting a more rational approach to climate science is welcome to follow The Paris Climate Challenge:


    The list of dissenting expert climate scientist signatories demanding answers to some very basic questions from the UN/IPCC seems to grow year by year – now 169 in number. But since 2009 answers there are none… The science isn’t settled – there is no consensus – how can there be when we know so little?

    The ‘science’ that will be presented at COP21 will be, once again, mostly anti-science from the same discredited clique of anti-capitalists, religiously motivated wealth redistributionists, 3rd World wealth redistributionists, and assorted ‘scientists’ desperate to cling onto their gravy train of research funding until they retire.

    They will continue to deny that the main driver of earth’s climate is the sun. They will continue to deny that water vapour is the only significant greenhouse ‘gas’… They will continue to ignore the albedo and insulation effects of clouds… They will continue to make outlandish (read outrageous) claims of man-made effects on the climate which cannot possibly happen. They will continue to claim that man’s 2-4% of CO2 plant food is more damaging than the natural 96-98%. They will continue to use computer models which can’t predict the weather 5 days in advance and tell us what is going to happen in 2050 or 2100 when they haven’t got a bloody clue. Nice work if you get it!

    And all the time the data suggests that the sun is going down into a solar grand minimum of Dalton or Maunder proportions which will probably reduce the earth’s average temperature by around 1.5 degrees by 2035 – twice the natural increase since the industrial age began. Not that the industrial age has anything to do with it… Correlation is not causation – especially when it’s coincidence!

    David Davies MP seems to get it – but is he the only elected politician in Wales who does?


  3. @John R Walker
    “The ‘science’ that will be presented at COP21 will be, once again, mostly anti-science from the same discredited clique of anti-capitalists, religiously motivated wealth redistributionists, 3rd World wealth redistributionists, and assorted ‘scientists’ desperate to cling onto their gravy train of research funding until they retire.”
    Don’t fret the views of those riding first class on the oil express will prevail again.

  4. From an article in the Observer by Alex Renton:
    “Academic studies are just bricks in a wall – you need to see the whole edifice”.
    His sage words (no pun intended) refer to pseudo-food-science.
    Sadly, much the same approach to undermining the scientific body of knowledge (involving rigorous, mind-numbingly-repetitive-measurement-and-observation, analyses from multiple perspectives, noise-elimination and synthesis), by the media, vested interests and supported by a smidge of bad science is a process. This same combative process as deployed by the “healthy eating” industry, and many others not interested in advancing collective understanding / doing something constructive with our imperfect enlightenment.
    For a little insight into climate science today, watch http://thiniceclimate.org/
    (There’s a showing in Talgarth this Sunday eve, for those who live nearby – otherwise, screen your own showing).
    The dedicated men and women depicted there are not publishing results because they want to confuse and scare society. Scrutiny is something scientists expect. But being ignored and attacked, there comes a point when it’s no longer justifyable…….
    Are we there yet? COP21 will tell……

  5. @John Walker Whilst I chuckle appreciatively at some of your sentiments about the people involved in climate change issues I think the link you gave for the ( discredited?) Paris Climate Challenge should be balanced by the following link:
    I think that most of the nutters (very possibly bribed by industry) are on one side of this argument. I think you know which side I mean.
    On the other hand, Mark Steyn is ominously persuasive on the geopolitics of these issues, especially the ‘hockey stick’. see http://steynonline.com

  6. What ever happened to WWF Cymru? Was once a great organization. Policy expertise have not been there for a few years now.

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