After a turbulent and tiring year, here’s a few thoughts for 2017.
Firstly, climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity. Each year, global temperatures and extreme weather events underline this trend.
If we are serious about cutting Wales’ emissions by 80% by 2050 and reaching the cross-party agreed target of cutting emissions by 40% by 2020, we must act now.
Westminster still has too much power over energy decisions. If the Wales Bill is passed this year Wales will have consenting powers over energy projects up to 350 megawatts which would draw an arbitrary line separating projects depending on their scale.
Furthermore both financial incentives over renewable energy and the future of the electricity and gas grids are decided in London. This is an unacceptable constraint on Wales by UK Government policy decisions.
However, there is a big step which the Welsh Government can take to increase energy generation from renewables. That is to set up a national energy company, Ynni Cymru, which will run as a not-for-dividend company at arms-length from Welsh Government, investing profits in improved services and prices.
I welcome the Welsh Government’s recent commitment following Plaid Cymru pressure to review the need for a not-for dividend energy company.
Ynni Cymru’s remit would cover a wide range of areas including reducing the consumption of energy in homes and businesses, funding installation of solar panels, facilitating the use of public land for renewable energy purposes and many more.
The decision to leave the EU means we should be accelerating the pace towards energy self-sufficiency. We believe that we can produce as much electricity as is consumed in Wales from renewables by 2035. Ynni Cymru would have a crucial role in fulfilling this aim and also in contributing to the Welsh Government’s climate change targets.
For agricultue and the environment, exiting the European Union means we have to develop our own policies. The threat is that the Westminster government will claw back powers when they return from Europe.
I still believe that the best long term future for Wales is as an independent nation co-operating with our fellow European countries. The decision to leave the EU means that the path towards this future will change but I do not trust any Westminster government to put the needs of Wales and our citizens first.
On President Trump
There is now a trend in Western democracies of anti-establishment rhetoric being utilised by the wealthy and powerful as a route to power.
Many people have been genuinely left behind or alienated by politics and economic policies. In both the United States and Wales, some of the areas which voted most strongly for Trump or for Brexit are those which lack opportunities.
Plaid Cymru will not write those people off and we will continue to reach out to those people who are now attracted to right-wing populist parties, because on issues like inequality of wealth, there is a clear case to answer.
The reason why Plaid Cymru has gone forward in recent elections and polls is because we have become trusted at a local and community level. There is far more to be done, but in Wales it is Plaid Cymru which holds open and inclusive values whilst still offering an alternative to the Westminster establishment.
Happy New Year to you all!