After presenting at the Renew Wales Awards last week, Paul Allen is looking forward to a clean, green future for Wales.
Since it opened in 2006, I have made many visits to the Senedd, home of the National Assembly for Wales’ Siambr (debating chamber). We have launched Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) reports, attended the climate commission and met with elected officials. Whilst I have always enjoyed my visits, and have always felt Welsh Government were listening, somehow this visit seemed different – my perspectives had shifted.
The first part of that shift began on 28th September, when I heard that the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths had announced ambitious new targets for electricity generation in Wales. For the first time, Welsh Government targets for electricity generation are moving into line with the levels of ambition required to deliver the Paris Agreement on climate change. Welsh Government now clearly sees that Wales’ ability to meet our needs from clean energy is a corner stone of a prosperous zero carbon 2050 economy. Let’s hope this ambition quickly extends into transport, housing and diets and land-use.
We now have a target of Wales generating 70 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2030, with one Gigawatt of that to be locally owned. Also by 2020, all new renewable energy projects must have at least an element of local ownership. It felt really uplifting to be in the headquarters of a government that clearly recognises that the bulk of our future energy supply must come from wind and solar, which are clearly going to be the most cost-effective technologies. They also recognise that these technologies need a route to market – the Welsh Government has called repeatedly on the UK Government to end their exclusion of them.
But the second reason why this visit seemed different was that I had been booked to present our Zero Carbon Britain work at a very special event where Lesley Griffiths would be giving awards to a wide range of community projects that bring to life the ZCB vision.
Titled “Inspire…. Believe…. Achieve,” the first ever Renew Wales Awards was a celebration of the innovative community projects developed across Wales over the past five years. Supported by Welsh Government and the National Lottery, a group of community practitioners established Renew Wales to support community groups in developing practical projects which tackle climate change at grass roots level, offering peer to peer advice, training, mentoring and technical support from other experienced practitioners.
The event was well attended and also included an exhibition that enabled people to meet some of the shortlisted projects and find out more about them. Awards included Enterprising Action on Climate Change, the Best Example of Community Collaboration, but I particularly liked the Against All Odds award for the best example of determination to tackle climate change locally.
It was an honour to be invited to present Zero Carbon Britain at such an event, and it stimulated some powerful questions and reflections around scaling up these good examples. Being there gave me a renewed sense of optimism – not only do we have a government in Wales that clearly gets the urgency of climate action, we had a Senedd filled with practical projects that bring the Zero Carbon Britain vision to life and showcase what communities can achieve.
Da iawn Cymru!