As climate change is such a massive global challenge, can a small country like Wales make a difference?
Wales helped to change the world in the past when Welsh coal took a leading role in powering the industrial revolution. Today, we can make a contribution to changing the future by harnessing our abundant sources of renewable energy, improving energy efficiency and reducing waste. As well as cutting climate-changing emissions, such actions will enable Wales to benefit from the rapidly growing global green economy.
The Welsh Government has made a political commitment to reduce our global environmental footprint and to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2020. We all need to pressurise the government to ensure it delivers on this promise.
Climate change impacts
Human activities are changing the composition of our atmosphere and of the oceans. There is a high risk that climate change could lead to major and irreversible changes in the planet's natural cycles.
Since the Industrial Revolution, almost the entire globe has warmed, including the land surface, oceans and atmosphere, while the extent of snow and ice cover has also decreased and sea level has risen. Global average surface temperature has increased by 0.85°C since 1880, the world’s glaciers are losing about 275 billion tonnes of ice per year, and global sea level has increased by about 19 cm since 1901.[Recent and future changes in the global and UK climate: Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, October 2013] http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/Policy/briefs/2013.aspx
Arctic sea ice has declined, http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ on average, between 1978 and 2013 by 3.5% per decade or 46,500 square kilometers per year.
Global food prices are increasing http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12638085, in part because the changing global climate is exacerbating droughts and poor harvests http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/communications/wfp227909.pdf in food-producing areas.
The climate is changing here in Wales, and its effects are already being felt. Already average temperatures are more than 1°C higher here than100 years ago, and average annual rainfall has been increasing since about 1970.
Rising sea levels, combined with greater frequency and higher intensity of storms, are increasing the risk of flooding. There was evidence of this in January 2013 with significant flooding and storm damage in some Pembrokeshire coastal villages, such as Amroth and Newgale, and on the seafront at Aberystwyth.
We can tackle climate change, but we need decisive action from governments and industry. And we need it now.
Why are people so resistant to this message, Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes has studied this vexed question
We need to produce huge amounts of zero-carbon energy, live in well-insulated homes, use sustainable forms of transport, and minimise the waste we produce through more efficient use of resources.
These solutions would also mean better, healthier lives and a fairer society. And leading the green economy revolution would provide tens of thousands of jobs throughout Wales.