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Written Statement: Wales Climate Week

Next week we had planned to hold our annual all-Wales Climate Conference bringing together hundreds of citizens representing public bodies, businesses and communities determined to accelerate our response to the climate emergency.

We are unable to hold such an in-person event next week due to the need for decisive action to suppress the circulation of the Covid-19 virus. At this time we are asking people in Wales as far as is reasonably practical to stay at home until 9 November to keep Wales safe.

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 are holding a full week of virtual events, which are open to all and in which we hope as many as a thousand people will participate.

The events are a key pillar of our approach to creating an all-Wales plan in which every public body, community and business in Wales has a role to play. The plan must enable transformative change in our economy and society which cannot rely singularly on money or the force of the law, or on individual action alone. 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.

We are motivated by the need to safeguard the wellbeing of future generations against the present and growing threat posed by the changing climate and the unsustainable use of natural resources which is driving it.

This is an urgent challenge and it is also a creative challenge. We are bringing people together for Wales Climate Week with the aim of creating a low carbon Wales in the face of this challenge, to strengthen the resilience of our communities, our economy and our environment.

We can create greener workplaces in social partnership between trades unions, business and government, to support more workers to take a more active role in finding ways to develop processes and skills that serve to reduce environmental impact and support the creation of new industries and jobs.

We can create a National Forest that runs the length of Wales, supporting Welsh land managers and communities to maximise carbon stores in our forests, our peatlands and our seas.

We can create zero carbon energy systems serving our homes, industry and transport, with more of the capacity we need being built and generated by Welsh businesses, public bodies and communities.

We can create the world’s most climate-friendly farming and food system with new technologies in combination with traditional low intensity methods.

There are outstanding examples of these and many other ways in which the creation of a low carbon Wales is already underway, in housing, recycling, environmental science, in transport and connectivity. There is much more we need to do collectively to accelerate this activity, to drive innovation and to work to ensure the costs and benefits of change are shared fairly.

The events of Wales Climate Week are designed to encourage collaboration to create the elements needed for Wales’ Low Carbon Delivery Plan. The plan must set out how we will meet or exceed the emissions reductions targets for 2021 to 2025 recommended by our independent statutory advisors, the UK Committee on Climate Change. We believe to succeed this must be an all-Wales plan, designed and delivered not by government acting alone or in narrow coalition but rather by drawing on the energy and ideas of all public bodies, businesses and communities.

The publication of Wales’ Low Carbon Delivery Plan in 12 months’ time will coincide with COP 26, the United Nations global climate summit taking place in Glasgow. This event will be an opportunity for Wales’ ingenuity and determination to inspire increased ambition for action at the global level. The current trajectory of global emissions suggests that far more concerted and rapid action is needed to avert the worst effects of climate change. The impact of the level of global warming that could result from the current rate of global emissions threatens many of the world’s natural ecosystems and the lives and livelihoods of people in Wales and around the world. Many of the most severe effects are felt in those communities who can be said to have made the least contribution to the problem.

We believe Wales is well placed to play a role of global significance in accelerating our response to the climate emergency. We can achieve this by drawing on assets we have in abundance here in Wales, our natural heritage, our industry and our ingenuity. We will do so with a shared commitment to social justice and in solidarity with others around the world.

We hope that Wales Climate Week, which is online and open to all, will be an opportunity to involve more people more closely in our collective effort to create a low carbon Wales.

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