The Welsh Government must show ambition if the nation is to play its part in preventing environmental catastrophe, campaigners have warned in response to the UN's new report on the global climate crisis.

An international group of scientists (the IPCC) has warned, in no uncertain terms, that humans are having an "unequivocal" impact on our planet and its climate.

In a grim forecast for the coming decades, they say a failure to curb greenhouse gas emission will force the Earth's temperatures to continue upwards, leading to more droughts and heatwaves, heavier rainfall, and sea ice-free Arctic summers.

The UN's secretary-general has called it a "code red" moment for humanity, and the pressure is now on world leaders to take more action to cut emissions and deforestation in the run up to the international climate conference, titled COP26, in Glasgow in November.

Here in Wales, climate change minister Julie James said "the alarm bell has been rung" by the report's authors.

"Climate change is not something to deal with in the distant future- it is here, it is happening now, and it has undoubtedly been caused by us," she said. "Without hesitation, the world must act and respond to the science."


The Welsh Government announced a new climate super-ministry shortly after May's Senedd election, with James and her deputy minister, Lee Waters, charged with taking a broader approach to decision-making that integrated areas like transport and housing under the environmental brief.

Today, following the UN report, James highlighted the Welsh Government's pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and called on other nations to set their own "ambitious" targets in time for the Glasgow conference.

“In Wales, net zero targets have already been set in law," she added. "We will now continue to work with the nation in a Team Wales effort to make the changes needed to reach these goals.”

Haf Elgar, the director of environmental group Friends of the Earth Cymru, warned that the "devastating" extreme weather and flooding seen in Wales in the past few years would "become more frequent and intense" if the UN's report was not followed by government action.

She described today's report as "a big wake up call– if we want a habitable planet, the window is just about still open".

"Every fraction of a degree now matters more than ever," she added.

Asked what government should be doing here, Elgar said Westminster must stop supporting fossil fuel projects and "high-carbon infrastructure" like roads and airports.

"They can start by cancelling the Cambo oil field in Scotland and scrapping the coal mine in Cumbria," she added.

Elgar said the Welsh Government, with its new climate ministry, would be "better-placed to take the necessary action" to cut emissions, and praised the moratorium on new road-building projects that Waters announced in June.

"The freeze on new roads shows that it can make bold decisions," Elgar told The National, noting that the Welsh Government intends to publish a new carbon plan for dealing with emissions before the Glasgow conference in the autumn.

"This plan must be ambitious to reflect the urgency set out by the IPCC report,” she added.

While the immediate symptoms of climate change – destruction of tropical rainforests, loss of polar ice – may feel like a world away from Wales, another environmental group argues we should all think more about how our own consumer habits drive forward the corporations responsible.

Size of Wales is campaigning for a 'deforestation-free nation' that would disassociate itself from the products and commodities that fuel climate emergencies like the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

The group said the report "largely confirms what we've known for some time" but "it is nevertheless alarming to see the impacts of human activity, such as emissions driven by consumerism, presented so clearly together". 

"There is no route to meeting global carbon reduction targets without stopping tropical deforestation, which both emits greenhouse gasses and reduces the Earth's ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere," said the group's policy and education manager, Kevin Rahman-Daultrey. "We believe Wales can make history and set an important example for the world to follow by making this commitment."

Beyond climate targets and emissions, Rahman-Daultrey said today's report should also encourage governments to protect the indigenous people who live in, and serve as "guardians" of, the world's rainforests.

"If we are serious about tackling climate change, indigenous people need to be at the forefront of our response," he told The National. "However, at the moment, they are risking their lives to protect their forests. This needs to end."

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