Swansea academics are playing a key role in exploring how Wales can speed up its transition to net zero and help amend its target to 2035 from 2050.
And now they want to hear from public with their views, ideas and experiences to help them tackle the major challenges facing Welsh policymakers.
Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru set up the independent Wales Net Zero 2035 Challenge Group as concern over the climate crisis grows. The group aims to explore ways to accelerate the delivery of Wales’ climate change commitments, addressing the challenges facing Wales such as food and energy security, rural livelihoods and economic opportunities.
The group, led by former Environment Minister Jane Davidson, is made up of 25 independent, unpaid members. These include Professor Gavin Bunting, Chair of Circular Economy Research and Innovation Group Wales, environmental law specialist Professor Karen Morrow, and Dr Jennifer Rudd, senior lecturer in sustainability, who bring expertise from across the university, reflecting the group’s interdisciplinary approach.
Professor Bunting, from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said he was delighted to be part of the group: “The group recognises the importance of circular economy in reducing emissions - only 7.2 per cent of the 100 plus billion tonnes/year of materials extracted are reused. Embedding circular economy and doubling this circularity rate, through processes such as lifetime extension, material efficiency, and reusable components, has the potential to reduce emissions by 39 per cent.
“My ambition for the group is to inspire transformative change, which embraces the Wellbeing for Future Generations Act, to deliver a sustainable and just transition. Wales, once again, can lead the way and demonstrate what can be achieved when there is real commitment and strong ambition.”
Professor Morrow, from the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, said: “The appeal of this group is that it grasps the importance of building law into Net Zero work from the outset. By viewing climate change as comprising not just scientific, technical, and economic issues, but also social concerns, the group is taking a real-world approach to the very real climate challenges we face in Wales.
“Considering justice, equity, and practical legal considerations plays a crucial part in an approach that looks broadly at the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘why’ as integral to developing effective plans, laws, policies, and actions at speed to enable Wales to respond to the many complex challenges posed by global heating.”
Dr Rudd, from the School of Management, said: “We are becoming more aware of the climate crisis and what it means for us, but societal, political and economic inertia prevails. The WNZCG exists to imagine the future by pushing the art of the possible.
“A group of bold thinkers, we aim to deliver recommendations to Welsh Government that will fundamentally change how we view our future, hopefully with ripple effects around the world. By hypothetically bringing forward the net zero target to 2035 we hope to ignite a flame of hope amongst the Welsh population and the Welsh government that net zero is not only well within our reach but will bring us a bright and bold future."
Now the group wants communities from across Wales and the world to share their experiences and ideas about tackling a series of key challenges. Feedback is welcome until June 28 on the first of these How could Wales feed itself by 2035?
The other Net Zero 2035 Challenges the group will be examining are:
- How could Wales meet energy needs by 2035 whilst phasing out fossil fuels?
- How could Wales heat and build homes and workplaces by 2035?
- How could people and places be connected across Wales by 2035?
- What could education, jobs and work, look like across Wales by 2035?
The launch dates for these will be announced in due course and the group’s work is scheduled to run until summer 2024.