Over the next two weeks, the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow; on the true scale of both the climate and nature emergencies facing our planet, and to the challenge facing world leaders who will be judged by future generations on their action – or inaction.

Latest scientific evidence confirms that we are likely to reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030 if we don’t take urgent action.

The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record.

READ MORE: What is Cop26 and what does it mean for Wales?

Thousands of species are at risk of extinction due to climate change and human activity.

And this fortnight, COP26 marks a decisive moment when we can ramp up ambition and keep 1.5°C within reach. 

This really is the last opportunity to change the course of climate change.

If COP26 is to succeed, communities must be empowered to take climate action.

But the UK, the state host of the summit, doesn’t seem to be on track to meet its target.

According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the Westminster government has failed to come forward with policies to meet the ambition of its climate goals.

The Climate Change Committee published two progress reports in June, showing the UK was behind on its key goal of 78% cuts to greenhouse gases by 2035.

So far, Westminster’s net zero strategy has been undermined by the Treasury’s refusal to allocate adequate funding to realise this ambition. Laudable ambitions on renewable electricity generation, decarbonising household heating, and on reducing the carbon footprint of our transport sector are doomed to fail without the right financial backing.

The National Wales: Sir David Attenborough has asked for ‘bold action’ to help save the planet ahead of Cop26. Photo: PASir David Attenborough has asked for ‘bold action’ to help save the planet ahead of Cop26. Photo: PA

Even this week, instead of prioritising investment in rail transport infrastructure, the Chancellor decided to incentivise people to take short-haul domestic flights – setting an incredibly poor international example suggesting that the Conservatives see this as an opportunity for champagne receptions rather than a summit of substance.

Absent too was any mention of home insulation – which in Wales would require £360m of annual funding from the UK Government if we are to address the climate crisis.

And that is symbolic of another truth: that Wales’ ability to fully respond to the crisis depends on bringing economic levers and powers over energy home to our Senedd.

Because the climate emergency is already hitting Welsh communities hard.

All over Wales, homes and businesses have been ruined by horrific floods.

Wildfires and droughts have become commonplace all over the world, and temperatures are rising just like the seas at our feet.  

Climate action is no longer a choice – it is a necessity.

READ MORE: 'COP26 is the watershed moment to get a grip'

And that means repairing and preventing the damage to vulnerable communities. It means radically increasing investment in flood defences, air pollution reduction, installing heat pumps and insulating the damp and cold homes that make Welsh heating bills among the most expensive in Europe. 

It means setting achievable recycling targets to ensure zero waste goes to landfill and banning non-essential single-use plastics.

It means making Wales a deforestation-free nation.

It means introducing a Nature Act to set a statutory duty and targets to restore biodiversity on both land and sea.

It means introducing a Clean Air Act for Wales to protect, in law, the health of our citizens and our ecosystems from pollutants in our atmosphere.

It means ensuring that Wales meets all its energy demand entirely from renewables by 2035 – alongside reaching net zero carbon emissions.

Climate justice also means ensuring that no-one is left behind by the transition. History will not forgive our generation if we see a repeat of the scorched earth policy inflicted by Thatcher on Welsh industrial communities in the 1980s. Reskilling workers in high carbon industries to the industries of the future must happen now, and on a huge scale. 

To be serious about climate change we must also tackle it across multiple areas, embedding it at the heart of decision-making at all government departments. Governments must be able to prove to citizens that their policies - from transport and energy to health and education, are designed through a climate lens, and fulfil their responsibilities to future generations. 

These are all achievable ambitions for the Welsh Government.

But Wales could go so much further.

One measure which could fully realise Wales’s energy potential includes the devolution of the prime asset, the Crown Estate, which would allow us to steer the development of our large offshore wind energy resource and associated green hydrogen production.

The National Wales: Cop26 is taking place in Glasgow. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PACop26 is taking place in Glasgow. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA

Devolving the Crown Estate would not only boost the Welsh economy, but provide us with better control over the resources – like tidal power - that will be crucial for us to tackle and fight back against the climate emergency.

The value of the Crown Estate’s renewable assets in Wales grew from £49.2m in 2020 to £549.1m in 2021.

Wales’ offshore renewable energy assets offer a historic opportunity for the Welsh economy and devolving management of the Crown Estate would ensure that the people of Wales benefit directly from the green transition.

The resources of Wales, should be governed by the Government of Wales, for the people of Wales. It’s as simple as that.

We must all recognise Wales’s historical and current role in global climate change and biodiversity decline, but it is the Welsh Government that must act on behalf of Wales and its people, so we can play our part in global efforts to avert disaster.

If COP26 is to lead to real action, all governments must be empowered to tackle the crisis head on. The Welsh Government currently lacks the economic levers to tackle the crisis with the urgency needed. Empowering our government with borrowing powers is essential to ensure Wales can play a leading role in the green transition. And by devolving powers over the Crown Estate and the devolution of energy powers, we can ensure that it is the people of Wales who benefit from this historic opportunity to create a greener future. 

Delyth Jewell is a Senedd Member for South Wales East.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.