The greatest challenge humanity has ever faced is to turn our impact on the planet from destructive to benign. We will position Wales as a nation leading in the net zero commitments made in Paris 2015. We will seek a complete ban on fracking and new open-cast coal mines. We believe that responsibility for all of Wales’ natural resources should be in the hands of the people of Wales, through our democratically elected Parliament. This includes responsibility for all energy powers.

Renewable Energy

It remains our aspiration to produce as much electricity as is consumed in Wales from renewables by 2035. We believe there is an opportunity to develop a different model based on local generation, transmission and ownership through a network of community-owned micro-generation and municipally owned local grids backed by larger scale publicly owned generation and storage at the Welsh national level.

Our energy policy will be geared towards:

  • ensuring Welsh resources are used sustainably, tackling climate change and developing a post-carbon economy
  • guaranteeing security of supply to the people of Wales
  • being run for the interests of Welsh communities.

We will create a national system of decentralised energy. Under this system local communities are in greater control of energy generation and distribution, cutting out energy companies and generating lower bills for local people.

In order to achieve this goal:

  • we will work with National Grid to increase ease of access for new energy producers
  • we will commission a national inventory of green energy potential in Wales (wind, tidal, solar, wave, hydro etc) - an “Energy Atlas for Wales” - and a detailed plan for the phased exploitation of our natural resources and the development of indigenous firms with micro-generation expertise within a strict deadline. This will include a minimum target for a new community energy
  • we will amend land use planning legislation to enshrine a fast-track route for community-owned energy schemes, with a presumption in favour of development. In particular we will ensure that the social and economic benefits of Community Energy schemes will be given material weight in the planning process and this should take into account the long term impacts of these schemes
  • we will establish 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 client service and prices.

Climate Change Targets

Plaid Cymru accepts that climate change is the single biggest challenge facing humanity. We will play our full part in meeting this challenge. We will ensure that Wales meets its statutory carbon reduction targets, doing so in a way that brings with it economic benefit.

We will ban fracking and the exploitation of other forms of unconventional gas. We oppose large scale incineration projects and public subsidy for incineration. We will not support the development of nuclear power in new locations. We will oppose the use of pylons through National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty, advocating the use of underground and undersea cables to carry electricity where feasible.

Plaid Cymru opposes the development of any new opencast mining. We will also seek far more robust solutions to restoring abandoned opencast sites, taking legal action, introducing legislation and revising regulations where necessary.

Waste

Plaid Cymru will work with producers to reduce packaging waste as part of the Zero Waste Wales commitment. Currently Welsh Government has a target of achieving zero waste by 2050, but we want to place Wales at the forefront of the circular economy and bring the target forward by a generation to 2035.

We will achieve this by:

  • ensuring utensils and napkins in food establishments are recyclable or compostable
  • placing a Styrofoam ban in all shops
  • guaranteeing major public events to have provision for 100% recycling
  • creating a presumption in favour of recycled products in all government procurement
  • the promotion of reverse vending machines in public areas
  • piloting a plastic, glass and can deposit scheme
  • placing a requirement for large food retailers and manufacturers to take steps to reduce their food waste, including donating surplus food to charities for distribution.

Biodiversity

Widespread loss and degradation of habitats across Wales is now as obvious to us as climate change. We must act swiftly and with determination if we want to halt the effects of the ecological crisis on our wildlife and begin to see recovery. This calls for action close to home and globally.

Plaid Cymru will bring forward legislation to tackle the extinction crisis, placing a legal obligation on all future governments to act for the recovery of nature. Furthermore, we will secure robust, independent governance and accountability processes to uphold the law and stand up for our environment.

We will support greater transition to organic and other sustainable farming systems.

We will develop plans for renewable energy that operate in harmony with nature by identifying ecologically sustainable sites for offshore and onshore wind energy development, as well as potential areas for solar and tidal energy development. This will be a cornerstone of our ‘Welsh Energy Atlas’. It will show where different forms of energy resources would have the least ecological impact, as well as potential sites for nature redevelopment and conservation.

Global Deforestation

Though forests are the lungs of our planet, they are being decimated across the world at an alarming rate. Wales has a role in resisting this trend. We will:

  • Legislate to end the importation of goods that have caused deforestation
  • Invest in Overseas Development Aid that supports a transition to ecologically friendly farming
  • Require that imported palm oil comes from sustainable sources
  • Ban imports of soy, beef and other commodities from illegally deforested land.

Protecting our Seas

Plaid Cymru supports a strong UN Global Ocean Treaty capable of creating a network of ocean sanctuaries covering at least 30% of oceans by 2030. This should involve an immediate moratorium on deep sea mining. All further activity within UK exploration contracts should be halted.

International Trade

Future trade deals undertaken by the UK should maintain and enhance environmental standards, minimise the environmental footprint of trade and make trade terms explicitly subject to environmental and human rights commitments. There should be specific protections for vital global ecosystems and habitats such as the Amazon, and for indigenous people.

Minister for the Future

Plaid Cymru proposes the establishment of a new Ministry for the Future. In the Senedd, we already have a dedicated Shadow Minister for the Future. As well as surveying the broad policy environment, the Minister will be tasked with taking a long-term view of our environment, with responsibility to:

  • Ensure that Wales transitions to a low carbon, nature friendly economy
  • Develop a package of environmental and fiscal reforms to aid the transition to a greener economy
  • Encourage private sector investment in new green technologies.

Carbon Mitigation

Our energy policy will be geared towards ensuring that our resources are used sustainably, tackling pollution, developing jobs in the post-carbon economy and increasing our energy independence.

We will invest in the acquisition and development of new large scale generating and storage capacity projects through our renewables revolution and provide support for community energy initiatives. Plaid Cymru will commission a national inventory of green energy potential in Wales, an “Energy Atlas for Wales”, which will identify areas where development will have the least ecological impact.

Plaid Cymru will increase community ownership of renewable energy to retain more benefits locally. We will:

  • Establish a national energy agency, Ynni Cymru, which would be charged with realising Wales’s green energy potential
  • Fully realise marine energy potential including wave, tidal range and tidal stream energy
  • A complete ban on fracking and new open-cast coal mines
  • Oppose the development of new sites for nuclear power stations
  • Oppose the use of pylons through National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty, advocating the use of underground and undersea cables to carry electricity where feasible.

Increasing Woodland

To make our contribution to tackling climate change we need to substantially increase the acreage of Welsh forestry. Since 2013, new woodland planted has been less than 1,000 hectares a year. We should aim for a minimum planting rate of 2,000 hectares a year, a target recommended by the UK Climate Change Committee.

We will examine the case for establishing a dedicated forestry organization to undertake the urgent task of addressing the Climate Emergency by planting more trees. We will ensure that this policy is closely connected with incentives for farmers.

Increasing our native tree woodlands not only has a major part to play in terms of carbon capture, but offers many other benefits including flood control, providing a habitat for wildlife, mproving the quality of our landscape, and creating useful timber products.

Clean Air

It is estimated that air pollution contributes to 2,000 deaths a year in Wales. We will implement a Clean Air Act for Wales to:

  • Create clean air zones in our towns and cities
  • Give communities the right to place pollution-monitoring equipment outside schools and hospitals
  • Enable local authorities to introduce pollution and congestion charges
  • Set a national and regional plan to reduce air pollution in Wales.
  • Reform planning law to require impact on air pollution to be given greater weight in the planning system
  • Accelerate the transition to an electric transport system so that petrol and diesel cars are phased out.

Reducing Plastic Waste

We will tackle the issue of plastic waste by banning single-use plastics, developing sustainable alternatives and increasing recycling targets. Plaid Cymru will place Wales at the forefront of the circular economy and ensure a Zero Waste Wales by 2035 through a combination of legislation and policy initiatives, such as Deposit Return Schemes, extended producer responsibility and use of planning laws, levies and tax-making powers.

Flooding and Flood Prevention

We will place a greater emphasis on flood prevention in planning guidelines, recognising that climate change will make serious flooding events more likely in future. We will invest in prevention work to reduce new and repeat flooding across Wales, utilising land management techniques such as planting new woodland to manage water retention in the uplands and prevent water run-off.

Electric Vehicle Charging Network

We will invest in a national electric vehicle charging network across Wales, starting the transition towards a wholly electric fleet of public sector vehicles and increased use of private Electric Vehicles. Currently Wales has eight of the counties with the lowest number of public car charging points per person across Britain. Cardiff has 45 public charging points, compared with 112 in Edinburgh and 258 in Milton Keynes. Without public intervention Wales will be left behind in the coming electric car revolution.

Bike Reward Scheme

Plaid Cymru will introduce a bicycle use reward scheme, to encourage people out of their cars and onto their bikes. This will lead to a significant reduction in road congestion and a boost for improved health and wellbeing.

We will develop a scheme where participants are paid for every mile they cycle to work, as is the case in the Netherlands. This would go hand in hand with significant improvements to cycling infrastructure, making cycling safer and more enjoyable for children and casual bike users. It would include nationwide improvements to cycle paths, the development of cycleways connecting economic hubs and providing train carriages with enough room for bicycles.