Climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world in the 21st century and we must take immediate action to tackle it, or face environmental, economic, cultural and social impacts which will affect current and future generations, and disproprtionally impact people in poverty within Wales and across the world.
Wales changed the world in the past, and we can make a big contribution to changing the future. Welsh coal powered the industrial revolution. Now we could lead the renewable energy revolution, show the way in tackling climate change, and benefit from the rapidly growing global green economy.
We have had strong political commitment to cutting our greenhouse gas emissions in Wales since devolution, with the introduction of annual policy targets to cut by 3% in areas of devolved competence every year from 2011, cross party commitment to cutting all our emissions 40% by 2020 and most recently a statutory framework for setting carbon budgets and targets in the Environment Act.
Friends of the Earth Cymru campaigned as part of Stop Climate Chaos Cymru for a fair climate deal in the Paris COP21 talks in December 2015, and for Wales to play it’s fair share in cutting emissions. Please see Stop Climate Chaos Cymru website for further information about this campaign.
We also campaigned for a statutory framework for tackling climate change in Wales, which was introduced in Part 2 of the Environment Act passed by the Assembly in February 2016. We’re pleased that we will finally have carbon budgets for Wales and targets for 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050, that we will measure our consumption from goods and servicces used in Wales and that reference is made to being in line with internationala greements to limit global temperatures, but believe that the overall 2050 target of “at least 80%” reduction is too low and does not reflect the latest science or our global responsibilities.
We are now calling for the carbon budgets to be in line with our global responsibilities and the Paris Agreement.
Climate change impacts
Human activities are changing the chemical composition of our atmosphere and of the oceans. There is a high risk that climate change could lead to major and irreversible changes in the planet's natural cycles. Global food prices are increasing, in part because the changing global climate is exacerbating droughts and poor harvests in food-producing areas. The climate is changing here in Wales, and its effects are already being felt. There is now a quarter less summer rain than there was 100 years ago, with a further 15% reduction highly likely by the middle of the century. Already average temperatures are more than 1°C higher here than 100 years ago, with a predicted further increase of about 1.5°C by the middle of the century.
These rising temperatures are changing habitats in Wales, and affecting plants and wildlife. Rising sea levels, combined with greater frequency and higher intensity of storms, are increasing the risk of flooding. There will be more extreme weather events in Wales, costing us money and affecting our health and livelihoods.