Rachel is a mum of two young adults, a teacher and someone who has always enjoyed being outside, enjoying natural scenery and wildlife. She is from north east Wales, and though has lived away, moved back to be near family when her eldest was very young. She is lucky to live somewhere semi-rural, and spends a lot of time walking the local area, looking out for wonderful Welsh wildlife and the visitors we get across the seasons. She likes to try to photograph it, but just for fun. She also takes the litter-pickers out with her on a regular basis.

Her family have been fans of the staycation even before they were forced into taking them. A beach holiday to them means exploring sand dunes and rock pools. It’s certainly fair to say the whole family are on board with looking after the environment and tackling climate change.

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Having been inspired by the Youth Climate Strikes (which her children took part in), they all became vegan two and a half years ago, and it was so much easier than they thought it would be! Although they had done the small things before – sorting their recycling and minimising their waste – they have been committed since to do even more to offset their carbon footprints, including switching to a renewable energy supplier, making additional contributions to allow their carbon to be offset, reducing use of cars, creating a wildlife garden and generally thinking carefully about what they buy and where from.

In your view, what do our leaders here in Wales, the UK and around the world need to do to solve climate change?

Our leaders need to stop procrastinating on the topic of climate change. They need to stop ‘othering’ and ‘whatabouting’ other nations, and get on with the job of making the changes they themselves are able to make. Wales can be the example that others want to follow.

They can start very practically by introducing ‘buy local’ policies across public services. Wales produces amazing foods and local authorities and organisations should be sourcing what they can from producers as local to them as possible. We should encourage and support farmers to look after the land for future generations, to focus on regenerative methods. The government should introduce laws to better protect our hedgerows and grasslands. Rather than building roads across land that is rich in biodiversity, the government should be investing in better public transport and rewarding it’s use. People who drop litter should be subject to higher fines, and I would certainly like our government to introduce plastic bottle returns schemes.

Why have you become a Climate Cymru ambassador?

To set an example to others: to show that you don’t have to be a ‘certain type’ of person to be involved. Anyone and everyone should be doing their bit to stand up for our planet!

As a nation, what do you feel we need to do to truly influence change?

We need to get the message out to everyone that we all have a part to play in influencing change. From individuals and communities, to corporations and the government. We can all influence each other, not just through campaigns, but through our actions and deeds.

What makes you optimistic for the future with regards to climate change?

I am optimistic for the future firstly because the younger generation, those that are most affected, are not only taking the climate crisis seriously, but they are taking the initiative, and doing something to make those in power listen. Secondly, and I believe because of the stand that young people have taken, more people are beginning to take more responsibility for their own actions: changing diets; changing the way/ amount they travel; switching to renewable energy suppliers; reducing waste. These are reasons to be optimistic.

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Laura Owen Sanderson


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