For the first time ever, SERA hosted a lively and well-attended fringe event at Welsh Conference 2023 in Llandudno. It was a great success, and hopefully the start of a beautiful friendship!
Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change (oh yes, Wales has a powerful department and two ministers focussed on climate change and the environment and green infrastructure) spoke passionately on the leadership Wales is showing on the climate and nature emergencies. We were left in no doubt about the brave decisions being taken in Wales – including on the recent Roads Review – and the need to go further and faster if we are to avoid disaster.
David Hickling of RWE (also the event sponsor) shared their perspective on the huge potential of Wales to be a global leader in renewables, and the scope for green growth and jobs. The need for urgent investment in grid connectivity especially for offshore wind was stressed by all speakers, otherwise progress could stall and jobs be diverted elsewhere. Likewise, the ports investment needed to happen so manufacturing and service jobs could be maximised.
Steel was the focus of the final speaker and panellist Tony Brady (Unite’s National Officer for Steel) who stressed the need for a just transition to green steel which protected jobs here in the UK while decarbonising steel production. There are exciting plans to take steel at Tata Port Talbot and in Wales on this journey, but Tony also gave a stark warning that unless the UK government steps up urgently with support for steel in Wales then the steel industry may not be here to move to that greener future.
The event - chaired by Wales SERA Exec Member Huw Irranca-Davies - was a great success with lively debate and probing questions from the audience. It showed how Welsh Labour in government in Wales is leading on climate and environmental issues, and pioneering ground-breaking policies which could be a model for a future UK Labour government.
Devolution was always meant to create a laboratory of policy experimentation: from being the first nation in the UK to declare a Climate Emergency to the first UK nation to impose carrier-bag charges, to being 3rd in the world on recycling rates to introducing default 20mph speed limits, to our world-leading Well-Being of Future Generations legislation and so much more …
…Wales is showing the political will to lead where others will surely follow!