Yesterday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency in Scotland. Today, the Welsh Government has done the same in Wales.
The Welsh Labour Party and Plaid Cymru led Welsh Government declared its support for the motion in a sudden move, following a meeting with the Scottish Government, which is controlled by the Scottish National Party.
The British Labour Party, currently sitting “in opposition” in the UK Parliament, has declared its support for a climate emergency as well.
Sophie Howe, who as Future Generations Commissioner for Wales is tasked with acting in the interest of all those Welsh generations yet to be allowed to vote or even to be born, was pleased with the news.
Here’s my statement on the @WelshGovernment declaration of a climate emergency. Future Generations Commissioner for Wales welcomes Welsh Government Climate Emergency declaration – The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales https://t.co/RCl5ojx6GT
— Sophie Howe (@sophiehowe) April 29, 2019
The term climate emergency refers to recognising that we are on the edge of catastrophic global climate change caused by human actions. It is what the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, Cardiff and other cities over the last fortnight were all about. It is about rearranging the government and economy to reward sustainable economic activity, in order to reduce carbon emissions and other forms of pollution.
Now that a Climate Emergency has been declared, it is time to see if the Welsh Government will act on it.
We've got to get the declaration turned into (non-concrete) real policy & investment decisions. Carry on rebelling!
— CALM (@CalmCampaign) April 29, 2019
The Welsh Government do not have power over every aspect of Wales- many things are still controlled by the UK Government, or by local councils, as well as private companies and individuals.
The most relevant areas over which the Welsh Government has control are energy, transport, agriculture and housing. Other sectors including town planning and tourism also have a part to play. The WG are also responsible for economic development, which means they should channel money into business projects which are environmentally sustainable.
As ever, the devil is in the detail. Politicians, scientists and business people may not agree on what counts as sustainable. For example, nuclear power is technically a low carbon way of generating energy. Yet not many people would be too happy to have a nuclear reactor built anywhere near them, nor to have to deal with the resulting nuclear waste.
And whilst investing in electric cars and new roads might make sense in rural Wales, here in Cardiff, in Newport and in Swansea it might be better to focus on electric bikes, bike lanes and of course the South Wales Metro.
Another area the Welsh Government has power over is flood defences. If the climate emergency really comes to a head, this may become the most important of all! This is what is known as building resilience. Many communities round Wales are coastal (such as here in Cardiff Bay)