Poorer and marginalised communities in Wales most likely to be hit by climate disasters, report finds
Poor and marginalised communities in Wales are most likely to be hit by climate disasters such as flooding, a new report has found.
The report, Inequality in a Future Wales, has been published by the future generations commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, Public Health Wales and Cardiff University
The report says that while their homes and livelihoods are most at risk from extreme weather events, people from the most deprived areas are least responsible for the crisis.
Furthermore, it argues that measures to tackle the climate emergency, such as reducing the number of cars on the roads, are likely to make life more difficult for poorer people in remote locations who can’t get access to public transport.
Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, said: “Climate change is an equality issue and this report finds that the link has so far been overlooked in Wales – we must reinvent policies to address the disadvantages to those who are most vulnerable.
“People in our poorest communities, many of those who’ve been hit hardest by Covid-19, are least able to afford insurance and the cost of putting things right after floods and that’s drastically unfair, as is the fact that if you’re Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic, you’re more likely to be at risk here and in other parts of the world.
“You’re also less likely to be in positions to take advantage of the new high-quality jobs that we will need to address climate change and we need to put that right.
“With flooding occurring more and more often, we need a plan to ensure the financial burden doesn’t fall on those least able to pay – and an agreed Wales-wide approach to ensuring public services are able to respond in the right way.
“The Well-being of Future Generations Act says that by law, the way we get to net zero has to improve well-being as a whole, for everyone.
“Public bodies and decision-makers must take action now to stop those affected by the devastating effects of climate change being disadvantaged for generations.”
To coincide with the report, Taylor Edmonds, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales’ Poet in Residence, collaborated with people in Llanrwst in the Conwy Valley, which has suffered extensive flooding over the past few years.
In the poem, Emerging from Winter, members of Llanrwst Flood Action Group speak of being ‘dragged from our beds at 3am to fill sandbags’ and question what kind of future their great grandchildren face.
Local schoolchildren at Ysgol Bro Gwydir recorded readings of the poem for the video. Taylor, 26, will be reading the poem at a march through Cardiff this Saturday (November 6) organised by COP 26 Cardiff Coalition.
Action on the report’s findings should include decision-makers integrating equality into policy development across the board, as is set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act, say its authors.
People who have experienced the results of climate change, should be involved, via ways such as citizens’ assemblies.
Sumina Azam, Consultant in Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales, said:
“To create the future Wales we want, no one can be left behind. This means recognising that many of the future challenges we face raise issues for equality but that by making good choices we can create a more equal Wales.
“We know that those hardest hit by climate change are those who are already the most vulnerable. As we prepare for and respond to climate change, we must always be thinking about how our decisions impact on everyone in society in the short and long-term as well as future generations.
“Good health and well-being for everyone in Wales is a future we can create if we work together. We hope this report motivates us all to think beyond a ‘business as usual’ approach as we tackle the coming changes to our population, climate and world of work.”