'Climate emergency' vote backed by Welsh Assembly

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Cyclists on Newport RoadImage source, Andrew Mabey
Image caption,
A climate protest took place in Cardiff last week

Assembly members voted to declare a "climate emergency" on Wednesday, with opposition AMs demanding action on the environment from ministers.

The vote by AMs follows protests around the world.

Plaid Cymru welcomed the Welsh Government's decision to make such a declaration earlier in the week, but said ministers could not simply rebrand existing policies.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths promised to review their climate plans.

She and Plaid said the vote - backed by 38 AMs, versus two against and with 12 abstentions - made the assembly the first parliament in the world to vote to declare a climate emergency.

The environment spokesman for Plaid Cymru, who led Wednesday's debate, said the Welsh Government's declaration could not be "some sort of headline-grabbing grandstanding".

Llyr Gruffydd said the vast majority of pledges in a recent low carbon-Wales paper from the Welsh Government "already exist in different government departments".

"If you look at it closely, of course, a lot of the commitments start with: 'We will consult on', 'We will consider', 'We will start to explore' this, that and the other," he said. "The government's narrative around climate change really has to fundamentally change."

'Capable of delivering change'

Tory environment spokesman Andrew RT Davies claimed Wales' was "not achieving the same success as other parts of the United Kingdom".

While the UK had seen emissions fall by 40% between 1990 and 2015, he said, Wales only saw a "19% reduction in the same period".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Protesters have been calling for politicians to declare a climate emergency

But climate change-sceptic UKIP AM Neil Hamilton said: "Whatever we do in this country is going to be swamped by the reality of what's happening in the far east."

Lesley Griffiths argued that while Wales is only responsible for a tiny fraction of the world's emissions, "it is the view of this Welsh Government that we are capable as a nation of delivering change here in a way that will reduce our impact on the environment".

"The seed of our response to the climate emergency is contained in the 100 policies and proposals in the low-carbon delivery plan, but after receiving our advisory body's.... advice tomorrow, I will review these," she added.