Protest heaps pressure on North Wales council to do more on climate change

Protesters have demanded that a council – which declared a climate emergency in 2019 – should refuse more gas powered plants in the county and withdraw from all fossil fuel investments. Gwynedd’s local Extinction Rebellion group held a protest in Bangor on Saturday, urging Gwynedd Council to take decisive action to reduce carbon emissions. Held near the city’s Pontio arts centre, the event was designed to heap pressure on the authority to act, claiming that decision makers was acting like its “business as usual.”

: North Wales tops global list for showing visitors more ‘considerate way of life’ In 2019 the full council backed the declaration of a climate emergency, going on to create a climate change action plan. But despite acknowledging that such moves have been derailed by the pandemic, a recent cabinet meeting was told that it remains committed to hitting the Welsh Government’s target of a carbon neutral public sector by 2030.

Having now appointed a Climate Change Programme Manager, efforts so far have included a street light and signs replacement programme – which has seen the replacement of the bulbs with more energy efficient and cheaper to run LED technology – resulting in carbon emissions being down by 47% compared to 2006.

With Gwynedd also soon take on its first electric powered recycling truck, it is actively exploring the potential of hydrogen power as a means to overcome the difficulties posed by the county’s terrain. But campaigner Helen Mcgreary, a Bangor-based dance teacher, said that more needs to be done. “The council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency was great progress towards tackling our carbon impact, but this needs to be backed up by action,” she said.

“We need to stop granting permissions for Gas Power Plants in the county, and for the council to take its pension funds money out of fossil fuel companies.” According to Extinction Rebellion the Gwynedd Pension Fund, which manages a pot worth over GBP2bn for Gwynedd, Ynys Mon and Conwy council as well as various other employers in the north west, has over GBP50m currently invested in fossil fuels Noting that the impact of climate change and extreme weather events are already being felt within the county, they added that 23,244 Gwynedd residents currently live within a flood risk area with the issue only expected to worsen as sea levels rise.

Of particular concern to activists has also been the. granting of planning permission for back-up gas fuelled mini power stations, designed to fill gaps in demand left by the demise of the UK’s coal powered plants.

Extinction Rebellion climate cafe event at Bangor on Saturday

But Alison Shaw, a Bethesda-based retired science teacher, such facilities emit high levels of carbon, claiming that “renewable energy is now a better option.” She added, “The evidence that we’re heading towards climate chaos is irrefutable but (Gwynedd Council) carries on with business as usual, continuing to support and invest in fossil fuels, when renewables could be being encouraged. “Battery storage for wind, solar and hydro energy is really good these days, and that’s the future.

Its time for Gwynedd to get up to speed, and fulfil on its promises. “Divest from fossil fuels and stop building Gas Power Plants.”

Sign up to the Love North Wales newsletter

Protest heaps pressure on North Wales council to do more on climate change

Did you know we offer a free Love North Wales newsletter? Whether you live in the region or just like to visit the area, our weekly newsletter will bring you inspiration for the best places to visit, eat, shop and have fun in North Wales.

To sign up to the weekly Love North Wales newsletter click here. In response, a Gwynedd Council spokesman said that efforts had been underway for some time to move pension funds towards sustainable assets. “Responsible investing is an issue that is addressed at every meeting of our investment panel, where we discuss with asset managers who invest on behalf of the Gwynedd Pension Fund,” he said.

“These asset managers have ongoing plans to improve their carbon footprint and the Gwynedd Pension Fund is working with them to implement these plans. “In February 2021, 12% of the Gwynedd Fund moved to a further low carbon fund with Black Rock screening fossil fuels prior to low carbon optimization, thus further reducing carbon emissions by 44%. “Baillie Gifford has also developed the Paris Aligned fund that is disinvesting from fossil fuel extractors companies and we are in the process of moving assets to this fund, and many of our pooled funds are covered by Russell Investments which reduces the carbon footprint by 25%.”

Protest heaps pressure on North Wales council to do more on climate changeExtinction Rebellion climate cafe event at Bangor on Saturday

He concluded: “”Responsible investing is important to all Local Government Pension Scheme funds, and we are able to work together through the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF).

“The LAPFF aims to promote the highest standards of corporate governance to protect the long-term value of local authority pension funds. The Forum engages directly with hundreds of companies, and their chairs. “This is done by building trust and having a two-way dialogue on corporate responsibility in the areas of stewardship, climate risk, social risk and governance risk. ”

What do you think?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.