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‘Crunch time’: First Minister catches train to COP with warning about the need for action

01 Nov 2021 4 minute read
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government

The First Minister will be travelling by train to the COP UN climate change conference in Glasgow today to meet other world leaders, with a warning that it is now “crunch time” when they must act to stop climate change.

Mark Drakeford pointed to the record of his own government in Wales, saying that it was the first in the world to declare a climate emergency in April 2019.

The COP (conference of parties) summit is attempting to produce a plan to reduce global carbon emissions to levels that would limit global warming within this century to 1.5℃.

As this stand, the carbon-reducing plans set out by the world leaders aren’t enough to meet the 1.5℃ target of the Paris agreement set at the 2016 COP.

The current plans would lead to a catastrophic global temperature increase of 2.4℃, which would cause a big increase in heat waves, food and water shortages, and a rise in sea levels.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “This is crunch time for us all. We’re embarking on a decade of real action in Wales. As we’ve shown with our world-leading recycling rates, doing the small things in our everyday lives really can and does make a difference.

“But we need to do much more over the coming 10 years, than we have in the last 30, to reach our net zero target. To achieve this, we need everyone to pull together – we need everyone to play their part.

“By working together and taking collective action we can deliver a stronger, fairer and greener Wales for future generations.

“In Glasgow, at the COP26 conference, we will show that Wales is ready to play its part. I’m also looking forward to using the conference as an opportunity to learn from others.”


Mark Drakeford said that smaller countries, like Wales, could achieve great things when everyone works together.

He said that Wales punches well above its weight in terms of recycling and proudly holds the position of the best country for household recycling in the UK, the second-best in Europe and third-best in the world.

Other steps taken include:

  • Published a net zero plan, setting out a decade of action to tackle the climate crisis.
  • Started a roads review into new road projects in Wales, recognising the need to move away from spending money on projects that encourage more people to drive, instead redirecting funding towards maintaining existing roads and investing in real alternatives to private transport, such as public and active transport.
  • Committed to build 20,000 high quality, low carbon homes for rent over the next five years.

Opposition parties have however criticised the Welsh Government’s record on climate change, with Plaid Cymru saying last month that there had been a lack of urgency since the crisis was announced.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Climate Change and Energy, Delyth Jewell MS, said: “In declaring an emergency, immediate action should follow – that’s how an emergency is defined. Welsh Government should be doing everything in its power to address these intertwined emergencies – nature and climate.

“Time and time again, we’ve called for binding nature recovery targets – in setting targets, this will guide investment, delivery and monitoring. There is much that can be done to upskill our workforce to deliver green jobs with green outcomes, and much to be done to develop our grid, energy projects and ports.

“And where Welsh Government does not hold the power – such as management of the Crown Estate and its assets in Wales – this should be sought from Westminster. Quite simply, the resources of Wales, should be governed by the Government of Wales, for the people of Wales.

“In the way that nature and climate is intertwined, so it follows that the causes of these two crises are interwoven, and it must be that the solution addresses both. So far, the response from Welsh Government has been more than lacking.”

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Peter Collins
Peter Collins
2 years ago

Perhaps the First Minister could have chosen the even more environmentally friendly option and cycled to Glasgow. Depending on his fitness level and prevailing wind direction he might have beaten the train which takes more than seven. hours. He would also have avoided the excessive train fare (nearly £200 Standard Class and more than £400 First Class).

2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Collins

Better still, stay away from the event or participate by Zoom link or some other conference technology. Instead we get 000’s of hot air merchants trooping into Glasgow to engage in mass virtue signalling and expensive guzzling of free food and booze. They would be far better engaged in staying home and getting down to the serious business of working out ways and means of securing some real solutions to our problems. I get the feeling right now that ordinary people are going to pay a hell of a price while all these jokers carry on pontificating and enjoying the… Read more »

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
2 years ago

Wales is years ahead of England so rather than knock Labour, Plaid should be supporting them in seeking to take over Crown Estates and other natural resources like the Wales Water Strategy. WHQS came about in 2002, long before the climate declaration, and is now building social homes to Passivhaus standards some with Air Source Heat Pumps, solar PV and all with very high insulation levels. Much more does need to be done but knocking what has already been achieved is a disincentive to do it better. Wales leads the way and that should encourage us all to play a… Read more »

Dale McElwee
2 years ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Crown Estates is Liz Saville Roberts’ private members’ bill.

It gets a reading and vote in parliament.

Dale McElwee
2 years ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

The Crown Estates is Liz Saville Roberts’ private members’ bill.

Philip Jones
Philip Jones
2 years ago

Hope he gets the chance to have a chat with Nicola and give her our love, and avoids Bunter

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