Al Gore speaking at COP26

Al Gore speaking at COP26

Accountability, Collaboration, Hope: COP26 and Wales

Published 22/11/2021   |   Last Updated 22/11/2021   |   Reading Time minutes


I’m Peredur Owen Griffiths MS, the Chair of the Senedd’s Finance Committee. In November 2021, I was privileged to attend CoP26 in Glasgow to join the collective endeavour to tackle climate change.

This historic event highlighted the brutal reality that every part of the world is suffering the consequences of climate change, and we need a dramatic change and urgent action.

Individuals and organisations should be held accountable for their pledges. This is something that was explored by numerous speakers throughout the conference, as was the concept of a ‘greener future’.

Former US Vice President Al Gore argued that as the “demand for change will grow and grow and grow, we must keep at the centre of our concerns… communities who have suffered the most. We should understand the connectedness of our entire world.”

This demand for change continues to grow in Wales and I hope that these demands will trigger immediate action all across the world.

There are communities in Wales who have suffered greatly as a result of the climate crisis, particularly those who have been affected by severe flooding in recent years.

I believe there is still much more that governments can do in terms of working collaboratively so that solutions to these issues  are found and implemented.

In recent years, issues of climate change and decarbonisation have become increasingly important to the work of Senedd Committees.

The Welsh Government declared a climate emergency in April 2019. Last year’s budget (2021-21) was the Welsh Government’s first budget since declaring the emergency and included £140 million capital investment to support the decarbonisation agenda.

The budget outlined the core areas the Welsh Government is investing in building a greener future, including; housing, combating climate change, and reinvesting in town centres.

Last year, during its scrutiny of the Welsh Government Draft Budget, the predecessor Finance Committee made the following recommendations relating to climate change and decarbonisation:

The Committee recommends that the Welsh Government prioritises developing a comprehensive assessment of the carbon impact of its spending decisions and considers how it can overcome the limitations identified.

The Committee recommends that the Welsh Government demonstrates how it has changed its approach to climate emergency spend in light of the pandemic and how it intends to maintain the flexibility to adapt to behavioural changes in fulfilling its objective of building a ‘greener future’.

The Finance Committee will shortly be scrutinising the Welsh Government Draft Budget for 2022-23. Climate change budgeting needs to be a long-term objective.

I hope that the Welsh Government makes it clear how the climate change and decarbonisation agenda is being mainstreamed in the budget process and the Committee will make sure that Minister’s budgetary decisions and priorities are held to account on such issues.

Ultimately, perhaps the most important element that I took away from the conference was the element of hope.

Hope that things can be better, hope that things can happen and hope that we can do something about the course we seem to be on. It is fundamental that we turn this hope into inspiration, and that inspiration into action.  

The budget is an opportunity for the Welsh Government to demonstrate its commitment to tackling the climate emergency and, as a Committee, we look forward to seeing how these considerations are influencing and driving policy and spending decisions.

You can follow the Finance Committee's work here.