Collective action top priority for Wales' approach to climate change

wales castle

Salix takes a look at the key discussions in Wales this week

Barriers faced by industry, business, communities and households across Wales will provide the solutions to climate change, according to speakers at Wales Climate Week talks.

The Minister for Climate Change at Welsh Government, Julie James opened the virtual conference, taking place over five days between 4– 8 December coinciding with COP28. The Minister gave a a presentation on collective action that is driven by the guiding principle of ‘leaving no one behind.‘

The event comes as the Welsh Government embarks on the Just Transition Framework, setting out how Wales will deliver on net zero.


Delivering on net zero ambitions

Necessary actions highlighted in the presentations included the importance of a shift toward a low-carbon economy that invests in workers while creating employment opportunities in renewable energy and green technologies. Social cohesion as an important foundation for change, and the inclusion of diverse and vulnerable voices in the discussion were also emphasised.

Chief Executive Officer at Net Zero Industry Wales Ben Burggraaf said: “We need to retain value while developing people and skills.

“Industry plays a big part in marking decarbonisation a reality. We can retain the skill within local communities while progressing towards a new green industrial revolution that includes those most impacted.”


Education at the forefront of change

In keeping with the theme of ‘fairness’ and the inclusion of all voices, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner Rocio Cifuentes delivered a presentation on the importance of including young people’s voices in the climate crisis discussion. 

Rocio said: “Our main focus needs to be on supporting young people and advocating for a just transition, we need quality education for the younger generation.”

Further speakers also emphasised the impact of sparking passion for climate action at a young age and using firsthand experience with the environment to convey the connection between everyday activity and the actions we need to take to reach net zero.

The role of the public sector

Wales’ public sector hopes to navigate and capitalise on this terrain in its efforts to reach net zero by 2030. With the support of Salix and Welsh Government Energy Service, public sector organisations are introducing a range of decarbonisation measures with the hopes of cutting carbon emissions and reducing energy costs.

Climate Change Programme Manager at Cyngor Gwynedd Council Bethan Richardson said: “We have to think about how we can be creative with the resources, people, skills and passion that we have in our communities.

“To make a difference we need to convene public bodies with others to shape good practice and learning with other councils. We need to help overcome infrastructure issues and support public bodies to involve communities.

“We are only successful in our ambitions if we take people with us.”

Discussions also focused on the importance of forming strong, effective relationships with key stakeholders when delivering public sector decarbonisation projects.

The decarbonisation of transport and housing

Day two of the conference discussed the role of decarbonisation the nation’s transport links and public sector properties, including government plans to decarbonise its rail traction by 2040.

The role of hydrogen as a means to keep the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit was given prominence throughout discussions.

Strategic Development at Transport for Wales Ben George said: “Train decarbonisation is one of the key transport areas that we can act on now. There are clear advantages to using hydrogen and clear opportunities for battery as part of this journey.”

Discussions between delegates from The Climate Change Committee and members of Transport for Wales also emphasised the importance of electrification of vehicles as a means of reducing the nation’s transport emissions.

Funding available for the Welsh public sector

Salix administers funds on behalf of the Welsh Government, for public sector bodies looking to introduce low carbon upgrades to their estates.

The Wales Funding Programme allows the public sector to apply for interest-free loans for up to one hundred percent of the costs of energy-saving or renewable energy projects.

The Salix Recycling Fund is also open for applications. This is a ring-fenced fund with capital provided by Salix and matched by the partner organisation, to be spent on energy-saving projects with paybacks up to eight years for Welsh clients.

For further information on the support available to those looking to get their decarbonisation works over the line, visit the Salix website.

Looking ahead

Wales Climate Week continues through to Friday 8 December, you can register for free for future discussions at Wales Climate Week via the Welsh Government website.

Future presentations include Rethinking Green Jobs and Skills, Community Climate Action and Fairness and Tackling The Public Health Effects of Climate Change.