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Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs

First published:
20 September 2018
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Last week I attended the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco with other global leaders from Government, business and civil society from around the World to “Take Ambition to the Next Level”.

Wales has a longstanding commitment to taking action on climate change. We were the first Fair Trade nation in the world and most recently, Wales became the first country in the world to legislate for delivering the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. In times of global adversity and change, it is particularly important we continue to work and engage with other partners on one of the biggest challenges we face.

At the summit, I attended the Under2 Coalition General Assembly, to which Wales was a founding signatory. Over the last few years the coalition has grown in strength and numbers, with 206 jurisdictions, from 43 countries and collectively represents nearly $30 trillion in GDP, equivalent to nearly 40% of the global economy. Together, the Under2 Coalition are taking over 2,300 climate actions across key sectors such as buildings, energy, transport, land use and more. I was proud to hear at the Assembly, Wales is once again confirmed as a Steering Group Member for Europe and look forward to working with partners over the next few years in taking action on climate change and sharing learning.

Wales recognises our global responsibility role. For a country, which was once at the forefront of the industrial revolution with the biggest coal port in the world, we recognise we have to transition to a low carbon clean economy. This is why at the Summit, Wales signed up to the Powering Past Coal Alliance with 9 other members, which now brings the Alliance up to 74 members. The Alliance led by Canada and the UK Government consists of Governments, cities and organisations who are committed to moving the world from burning coal to cleaner power sources.

Alongside joining others in the Alliance, we also recognise we can help others to transition. The vision of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is that of a shared sustainable developed world, in which no one is left behind. Climate change is not an issue we can solve as individual nations but one of which we need to take collective action. This is why Wales has once again committed to supporting the Climate Group’s Future Fund, recognising our global responsibility and because it is essential to work together on this global challenge.  This fund is aimed at strengthening developing and emerging economies at the state level, enabling them to undertake bold climate leadership, build capacity, and facilitate knowledge-sharing.

I also shared our learning on what we are doing in Wales in areas such as waste, where we have gone from being nearly at the bottom of the EU recycling league in 2000 to now being first in the UK, second in Europe and if Wales was recognised as a nation state, we would be third in the world. I was proud Wales was recognised as a leading region in the area of waste and featured in the Rocky Mountain Institute international carbon free handbook, which looks at no regret actions around decarbonisation.  Although we have made progress in this area, we are not complacent and at the summit, Wales signed up to the C40 Cities’ Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration alongside some of the world’s leading cities & regions.

The success of our transition and everyone else’s transition will only come if we share our learning, ideas and actions. Summits like these provides a perfect opportunity to do this and I held a number of bilaterals with other States and Regions such as British Columbia, Baden-Württemberg, the Basque Country and Quebec as well as sharing what Wales is doing through talks and panel discussions.

The wider learning and best practice from the summit, along with responses from our consultation “Achieving our low Carbon Pathway to 2030,” which is open until 4th October, will help to shape our future actions and help us achieve the multiple opportunities a low carbon economy brings.