Senedd declares “Climate Emergency”: Is that enough?

(Title Image: Plaid Ifanc via Twitter)

The Motion (Final/Amended Version)

The Senedd:

  • Notes the stark warning from the world’s scientific community that there are just 12 years left to prevent 1.5C warming and further notes that warming beyond 1.5C represents a threat to the future of humanity and even limited warming will wreak havoc upon the livelihoods of countless people across the world.
  • Welcomes the fact that solutions to the climate crisis are widely available including renewable technology, sustainable transport and zero-carbon buildings.
  • Calls on the Welsh Government to declare a climate emergency.
  • Commends the Welsh Government for: bringing forward the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Environment (Wales) Act; committing the public sector in Wales to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and for all public sector buildings to be supplied with 100% renewable energy by 2020 or as soon as contractually able; and exploring all options for decarbonising the Welsh economy.

“Business as usual is not an option”

As you probably already know, the Welsh Government pre-empted this debate by declaring a “Climate Emergency” by themselves. Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) was nevertheless disturbed by comments from the First Minister earlier this week that declaring a climate emergency didn’t represent a difference in policy.

“In essence, it’s establishing two new committees and giving Cardiff University a bit more money. Well, my question to the First Minister and to the Government is whether you’re really up for this challenge?…. We’ve seen recently published the Government’s ‘Low Carbon Wales‘ paper, and the BBC highlighted quite clearly that the vast majority of pledges in that document already exist. This has to be a game changer, and business as usual is not an option.”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM

There are a number of policies Llyr believes should be pursued, such as making Wales self-reliant in renewable energy, fully mapping Wales’ green energy potential and an ambitious retrofitting programme for homes.

Shadow Environment Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), outlined some of the successes the UK Government have had, with a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – while Wales has lagged behind at just a 19% reduction. He agreed that just declaring an emergency to grab headlines and plaudits wasn’t enough.

Weight of the future

Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) said glumly that “my generation is the generation that has destroyed the planet” and that generation’s legacy has to be to help solve the problems which will be left to future generations to clean up. Huw Irranca-Davies AM (Lab, Ogmore) called for brave leadership and the cost of doing nothing will end up being much higher than the cost of taking necessary steps to address this now.

Somewhat inevitably, the Newport bypass was raised. Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East) said the Government had to make the right call there. In terms of the broader picture, nations which didn’t cause the problem (Mongolia, Mozambique) are facing up to the devastating impact of climate change through rapid average temperature increases, air pollution and powerful cyclones, while 1 in 14 native Welsh species are in decline.

“We should set highly far-reaching targets to limit our carbon output, encourage greater use of public transport and electric vehicles, and take steps to become powered solely by renewable energy….declaring this emergency is a welcome, necessary step, but it must be the beginning of a sea change in our approach towards protecting our environment because the impact of climate change isn’t remote, isolated or far away, it is now, it is immediate, it is near at hand. Solving it too and halting it is also within our grasp.”
– Delyth Jewell AM

Local Carbon Plan “could be revised”

Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), said that even Plaid Cymru’s proposed solutions wouldn’t even go halfway towards what needs to be done. There had to be collective action across the whole of society and, under advisement from the UK’s Climate Change Committee, the Welsh Government’s Low Carbon Plan will be revised.

Vote

For some reason, the public weren’t allowed into the gallery to watch this debate. This decision was noted with dismay by Llyr Gruffydd, while Jenny Rathbone AM (Lab, Cardiff Central) raised a point of order on the matter.

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