“We must harness the passion of young activists” – First Minister launches plan to reduce Wales’ carbon emissions
Every generation should harness the passion the young activists and campaigners have shown towards climate change, First Minister Mark Drakeford, today said ahead of the publication of Wales’ plan to reduce carbon emissions.
In recent weeks, young people across the world have called for urgent collective action to tackle climate change.
Today, the Welsh Government is publishing Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales – a robust and detailed cross-government plan to cut emissions and contribute to the global fight against climate change.
It sets out how Wales will meet its first carbon budget and lays the foundations for how Wales will achieve its ambitious target of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.
It sets out 100 priorities and policies across all areas of government, including:
- Increasing tree planting to initially at least 2,000 hectares per year and then to double that to 4,000 hectares as rapidly as possible
- Commissioning an independent feasibility study on carbon capture use and storage
- Reducing emissions from power generation in Wales, including using our consenting, planning and permitting powers and developing a policy position on the fuels used to generate power
- Encouraging take-up of electric vehicles by developing a rapid charging network
- A bold ambition for buses, taxis and private hire vehicles to be zero emission by 2028
- Reviewing building regulations to explore how higher energy efficiency standards can be set for new builds
- Working with partners to include more about sustainability and decarbonisation in the new curriculum
- Providing fruit and fuel trees for the entire Mount Elgon region in Uganda by 2030.
The First Minister will confirm £4 million to support community-led low carbon projects. This includes £1.3 million for CARE – a community benefit society in Pembrokeshire, to help the Cwm Arian community become a low-carbon community.
A Low Carbon Wales will be launched at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff – once the heart of the global coal trade – in a symbol of Wales’ commitment to move forward and become a leader in clean energy technologies.
The plan is the result of collaborative working, with input from people and organisations across Wales, including young people.
Sion Sleep, a member of Uprising Cymru, who was part of the recent student protests in Cardiff against climate change, will be speaking at the launch event.
The First Minister said:
It’s impossible not to be inspired by the passion we have seen from younger generations, although I wouldn’t advocate young people missing school.
Our younger generations recognise the action we fail to take to make improvements to our environment now could have catastrophic consequences for their futures.
In Wales, we developed and introduced ground-breaking legislation, requiring us to consider the impact the decisions and policies we make will have on future generations.
This is why we are inviting young people to be a part of the conversation, to help embolden us to make the changes that are needed for their future.
The First Minister added:
Today’s plan lays the foundation for further change. The scale of the task is great, but the gravity of the situation is even greater.
As a government we have the responsibility to lead, but we cannot do this alone. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to take action.
Today, Cardiff University has been selected to lead a new £5 million centre to explore how we can live differently to achieve the rapid and far-reaching emissions cuts required to address climate change.
It will focus on challenging areas of everyday life that contribute substantially to climate change, but which have proven stubbornly resistant to change. These include consumption of goods and physical products, food and diet, travel, and heating/cooling in buildings.
Recognising the need for this transformative change, Welsh Government has worked closely with researchers at Cardiff University and its other partner organisations to shape the projects planned by the Centre.
The new Centre’s Director, Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh of Cardiff University, said:
While there is now international momentum on action to tackle climate change, it is clear that critical targets, such as keeping global temperature rise to well within 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, will be missed without fundamental transformations across all parts of society.
At the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations we recognise that climate change is an emergency that requires action on a far greater scale than has been seen so far. Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales recognises that everyone has a role to play. We will address the fundamental question of how we can live differently and better, in ways that meet the need for these systemic, deep and rapid emission reductions.
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, has contributed to the plan and will be speaking at today’s launch. She said:
I welcome the Welsh Government’s Low Carbon Wales plan which sets the foundation for Wales to transition to a low carbon nation, reflecting the ambition of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This, and future plans, will support the transformational shift needed to meet the 7 well-being goals and in particular, a Prosperous Wales well-being goal which redefines prosperity as an innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the environment and uses resources efficiently and proportionately.
I particularly welcome the focus on climate justice and ensuring an equitable transition. What we are talking about is a healthier, resilient more equitable future for our children and our children’s children and it is encouraging that young people have been given a voice in shaping this policy that affects their future.
We now need to see bold leadership across the whole of Government, and from our public bodies and public services boards in creating a movement of change that enables everyone to make better choices that minimise our collective emissions. From the builders who can help make our homes and offices more energy efficient, to our town planners who create the spaces we live in and travel to, to the young people who will pay with their health and well-being if we do not take immediate action to ensure we all play a crucial role in tackling climate change for the benefit of people today and our future generations.
Sion Sleep, Uprising Cymru said:
It is really important that young people have a voice with regards to climate change because we are the people who are going to have to deal with the problems eventually and our children as well. We are not the people who put ourselves in this situation but we are the people who are going to have to try and bring about real change.
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