Wales has been and will be again a global leader. Welsh coal powered the industrial revolution, shaping every element of our lives today. We are now at a global turning point. We humans have big decisions to make as a species over the next few years – to tackle runaway climate change, or not. These decisions will determine whether our civilisation will fall or whether it will survive to see the centuries to come. Wales has the potential to step up and once more lead the way, this time to a cleaner greener more sustainable future.
It really is that important and that simple. Until recently, I felt overwhelmed and powerless about the big picture. As far as climate change is concerned, I felt the best way was to stick two fingers up at the powers that be and get on with local community initiatives. That’s still important. But recently I’ve realised that almost every big issue I care about (ensuring that our planet is habitable is pretty high up on that list) is best addressed by focusing large amounts of energy in one simple direction.
Wales MUST become independent.
I’ve had enough of hearing ‘Wales is too poor’. It is disempowering. Yes, a lot of people in Wales are poor, and we must change that. But Wales is a rich country. Rich in natural resources, in talent and creativity. If we feel poor it is because we have set our aspirations too low and are lacking the leadership and vision to set us on a path to higher achievement and a fairer distribution of wealth.
When sea level rises by 2 metres due to run away climate change, we will truly know who are the poor people on our planet. Thankfully, Wales will not be among the worst effected, and we will need at that point to open our doors to those who are. If you think the refugee crisis is serious now, it is nothing compared to that which will follow due to climate change.
Not that the effects of climate change won’t be felt in Wales, in fact they are already. The State of Nature in Wales Report was published today, finding that one in fourteen species in Wales is in danger of disappearing altogether – a situation that the naturalist Iolo Williams describes as a ‘staggering erosion of wildlife‘. Changes in land management and climate change are referenced as the two biggest contributing causes. If you are attached to seeing clychau’r gog (bluebells) in Welsh woods, or fond of pilipalod (many butterflies such as the fritillary are in decline by as much as 60%) then you might be interested in how an independent Wales could take more effective action to protect these and other species. Maybe you are #indycurious.
So it’s time for us to shake off the cloak of victimhood. We haven’t got time for that. We in Wales must realise that as with many issues we face, and above all in the the case of climate change and other forms of environmental degradation, we can only take effective action and live up to our potential once we are an independent Nation.
Westminster’s record on almost everything that matters over the last two terms of Government is shocking, especially on the environment. It is hardly even worth going into here. Pick a target and Westminster has moved us backwards. They have supported fracking, and have slashed subsidies for solar and wind until the bottom dropped out of the market. If it belches out a whole load of carbon (and would it be too cynical to say, lines the pockets of their shareholder buddies?) the majority of MPs have proved they will support it.
What they have shown they won’t support, is devolving powers for energy generation (over 350MW) to Wales, even Welsh MPs (with the exception of Plaid Cymru MPs) have voted against this. So we are prevented from taking our own decisions as to how best to make use of the abundant energy potential that Wales’ mighty and enviable wind* and water resources have to offer. We can exploit these resources without compromising our natural environment or detracting from its beauty. But to realise our potential on a larger scale in Wales we must empower ourselves by becoming independent.
An independent Wales can and will lead the way once more, but this time the energy we produce in our verdant valleys and along our dramatic coastline will be green, not black as coal. As once we powered the industrial revolution, we can and should now step up as a world leader in renewable technology to power a green revolution. We are world leaders in the field of aerospace, it is not such a leap of imagination to think that we can apply our technological expertise to the field of renewables. A clean, green, prosperous Wales. Mass employment once more, with skilled, well paid jobs. Profits that stay in Wales, renewable technology at a community scale, owned by local people, and strong, Welsh, world leading companies that will be synonymous with a low carbon economy.
Westminster recently decided to go ahead with building a new nuclear power station at Hinkley point. The profits will go to France and China, our own electricity prices will go up and we will be stuck with the radioactive waste for many generations. This is not a Government that has our own interests at heart. It is time to go our own way in Wales and develop sensible sustainable policies for future generations.
But the current record on environment in Wales is terrible. So first we need to hold the Welsh Government to account (on everything not just the environment). The first step on the road to independence is whipping those in Cardiff Bay into shape. We need to let them know we are waking up to their under-performance and ‘paucity of ambition’.
So the plan as I see it is:
Step 1 – improve quality of governance in Wales (hold elected officials to account, better media scrutiny, vote out second rate politicians and vote in better ones)
Step 2 (in concurrence but strengthened by step 1) – establish broad support for welsh independence as part of a positive cross-party multi-issue campaign that appeals to all
Step 3 – Welsh independence
(optional step 4 – save the world by being a global leader in tackling climate change)
If this seems crazy and dare I say it, a little ambitious, its better than the total lack of ideas and direction in Wales at the moment. There is no harm in shaking things up a bit as a starting point for conversation. (The current approach after all is: ‘in light of Brexit we’ve decided its time to REALLY sell Wales abroad‘. Because before Brexit you were doing what exactly Carwyn? Afternoon naps are under-rated I’ve heard…)
As far as plans go, I confess there’s still a little detail to flesh out, but it is intended as a starting point.
So I think we need a big team Wales effort on making steps 1 and 2 happen… who’s in?
*I grant that some people are not a fan of onshore wind, and we could argue until the cows come home about the pros and cons. I am not advocating here for a prescriptive approach, or that being pro-independence goes hand in hand with being pro-wind power, or pro almost anything at all except a better future for Wales. Its by no means inevitable that an independent Wales would have more onshore wind than it does now, but at least we could decide for ourselves. What I hope we can all agree on is that we need to do something pretty damn quick about climate change…. if you are still questioning that then I’d wager you’re not ready to talk about independence for Wales. But good luck to you, its going to be a bumpy ride…