Climate change: time to do as much in one decade as we’ve done in three

Climate change: time to do as much in one decade as we’ve done in three

The climate is changing and so must we.

Statistics show that the UK has already made real progress in reducing our detrimental impact on the environment. We’ve seen emissions drop by 30 per cent over the past 30 years – but now both Welsh and UK Governments are encouraging us to do the same again – but this time, in 10 years.

This bold action is, of course, going to have to be a joint effort.  While many individuals are trying to reduce, recycle and re-use to lessen our own personal carbon footprint – there’s no question that at least equal, if not more, responsibility lies with the working world.

To help commercial and industrial Wales take stock of where it is and where it’s going with its environmental conscience, the Welsh Government is seizing the initiative by creating a series of high-profile events to coincide with COP26 – the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow next month.

The purpose of the events in Wales, which run through October and November and include Wales Climate Week (22-26 November), is to provide an opportunity for politicians, business leaders, environmental groups and the public to engage in important conversations about climate change. The events will explore the vision and mission to make the 2020s a ‘decade of climate action’ and lay the foundation for a Net Zero Wales – the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

But while the science makes for sobering reading, and the targets set by the Senedd are ambitious, this should be seen as an opportunity, as well as a challenge. With large-scale decarbonisation and other efforts to reach net zero, businesses – old and new – will be able to make the most of new skilled jobs, new export opportunities and other benefits that come from a low carbon economy.

That is why it’s vital that ministers use this opportunity to persuade key decision-makers within our biggest emitters to commit to the national mission and share responsibility for achieving it.

It’s also imperative that we all understand the importance of the next decade, learn from international best practice and grasp the opportunity to use the recovery from the COVID pandemic to look for innovative solutions that bring wider benefits, at the same time as tackling climate change.

Without question, it’s a nationwide conversation and a collective responsibility. The more of us who take part, the more we impact we’ll have. This time, the stakes are so high that no-one can be left behind, and we all have an important part to play.

While the most important conversations and decisions are often the hardest, there’s no opting out of this one. Climate change affects us all and, like the pandemic, until we are all safe, no-one is safe.

A willingness to engage and understand is the starting point for many of us in business across Wales, and I don’t think we should be embarrassed if we are relative newcomers to the table. It’s time for all of us in business to share the responsibility to get informed and involved.

A good starting point will be to read the Net Zero Wales Plan. It’s a five-year action plan that charts the next phase of Wales’s journey to net zero and includes the latest emissions figures for different industry sectors, set alongside the likely policies, proposals and collective action that will drive the changes that need to be made. The plan gets its official launch at an online event on 28 October, which marks the start of COP Cymru, and another opportunity for Wales to push forward in our collective action on climate change.

Achieving net zero won’t be without its challenges, but if we work together as a team towards this shared vision, it will make the mission much more manageable.

Freshwater is working alongside the Welsh Government, helping to organise COP Cymru. For more information about the events, please visit


This article was written by our chief executive, Angharad Neagle, and featured in the Western Mail on 18 October 2021