Free pass rescinded - Transport and Climate Change

  Speech to the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee, 19th May 2022 Thanks for the chance to make a contribution. In the Welsh Government transport now sits in the broader Climate Change portfolio. Our First Minister has crafted one large Ministry that is bringing together the principal drivers of carbon emissions to give us the best chance of delivering on our legal commitment to reach NetZero by 2050. Under the leadership of two Ministers for Climate Change Transport sits alongside planning, housing, energy, the environment, and regeneration to help us to align our policies. It’s a big portfolio; meeting NetZero is an even bigger challenge. Transport has until now been given a free pass when it comes to emissions reductions on the grounds that it is a key economic driver. The UN Panel on Climate Change is pretty unequivocal in its analysis that if we don’t get emissions under control our economy faces catastrophic damage. Al Gore called it an ‘inconvenient truth’,

Renewing from within

The Tudor Watkins Memorial Lecture, delivered to the Brecon Labour Party 1st October 2021 Thank you for the honour of giving the Tudor Watkins Memorial Lecture. Tudor not only remains in the memory of our movement as one of the generation of Labour MPs who made possible the creation of a welfare state and National Health Service after the Second World War, the ‘revolution without tears’, but he was also a significant figure in the history of devolution.  When he was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire in 1945 the dominant view in the Labour Party was that the problems faced by working people were best addressed by one strong central Government, a Labour Government. The workers of the world should unite, right? And anyway, as Nye Bevan famously asked in the first St Davids Day debate in the House of Commons in 1944, ‘what is the difference between a Welsh sheep and an English sheep?’ Having just lived through a terrible war based on the idea that there

Putting the Foundational Economy into practice to tackle the climate emergency

 Speech to WISERD Foundational Economy Conference, September 9th 2021  I’m in the north for a series of visits to learn about my new portfolio which includes housing, energy, transport, regeneration and forestry, amongst very many others. It was initially described as a Climate Change super-Ministry. But it could equally be called a foundry for the foundational economy.  Tackling the fallout from global warning, a nature AND climate emergency, and stopping it getting any worse, is our priority. But as we do it we need to fashion solutions that also enhance our communities – advancing social justice and growing local economies as we go.  That’s the lense I look at this job through.  The scale of the climate challenge is not fully understood by many. In the next 10 years we have to achieve cuts in emissions greater than all the reductions we have managed in the whole of the last 30 years. And the cuts get more challenging still in the decades beyond this one.  The first thing I d

It’s time to focus on the everyday economy

Published by the Institute of Welsh Affairs on  10th January 2020 Over the last year we’ve been concentrating on putting into practice some of the ideas that have been championed by parts of civil society to strengthen the foundations of our economy. In his manifesto to become First Minister Mark Drakeford emphasised that his Government would nurture and grow the everyday parts of our economy, with a focus not just on the economic outputs but on the quality of people’s experience of everyday life. My colleague Ken Skates set the direction for this new approach in the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan, with a recognition of the need to shift away from a sector approach to economic development to one focused on place – making the communities we live in stronger and more resilient. The plan places a greater emphasis on tackling inequality and signals a shift away from big grants to a ‘something for something’ relationship with business. Of course we should continue to defend our tra