Search

Wales Vs Climate Change

Climate Change Julie James

Last week the Editor of our Chamber Journal, Miles Bennington, was lucky enough to sit down with Julie James, the Welsh Minister for Climate Change for a wide ranging interview on her brief, which, as she explains links in to almost every aspect of Government in Wales.

Strategy for the future

To begin with Miles asked what action of this Welsh Government is Julie most proud of. Julie’s answer highlighted one of the most frustrating elements of climate change policy: the gradual and difficult to attribute nature of the solutions.  Julie’s answer focussed on announcements and strategies rather than tangible reductions in carbon emissions, Wales’ declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2019, the 2021 declaration of a nature emergency and the creation of her post as Minister for Climate Change in 2021. While it is perhaps unsurprising that the Minister for Climate Change focused on the strategic direction the Welsh Government has taken on climate issues, it shows just how hard it will be for politicians to communicate the outcomes of their decisions on decarbonisation which by necessity will come by collaborations between different levels of government, public services and businesses and not specific projects that politicians can explain to the public.

Her focus on the future was clear with Julie touting the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015 which enshrined in Welsh Law the requirement for government to act in accordance with Wales’ goals for long term sustainability.

Just transition

The next question asked who and what in Wales would be hardest hit by decarbonisation. Julie highlighted the historical precedent of previous industrial revolutions lumping the greatest burdens of transition on those already disadvantaged in society. She cited potential pain points in Wales economy as the higher than average manufacturing sector, much of it powered by gas, an oil refinery and a steel plant in Wales which will need protection or help during the transition. The paradoxes of this transition were also highlighted as she notes that any transition to renewable energy will require a great deal of steel. The Port Talbot Steelworks employs several thousand people and is one of the largest steel plants in Europe, decarbonisation will be important not only to those workers but to the UK’s ability to maintain low carbon manufacturing more generally. Julie was especially motivated to make sure that Wales takes advantage of the opportunity of floating wind power in the Celtic Sea.

She mentioned co-ordination the Welsh Government facilitates with businesses of the South Wales Industrial Cluster which includes many businesses that will need to find alternative energy sources to natural gas. Currently the cluster emits 16m tonnes of CO2 per year and so it is holding events to explore hydrogen and carbon capture and storage as alternatives to the carbon emissions currently necessary for their operations.

Regulation and public procurement are also important tool in her arsenal for ensuring a speedy transition with new efficiency standards for house builders and targets to decarbonise the Welsh NHS.

Final Thought

The picture Julie James painted of a Government that was busy pulling every lever, consulting every stakeholder and leaving no stone unturned in search of climate mitigation solutions was a welcome one. It is also encouraging to see that the challenges Wales in particular will face when decarbonising have been taken on board and as Julie rightly highlighted, this transition represents an industrial revolution and they often come with significant harm to those most vulnerable in society.

What is striking about this work is how many people will have to be involved in it. Even the Minister for Climate Change does not have the ability to simply list Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions by source and then start systematically knocking them out. Each source leads to supply chains, stakeholders and most solutions require sources of funding from outside of Wales. It’s clear from what the Minister said that decarbonisation will require a whole of society effort.

View the full interview here

Share

Related Topics

Latest

Plans for Diagnostics: NHS Screenings and Sunak’s Agenda

As long waiting lists for the NHS continue to persist, and people receiving diagnoses in adequate time has not reached its target, Sunak ventured on a campaign trail yesterday to trumpet new measures aimed at promoting timely diagnostics. This was to help ensure he can meet one of his top five priorities: cutting NHS waiting lists.

Hunt’s Bold Vision for the Economy

Hunt primarily proposed his bold vision for the economy and highlighted the value of investing in life sciences and the NHS especially during its time of crisis.

Video Features

Does Democracy Require Proportional Representation?

Marking LGBT+ History Month 2024

How Can We Make the UK the Greatest Place to Grow Old?

Why Should Women Stand for Office?

Subscribe to our newsletter for your free digital copy of the journal!

Receive our latest insights, future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup

Receive our latest insights as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.