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Climate change

Climate change means long-term shifts in our planet’s temperature, rainfall and weather patterns.

Some changes in the climate are natural. But carbon emission-generating human activity is speeding up the global warming that causes climate change. 

Global warming is the long-term heating of the Earth’s atmosphere caused by our actions. This is mainly from the burning of fossil fuels – like coal, oil and natural gas – which emits carbon dioxide in the air and traps more of the sun’s heat, raising temperatures.  

Climate change is impacting people around the world in many ways, from increasingly frequent extreme heatwaves and storms, to disruption of food systems and a rise in disease. It’s threatening Welsh communities, through impacts like flooding, water shortages, wild fires and changes to air quality. Our flood defences, our natural and historic environments, our homes and the businesses that drive our economy – they are all at risk. And it’s only set to worsen.

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What can we do?

The aim is for Wales to reach net zero by 2050, which means the greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere are in balance with the greenhouse gases emitted. We all need to work together to make this happen – Welsh Government, local authorities, communities, businesses, and everyone in Wales.  

What we can do is live more sustainably. We can use less and reuse, repair and recycle more; reduce food waste; buy only what we need; lower our home energy use; and turn to cycling, walking and wheeling. If possible, we can also shop more sustainably, making healthier and more sustainable food choices; adapt our homes for better energy efficiency; and when our car needs replacing, consider buying electric.

Learn more about climate change by exploring the following topics:

 

These are some of the other important areas linked with tackling climate change:

These are some of the important enablers for action:

Why take action?

Climate change presents one of the greatest threats to us, our planet and future generations. Transforming the way we live will not only help tackle climate change, but bring a number of other important benefits: 

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A healthier Wales

Climate change is already impacting our health – particularly the vulnerable – with extreme heat, cold, flooding and diseases. Working to reduce climate change will help fight against this, as well as lead to improved air quality, healthier ways of travelling, more comfortable and efficient homes and workplaces, and improved diets. 

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A resilient Wales

The changing climate is already impacting on our economy, natural environment, towns and villages across Wales. By taking action on climate change, we can protect our homes, communities and workplaces from the impacts we are already seeing through floods and heatwaves.

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A fairer Wales

The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring the support around taking action on climate change is fair, inclusive, and driven by the guiding principle of ‘leaving no-one behind’.

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A prosperous Wales

The transition to a more sustainable way of living will help create new jobs to provide low-carbon goods and services. An important challenge for both UK and Welsh Government is to identify where jobs may be lost in Wales (for example in fossil power generation and refining) and support workers be part of a workforce with the new green skills needed in the future. 

What is Wales doing?

In Wales, we are legally committed (through the Environment (Wales) Act 2016) to reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. The Welsh Government establishes 10-yearly targets and 5-yearly carbon budgets setting out our pathway to net zero. Our current plan is Net Zero Wales

It includes our current emissions targets in the following areas:   

  • Electricity and heat generation 

  • Transport 

  • Homes 

  • Industry and business 

  • Agriculture 

  • Land use 

  • Waste management

 

More information

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