Extinction Rebellion has highlighted the existential threat to humanity posed by climate change in Wales and around the world, and young people have inspired everyone to raise their voices.
Local actions recently took place right across Wales, from schoolchildren striking in response to Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg’s weekly strike, to colourful marches and demonstrations.
On 23 April, a mass cycle ride brought traffic to a standstill in Cardiff city centre (as it had on 9 March also). Wendy Lewis of campaigning choir Côr Cochion summed up the defiant mood: ‘World events continue to keep us on the streets of Cardiff. Our march halted traffic in St Mary Street and Castle Street to call calling attention to the mass extinction of insects and other living creatures with whom we share our planet.’
Further on the topic of climate change, Friends of the Earth Cymru (FOEC) welcomed the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report on emissions targets published on 2 May. FOEC challenged the Welsh government to aim higher than the report’s recommendation that Wales reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2050.
Friends of the Earth has outlined plans for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2045 at the latest.
For Wales, according to FOEC, this would include moving swiftly to carbon-free heating and electricity, planting many more trees to absorb carbon, and not locking the country into a high-carbon future with infrastructure like the M4 relief road.
FOEC highlights Wales’ strong track record of ground-breaking policies and laws like the Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015), which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change.
FOEC applauded the Welsh government for declaring a climate emergency, while calling for action to back up the words. Haf Elgar, FOEC director, said: ‘This [CCC] report is a good start and a clear message that we must all move faster to cut our emissions. But Wales must do better than this, if we are serious about tackling the climate emergency.…We’re confident that with political will, determination and innovation, we can reach net zero emissions. The solutions are out there – there are great examples of people making a difference in communities across Wales and we need to work together to create a safe, healthy and sustainable world.’