The Welsh government has recently increased its ambition to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (up from an 80% reduction target), set the latest carbon budget target for 2021-5, and stated its intention to make the Welsh public sector carbon neutral by 2030.
Net zero is now an issue for all Welsh workers.
The new targets mean decarbonisation is now an urgent issue across the public and private sectors. As well as further reductions in the power sector, there will have to be greater emissions reductions in other carbon intensive industries; where a small number of big emitters, such as Port Talbot steelworks are responsible for a large proportion of Welsh emissions. It is in these industries that there is a risk of a large-scale displacement of jobs, as some ‘dirtier’ ones will either disappear entirely or be radically transformed through the introduction of new technologies.
The 2020s are a crucial decade
The next decade will see transition efforts across the whole of the Welsh public sector which employs 20% of the workforce. It will also see major shifts in Wales’ most important industrial areas, including the South Wales Industrial Cluster, which only have fifteen years to either switch away from fossil fuels to low-carbon alternatives and/or install carbon capture and storage (CCS) at scale. Major transformations will also be getting underway across the transport, housing and construction industries.
Planning is already underway
There are multiple planning processes underway already focusing on economic recovery and transition. Whilst the Wales TUC has secured a union presence on both the public and private sector panels that are feeding into the development of the Net Zero Wales Plan, unions will also need to be engaged in the implementation of the Plan. Decisions around transition are also being made at employer and industry level where unions have a presence.
Negotiating the future: The takeaways
➔ Successful intervention is possible
➔ The time to act is now
➔ Prepare the ground and engage members
➔ Use industrial strength
➔ Engage in dialogue at all levels