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.
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:
Our way of living has an impact on the planet. We need to all work together to reduce carbon emissions as these are harmful when released into the atmosphere. We can all use energy more efficiently, make our journeys greener, make green daily choices and sustainable food choices to help lower harmful emissions.
We need to adapt to rising temperatures and extreme weather caused by climate change, protecting our health, homes and communities from the impacts. We can make our buildings more resilient and work with nature to lessen the harm to us and future generations.
Green education, skills & careers
The Welsh Government recognises that all jobs will change to some extent as we transition to net zero, and is focused on providing the right skills and opportunities to help tackle climate challenges and create growth.
These are some of the other important areas linked with tackling climate change:
The nature emergency
Climate change is threatening plants and animals. This harms the planet and our health. We can tackle this through actions such as managing our gardens and urban and rural green spaces to support wildlife, growing vegetables, supporting community garden projects, using peat-free soil and planting trees.
Our natural world is essential for our planet and our health and wellbeing. There are many things we can do to manage air, land and water quality which are important to protect our health. Actions such as practising green travel behaviour, managing litter and plastic pollution, using less water and disposing of household chemicals and medicines appropriately all have a positive impact.
45% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the goods that we produce and consume. By repairing and reusing items in a circular economy approach, we keep resources in use for as long as possible and reduce waste. This supports the regeneration of nature and reduction of carbon emissions, as well as saving money. One way we can do this is by using repair cafés in our communities.
These are some of the important enablers for action:
Climate change affects us all, but it doesn’t affect us all equally, nor do the opportunities for action. The Welsh Government is focused on putting in place support to make green choices easier, more convenient and more affordable for everyone, prioritising support for those who need it most.
Public sector action
The Welsh Government and other public sector bodies are committed to being collectively net zero by 2030 and to radically reducing emissions over more than 780 public sector organisations. The public sector in Wales has an important role to play in leading by example and inspiring others to act.
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:
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.
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.
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’.
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
Industry and business
Net Zero Wales (Wales’ current emissions reduction plan)
A Climate Conscious Wales) (the 5 year plan to adapt to the impacts Wales may face from climate change)
Net Zero and your career (learning new green skills, employment and training opportunities)
Biodiversity Deep Dive: Recommendations (the set of collective actions to protect at least 30% of the land and 30% of the sea by 2030).
Clean Air Plan for Wales (Wales’ plan to improve air quality).
Noise & Soundscape Action Plan Consultation (your views on Wales’ national strategy on soundscapes)
Beyond Recycling Strategy (the plan to make the circular economy in Wales a reality)
Welsh Government Net Zero strategic plan (the plan to make Welsh Government net zero by 2030).
Public sector route map (actions and milestones needed for the Welsh public sector to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Business Wales (information, advice and guidance for businesses)
Big-thinking local climate action (check your local area for climate projects being delivered near you).