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Why does Wales matter to action for climate, nature and social justice

4 October, 2023

Here are some of the reasons why investing fairly in Wales is both inclusive and high-impact.

Politics 

  • Wales has a progressive government, which is willing to act: The Climate Cymru movement has repeatedly demonstrated our ability to have a disproportionately large amount of real-world change and impact
  • Decision-makers are accessible: Elsewhere, campaigners spend much of their time in and resources attempting to get their message through to a key decision-maker. In Wales (especially through Climate Cymru with hundreds of organisations as partners) we can simply ask for a meeting, or have regular, productive email exchanges with key decision-makers. Even Welsh MPs are more accessible to a Welsh movement, as they welcome Wales-specific perspectives.
  • Welsh politicians can influence a potential future UK Government: 18 of the 20 Labour MPs in Wales are part of the Labour shadow cabinet in Westminster.
  • An ecosystem of progressive pressure: The Welsh government contributes to an ecosystem of progressive climate political pressure on the UK government and other substate regions around the world, stepping up faster than their national governments. 
  • Wales has important battleground constituencies in the upcoming general election. With new boundaries, and significant swings in political polling since the last general election, a number of Welsh seats are set to be battleground constituencies.
  • Wales’s devolved context requires a Wales-specific climate movement. UK-wide or “England and Wales”  initiatives and mandates mean that many announcements, campaigns and activities are irrelevant to Wales. UK-wide organisations rarely modify their strategies based on the devolved context. A Wales-specific climate movement, relevant to the people of Wales, is critical for the buy in of the Welsh public, and is a mechanism to collaborate effectively with other home nations, UK-wide campaigns and organisations. 

Emissions reduction

  • Wales is a potential renewable energy superpower. It has an enormous potential pipeline of clean energy, with a potential 24 gigawatts of offshore wind in the Celtic Sea alone. Wales already exports twice as much electricity as it uses, in European terms, no other nation comes close to that ratio.
  • Wales has some of the U.K.’s highest emitting industries: Much of the UK’s remaining coal extraction and steel production is in Wales. This requires specialist, targeted community engagement and campaigning.

Diversity and Inclusivity 

  • Complementing, amplifying, and accelerating U.K. civil society’s critical work: having Welsh organisations and individuals as part of a UK-wide movement for change, adds diversity, and power to that collective voice that wouldn’t have been possible to mobilise from Westminster.
  • Diversity in Welsh Context: Wales has some of the worst quality housing stock in Western Europe, is higher on the deprivation index than the rest of the UK but is often overlooked when it comes to funding. Councils have much lower revenue and budgets.
  • Language: Wales has its own language, and Welsh language communities are also many of the highest on the deprivation index in the UK. England and Wales projects, or UK-wide, almost always mean they will be English only, and leave Welsh Language speakers, out of the conversation for climate, nature and social justice  

Policy innovation – Leading the rest of the UK, and Inspiring the world 

  • “We hope that what Wales is doing today, the world will do tomorrow” (United nations): Wales has a track record of groundbreaking policy innovation, that gets replicated elsewhere. The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, a world first in Wales, has since been adopted by the UN and is in process in a number of other countries around the world. The single-use plastic bag carrier charge was also a Welsh policy innovation, campaigned for in Wales, adopted and replicated elsewhere in the UK and other places around the world.
  • Local to global innovation: Wales is nimble and able to lead the way. Race to Zero Cymru Is an innovation based on a global campaign, with the idea of having an entire society, at all levels of government, on a shared pathway of climate ambition. Transformative for Wales, and replicable everywhere.
  • Funding 
    • The collapse of the EU funding – used to fund almost half of Welsh civil society, has left an enormous hole. Nothing meaningful has replaced that funding, long-established organisations are closing, and jobs are being lost across the sector. 
    • Pro rata funding allocation based on population does not match the comparative work: Allocating a budget for the Welsh arm of organisations, or for the Welsh share of funding pro rata based on the population of Wales vs. the UK, is common practice and on the face of it, seems fair. The reality of the work that needs to be done, however, does not scale in the same way. Welsh civil society must follow Westminster politics, just as others in the UK must, with the added complication of deciphering what is reserved, and what is devolved. Welsh Civil society also needs to follow politics at a devolved level and does not have a wider, well-funded civil society to support with specialist knowledge. Additional complications are operating bilingually, losing talent to UK-wide organisations who have the pro-rata funds to pay better wages and less money in Welsh society generally limits alternate funding options.
    • Filling a vacuum, rather than muscling into a crowded room: A single dedicated climate change policy advisor would be a total step change in policy capacity in Welsh civil society, where there are no dedicated policy specialists, and unlock disproportionally large amounts of impact, particularly at the heart of the Climate Cymru network. One extra staff member on an equivalent salary at a UK level is unlikely to make a step-change difference and may end up overlapping with work done in other organisations. 

The Climate Cymru movement 

  • The breadth and diversity of the movement offer a unique, exponential potential value – a single staff member, sitting at the centre of a web of many hundreds of organisations, has the potential to unlock disproportionately large public engagement and action.
  • Additional value for partner projects – Being a part of this wider movement also adds value to funding allocated to Climate Cymru partners by providing a platform and connection to hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals all over Wales, as well as a bridge to decision-makers, the other home nations and UK wide civil society.

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