Driving climate action at Wales Climate Week 2020
Wales may be a small nation, but we have big ambition, writes Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Welsh Government
Wales may be a small nation, but we have big ambition. Over the last 20 years Wales has been leading action in ensuring sustainability begins not just at home, but in our global actions. Wales was the first fair trade nation and one of the first countries to link their legislation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier this month, we hosted a series of events aimed at tackling the climate emergency and looking at what Wales can do to play its part.
‘Wales Climate Week’ took place around the original date for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow and it starts the countdown to the rescheduled event as well as the publication of our next All Wales Low Carbon Delivery Plan (LCDP2) in 2021, showing the world we are ready to play our part.
The pandemic has forced us to change our plans for the conference however our commitment remains unchanged. Instead of a one-day in-person event we held a full week of virtual events, open to all. Over 2200 people signed up to the website for the week, over 80 speakers 50 case studies and we have taken our pledges, which are our seeds for action for the All Wales Plan, to over 70.
We can only achieve this by working together right across our communities in Wales, with all nations of the UK and Europe, and through cooperation with nations in the global North and global South.
One of the most significant ways Wales is already taking action on climate change is through our role in the Under2 Coalition. We are proud to be founding members and see it grow into the largest global network of states and regions committed to reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. 220 governments now make up the Coalition, which represents 43% of the world’s economy.
Wales has been an active member of the Under2 Coalition since 2015 and is now also a member of its Steering Group for 2020-2022. In this position we will be helping to set the Coalition’s aspirations and goals and pushing for more climate ambition at national level around the world.
Since 2014 we have been taking part in the Climate Group’s Global States and Regions Annual Disclosure process – where states and regions report on their climate actions and targets. This is a vital part of cutting emissions, because it is impossible to cut without knowing which sectors are contributing the most. As part of the Under2 Coalition’s “Tracking to Action” peer forums, hosted by the Climate Footprint Project, we recently shared with other regions how Wales is tracking policies, activities and emissions to understand the mix more accurately.
We’re taking part in ambitious projects to find solutions to climate change and drive down greenhouse gas emissions across the world. As part of the Industry Transition Platform we’re looking at ways to cut emissions from industry while supporting growth, job creation and prosperity. This month we contributed to the group’s report ‘Fostering Disruptive Innovation Opportunities’, which aims to build relationships between government and the private sector and help make the most of current technologies, policies and financial support. As part of our week, we highlighted this important group with input from North Rhine-Westphalia.
Wales is also committed to helping less developed regions to work on climate change when they may not have the resources or funds to do so. Through the Under2 Coalition’s Future Fund we are supporting these regions so that they can join international climate networks, participate in high level meetings and develop their abilities to mitigate the effects of climate change. We have also been involved with a peer learning secondment with São Paulo, exchanging information and ideas. To date, the Fund has supported 51 regions across 10 countries and is making a real impact where it’s needed most.
Wales Climate Week has been an opportunity to reflect on our environment, together, at just the right time. As the world continues to deal with the effects of COVID-19 it becomes ever clearer that we need to build a more resilient society that protects what we value the most. So many people have developed a broader appreciation for nature and our climate in lockdown and momentum is building to do things better.
As 2020 draws to a close we will be looking to the year ahead and the actions we can take in this Climate Decade to keep global temperature rises well below 2°C. Wales will continue to work with its partners to make tackling climate change a priority for national governments in the lead up to COP26 and beyond. We have an opportunity now to make a positive change, and we must seize this opportunity together.