This is the text of a speech given by Sion Sleep at the launch of ‘Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales’ in March 2019
11 years……. 11 mlynedd……. That’s the amount of time that the intergovernmental panel on climate change have estimated we have to change our ways to prevent a potentially catastrophic global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees.
11 years is a very short period of time and in the context of climate, it’s barely a blink of an eye, especially when you consider that the natural process that returns carbon to long-term storage takes hundreds of thousands of years. We should never have gotten ourselves into this situation, yet here we are.
People often refer to the planet as “our planet”. I am hesitant to do so. The planet does not belong to us, we share it with millions of other species we have evolved alongside. Everything that we have ever and will ever own was provided to us by nature, yet we have shown a complete disregard for our home and our neighbours. Our actions such as over-exploitation, agriculture and climate change have resulted in the extinction of 60% of species in just the last 50 years. We are now entering the sixth mass extinction.
All previous mass extinctions have been caused by natural processes, we have become the first species in earth’s history to do this all by ourselves. What a record to be proud of. If we wiped out 60% of a single community there would be complete uproar, but it seems ok to turn a blind eye when people are profiting from the destruction of the planet. This is not fair. These shocking realities clearly show that it is paramount that we drastically change our relationship with the natural world.
The youth have inherited this broken planet. We did not ask for this and we do not want it, but we are left with little choice. Last Friday, outside the Senedd, I joined a group of brave young people with powerful messages as part of the school’s strike for climate campaign. Strikes like this happened up and down the country, making it obvious that the youth of Wales want action. If we don’t act soon we will ultimately be the people that have to solve this, but by then it might be too late. If we don’t act now our children will be born into a world of diminished resources, diminished wildlife and diminished hope. This is not fair. Much of what has been done is irreversible but we must look forward to a more positive future. You have the power to harness the passion of the youth so let’s work together to make change a reality.
Climate change is here and is affecting Wales, and with more extreme weather such as last summer and February, it is clear we have to take action now to prevent further change. Although our lavish lifestyles are producing large amounts of emissions we will not feel the worst effects but instead, people less fortunate than us around the world that have contributed the least, will. These people, ecosystems and our future are dying. This is not fair.
It is amazing that Wales is committed to a low-carbon future. The strategies set out today are huge steps in the right direction and they fill me with genuine hope. I truly believe that we can do this if we work together and really commit. We are legally required to reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050. However, I think we all know how easy it is to miss these kinds of targets. Let us make sure that 80% really is the minimum, and not see any further success as a bonus, but instead strive for excellence. Although we are not the biggest country or polluters we are far more fortunate than much of the world. Let us be world leaders in preventing climate change. Westminster showed the world they don’t care when a few weeks ago 610 MP’s failed to turn up for the first climate talks in the Commons in two years. Let us show the world that Wales does care. We have the resources and you have the power, let us act on it.
Mother Nature has no voice, but she is showing us signs of her suffering. She gasps for air as we cut down her lungs, she lets out screams of greenhouse gases as we burn her blood, she looks pale and ill as we bleach her corrals and tears run down her ice-cap cheeks and fall into a forever deepening pool of saline sadness.
Let Wales be a shining beacon in this time of darkness. Westminster has failed to address the issue, it is now up to you to do your duty to secure the well-being of future generations. We have 11 years to complete the greatest comeback in human history.
Mother Nature has no voice, but you do. Be the voice. The time is now. Do it for Wales. Does gan natur dim llais, ond mae un gennych chi. Byddwch y llais. Yr amser yw nawr. Gwnech fe dros Gymru.
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