Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Breaking with its past as one of the world's top coal users, Wales announced it would end its use of all fossil fuels following the IPCC's report on the climate crisis. (Photo: Walt Jabsco/Flickr/cc)

In 'Historic Moment' for Climate Action, Wales Pledges to Leave Its Remaining Coal in the Ground

"More countries must rapidly follow the path of Wales in leaving fossil fuels in the ground and transitioning to renewables."

Julia Conley

Climate action groups on Monday applauded the government of Wales for demonstrating that it is taking seriously the existential and planetary threat posed by fossil fuels by announcing that the country would end its extraction of coal.

Wales' new proposed plan to reject all future coal mining applications is set to be finalized by the end of the year, a government spokesperson told the BBC last week, as part of the country's new energy strategy which will aim to ensure that 70 percent of Wales' energy is derived from renewable sources by 2030.

"We applaud the Welsh government in taking these vital steps for a climate safe future. Their actions are in direct contrast to its English neighbor who this week has given the green light to start fracking and created an unfavorable environment for renewable energy," said Anna Vickerstaff, spokesperson for 350.org, referring to fracking operations which restarted in Blackpool, England recently—days before five small earthquakes were recorded in the area.

"It is a historic moment. This is the end of coal in Wales after a long association and history." —Haf Elgar, Friends of the Earth Cymru

The announcement came days weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a harrowing report on the steps the world's government must take immediately in order to avoid the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis which would come about by 2040 if the Earth warms more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

"We have to be aware of our global responsibility and the impact all of the coal has had over the years and to make sure that we really do play our part in Wales now to be globally responsible and to reduce our carbon emissions," Haf Elgar, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, told the BBC.

Payal Parekh, program director for 350.org, praised Wales for heeding the call of the IPCC and expressed urgent hope that other countries follow in its footsteps.

"The IPCC report released last week should act as a wake-up call for leaders worldwide. More countries must rapidly follow the path of Wales in leaving fossil fuels in the ground and transitioning to renewables," said Parekh in a statement.

The government's decision was significant for a country which once counted the coal industry as its single biggest employer, producing 57 million tons of coal in one year at the beginning of the last century. Production has slowed significantly over the last 100 years, with the country extracting 2.5 million tons in 2014—but green groups expressed optimism about the plan to eliminate the fossil fuel from Wales' economy. 

"It is a historic moment. This is the end of coal in Wales after a long association and history," said Elgar.

The announcement makes Wales one of a small but growing group of nations which have pledged to take bold action and abandon long relied-upon energy sources for the sake of the planet and future generations.

Earlier this year, Costa Rica announced it would shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2021, and fracking has been banned in Uruguay, Scotland, Germany, Australia, and a number of U.S. states. 

The IPCC's report noted that putting a stop to fossil fuel emissions could feasibly be achieved, but that successfully limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius "would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban, and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems"—the kind of change to which the Welsh government has now committed.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Flint Residents 'Disgusted' After Court Throws Out Indictments of Top Officials

"It has become increasingly clear that the judicial system is not a viable option for a poor majority Black community facing injustice," said Flint Rising.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders, Fetterman Urge Buttigieg to Fine Airlines Over Flight Cancellations

"The American people are sick of airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute, and delaying flights for hours on end," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·


In Blow to Voting Rights, SCOTUS Saves Louisiana's Racially Rigged Electoral Map

"Black Louisianans deserve fair representation. The fight for racial justice and equality is far from over," vowed one civil rights group.

Brett Wilkins ·


Watching US With Horror, European Groups Push Leaders to Strengthen Abortion Rights

"This is an important moment for leaders across Europe who are committed to reproductive rights to lead by example and galvanize action in their own countries," said one campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·


Women Face Chaos, Torment as Abortion Clinics Shutter Across US

Clinic workers are attempting to get patients appointments out-of-state while women stockpile emergency contraception, fearing overcrowded clinics even in states that protect reproductive rights.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo