Following today’s announcement by the Welsh Government of a climate emergency, Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales said:

“I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has declared a climate emergency. Although I recognise the efforts Welsh Government and others have put towards the sustainable development agenda in Wales, notably the passing of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and the Environment (Wales) Act, establishing a £5m Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation at Cardiff University and recently the publishing of the Government’s Low Carbon Delivery Plan, more is needed to address climate change.

  • Wildlife populations globally have already declined by 58% since 1970 and this is likely to reach 67% by 2020. Here in Wales there are specific threats to soils, freshwater resources, marine ecosystems, wildlife and habitats, and we are now among the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with 1 in 14 wildlife species facing extinction. Without healthy functioning ecosystems, we cannot resist, recover from or adapt to the changes facing our planet.
  • Around 11% of Wales’ building stock is located in river or coastal floodplains, with 53,000 of those properties in places facing significant chance of river or coastal flooding.
  • 84% of Wales’ land is agricultural. The productivity of farming may be dramatically altered under different climatic conditions, particularly considering that some 80% of this land is already designated as ‘less favourable’, i.e. experiencing poor land, cultivation and climatic conditions. Climate change could also damage ancient woodlands, hedgerows and other natural assets

“In declaring an emergency, I call on the Welsh Government to set out how it intends to respond and resource the challenges we’re facing from a changing climate, specifically in their annual budget, and how they will take steps to limit emissions.

“At the end of last year, following work on scrutinising the budget, I published a report with recommendations for decarbonisation highlighting that investment needs to reflect ambition, and that Welsh Government should:

  •  clearly articulate how the actions set out in the Low Carbon Delivery Plan will be funded in order for us to meet our statutory emission reduction target;
  • considers and sets out the level of cross-Government investment needed to meet our targets particularly in relation to transport, housing/buildings and the transition to a low carbon Wales.

“This means investing in sustainable transport solutions like trains, buses and active travel, rather than an M4 relief road, ensuring all new homes and buildings in Wales are net carbon positive and that we’re able to retrofit existing buildings and invest in scaling up renewable energy. Over the coming months, I will be launching a series of guidance to public bodies and others in Wales to assist them in achieving the aspirations of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. In particular, the ‘Journey to a Resilient Wales’ and ‘Journey to a Globally Responsible Wales’ provide practical and necessary steps public bodies should make to help limit their carbon emissions and positively contribute to our people and planet.

I will continue to work with stakeholders from across public, private and third sectors to highlight the challenge and encourage everyone to take urgent action. “