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Act on climate change call to Welsh Assembly
Ymddiheuriadau. Dim ond yn Saesneg mae rhai o ddatganiadau i'r wasg Cyfeillion y Ddaear Cymru ar hyn o bryd. Gellir cynnal cyfweliadau gyda'r wasg yn y Gymraeg neu'r Saesneg.
Act on climate change call to Welsh Assembly
The crises of climate change requires more action by the Welsh Assembly, according to a leading environmental organisation.
Friends of the Earth Cymru has written to Assembly Members in support of a motion calling for the Assembly Government to "accelerate those aspects of its policy which can lead to a reduction in carbon emissions" and has listed a series of specific recommendations about how this should be done.
The motion, which is being proposed by Plaid Cymru AM Jocelyn Davies with supporting amendments from Kirsty Williams, will be debated at the Assembly's plenary session this afternoon.
In the letter, Friends of the Earth Cymru point out that scientific evidence is increasingly showing that human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels to provide energy, is having a serious impact on the climate. The group warns that recent research indicates that the problem is more critical than previously considered.
They claim that measures that have been introduced so far fall well short of what is required to significantly reduce the emission of climate changing gases and point to last week's report by the International Climate Change Taskforce that the world only has around ten years in which to avert catastrophic climate change.
Friends of the Earth Cymru's Assembly Campaigner, Gordon James, said:
" Emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, are now at similar levels in the UK as when the present government came to power in 1997. In Wales, there was an overall increase in emissions between 1990 and 2000 and there has a slight reduction since then.
While the growing awareness of environmental issues at the Welsh Assembly is very welcome, this has not been translated into practices that adequately recognise or address the impending crises of a rapidly changing climate. In fact, many of the Welsh Assembly Government's policies are little more than 'business as usual' with a few green edges added.
The recently announced transport review, for instance, amounts to a road builder's charter that will inevitably result in an increase in road traffic and greenhouse gas emissions. The energy efficiency action plan is an extremely weak document that is very unlikely to have much impact on the growing demand for energy.
The Assembly Government is welcoming the development of a large new fossil fuel industry at Milford Haven that will further increase the growing emissions of carbon dioxide from energy industries in Wales. Other than the Assembly Government's support for significant increases in the generation of electricity from renewable sources, there is little evidence that it is taking climate change seriously ."
The environmental organisation is calling on the Assembly Government to support a number of measures that would more adequately address the problem of climate change.
Gordon James continued:
"In view of the latest scientific evidence, there ought to be another study, updating the 'Wales: Changing Climate, Challenging Choices' report of May 2000, in order to more accurately assess the likely impact of climate change on Wales this century and to outline appropriate responses to the crises.
Greater awareness needs to be created, within the Assembly, public bodies, the business community and the general public, of the problem and of the means of reducing its impact. A major communications programme should be implemented. The current advertising campaign to encourage recycling and waste reduction is an excellent example of what could be done.
The energy efficiency action plan needs to be revisited and replaced with a policy that, for example, sets targets for energy use reduction, increases funding for energy saving measures such as the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme and provides greater support for organisations around Wales that are improving energy efficiency in the community.
>Efficiency in the power sector would be dealt a serious blow if proposals for two huge 2GW gas-fired CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) power stations (in Milford Haven and near Amlwch, Anglesey) went ahead. Each of these schemes would waste more heat (over 1,000 MW) than the average output of the Wylfa and Trawsfynydd nuclear power stations combined (960MW). Far smaller and more efficient CHP (combined heat and power) schemes would be appropriate.
The budget for major road building should be cut with the money saved being diverted towards significant improvements in public transport, cycling and walking. One example would be to scrap plans to build a Gwent Levels motorway and to invest heavily in public transport in south east Wales. An investigation should also be undertaken into the possibility of introducing self-powered trams in Cardiff, extending into the valleys, eastwards to Newport and westwards to Swansea and utilising existing and disused rail routes. Self-powered trams are far cheaper than systems currently seen in UK cities and are very energy efficient.
Although we welcome the Welsh Assembly Government's benchmark to generate about 20% of Welsh electricity demand from renewable sources by 2010, we are disappointed that it has been conspicuously slow in taking up the tidal lagoon proposals for Swansea Bay. A report by consultant engineers WS Atkins has concluded that the 60MW Swansea lagoon is technically and economically feasible and would generate electricity at just over 3p per kW hour. Much larger schemes in the Severn Estuary could generate up to 2.75 GW or 6% UK electricity demand. It is estimated that larger lagoons could generate electricity at a highly competitive price of about 2.5p per kWh.
We would also like to see the Assembly establish a Climate Change Unit to give the issue a far higher profile and to co-ordinate responses within Wales. We shall be providing the Assembly with more detailed information about this proposal in the near future.
We believe that the severity of the threat posed by climate change can only be adequately addressed by radical measures that will significantly reduce our use of fossil fuels in the near future. Implementing these would place Wales at the forefront of developments in clean and energy efficient technologies providing economic opportunities as well as social and environmental benefits. "