Climate change is one of the biggest threats to people, wildlife, and wild places all over the world. We need to act now to reduce the risks it poses to us, our communities, and all the things we love. Wales has laws in place to help us do that, but we need politicians to use them properly. I caught up with Rhys Gruffudd Williams from Stop Climate Chaos Cymru (SCC Cymru), who are organising a Local Climate Lobby throughout October, to find out what’s going on.
CRJ: First of all, tell us a little about yourself and Stop Climate Chaos Cymru.
RGW: Well, I am recently graduated from the University of York in Environmental Science. Having lived over the border for three years, I’ve come home to Cardiff to take work with SCC Cymru, joining the vital campaign of tackling climate change in Wales. SCC Cymru is a coalition of 16 organisations in Wales who represent thousands of people and work together to keep climate change on the political and public agendas.
CRJ: Now then, what’s this lobby all about?
RGW: Our ‘Speak Up’ Local Climate Lobby will be taking place all through October. Members of the public across Wales will be meeting with their Assembly Members, as well as some of their Members of Parliament, in their constituencies. There are all sorts of meetings taking place, and we’ve been encouraging participants to showcase their communities. They’ll be telling their AMs why they’re concerned about climate change and calling on them to ‘Speak Up’ and take action to tackle climate change.
CRJ: You’ve got events all over Wales, haven’t you? Tell us a bit about them.
RGW: That’s right! There are a number of exciting events across Wales. I will be attending a fantastic event in my own constituency of Cardiff West, where we will be visiting the innovative Radyr Weir Hydro Scheme on the River Taff. We’re hoping to put on a tour of the facilities and show our politicians that supporting more renewable energy is a brilliant way to tackle climate change. There are other great events taking place too, like a nature walk with the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Mark Williams MP, in Ceredigion, where they’ll be seeing the fragile Dyfi Biosphere Reserve, which is under serious threat from climate change. There is also an opportunity for the younger generation to lead the lobby in Ynys Môn, with school children posing questions about climate change to Albert Owen MP. It’s great to see some really interesting and imaginative events taking place across Wales.
CRJ: How can people get involved?
RGW: People can get involved by simply visiting our website. We have an interactive map where you can sign-up as interested in attending an event or interested in organising an event. On the map you can see whether there are other people in your area that want to attend an event or you can join an event if there is one already planned in your constituency.
CRJ: What will people be asking the decision-makers to do?
RGW: This whole campaign is so exciting because it’s the first opportunity for the Assembly Members who were elected in May to meet groups of constituents from their own community and talk about climate change. Wales has two great laws called the Environment Act and the Well-being of Future Generations Act, and they give us a good foundation for action. We’re asking the Welsh Government to plan to meet its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020, and that means doing things like making Welsh homes more efficient in saving energy. That doesn’t just have environmental benefits – it also helps tackle fuel poverty and improve public health. We will also be asking for Wales to move away from using fossil fuels and increase the share of renewables in our energy system. Finally, it’s so important that the Welsh Government properly implements the Well-being of Future Generations Act. It can lead by example. For instance, why not look at how it can divest its own funds from fossil fuel industries?
CRJ: Wales is in a great position to lead the way on tackling climate change, isn’t it?
RGW: Yes, absolutely! As I mentioned earlier, those two laws give us a great footing. One of the well-being goals described in the Well-being of Future Generations Act is a ‘globally responsible Wales’, where Wales is a nation which, when doing anything to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales, takes account of whether doing it makes a positive contribution to global well-being. The Environment Act also gives a clear pathway for decarbonisation, with an ambitious target set at an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, based on 1990 levels. Moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy will make a massive difference to helping reach that 80% reduction. Wales has the potential to lead the world in renewable energy technology. Right on our doorstep in Wales, we have the second largest tidal range in the world, abundant wind resources and, believe it or not, south west Wales is amongst the best places in the UK for generating solar power! Our country is in a great position to lead the way on tackling climate change.
CRJ: Finally Rhys, tell us: why is tackling climate change so important to you?
RGW: If we don’t deal with climate change urgently, it will have a profound impact on us all. Tackling climate change is important to me for so many reasons. On a global level, it’s so incredibly vital to putting an end to famine, drought and the spread of disease. And let’s not forget that some of the world’s most iconic wildlife is threatened by extinction due to changes in climate, with whole habitats such as tropical coral reefs threatened with extinction. Even at home in recent years, we’ve seen winter storms and flooding damaging our communities and wildlife. Rising sea levels threaten people in Wales and around the world, and climate change is one of the main drivers of that.
CRJ: Thanks for the catch-up, and good luck with the lobby!
RGW: No problem, and thank you too!
To find out how you can join an event near you as part of Stop Climate Chaos Cymru’s Local Climate Lobby, visit the coalition’s website.
WWF Cymru is a member of Stop Climate Chaos Cymru, a coalition of 16 influential organisations in Wales who collectively represent the views of thousands of people in Wales and work to keep climate change high on the public agenda.