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As climate change is such a massive global challenge, can a small country like Wales make a difference?
Wales changed the world in the past, and we can make a big contribution to changing the future. Welsh coal powered the industrial revolution. Now we could lead the renewable energy revolution, show the way in tackling climate change, and benefit from the rapidly growing global green economy.
Our renewable energy resources are among the best in Europe, and we have an agricultural tradition of relatively responsible farming. Perhaps most importantly, we have strong political commitment to reducing our global environmental footprint and to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.
Climate change impacts
Human activities are changing the chemical composition of our atmosphere and of the oceans. There is a high risk that climate change could lead to major and irreversible changes in the planet's natural cycles.
There was less summer Arctic sea ice in September 2011 than there has been in the previous 8,000 years. Global food prices are increasing, in part because the changing global climate is exacerbating droughts and poor harvests in food-producing areas.
The climate is changing here in Wales, and its effects are already being felt. There is now a quarter less summer rain than there was 100 years ago, with a further 15% reduction highly likely by the middle of the century.
These rising temperatures are changing habitats in Wales, and affecting plants and wildlife. The Snowdon lily is just one of many unique and important species that is threatened.
Rising sea levels, combined with greater frequency and higher intensity of storms, are increasing the risk of flooding. There will be more extreme weather events in Wales, costing us money and affecting our health and livelihoods.
We can tackle climate change, but we need decisive action from governments and industry. And we need it now.
These solutions would also mean better, healthier lives and a fairer society. And leading the green economy revolution would provide tens of thousands of jobs throughout Wales.
© Nick Russill