By Lydia Jackson
Most days news reports are published on the fragile state of our planet, as new risks are revealed and known risks are reiterated. There has been recent concern over the impact of plastic pollution, the temperature of oceans rising quicker than anticipated and the startling loss of biodiversity taking place the world over. Closer to home, in Wales, concerns have been raised over the dumping of nuclear waste from Hinkley power plant outside Cardiff and the removal of over 30,000 tonnes of waste threatening to pollute Swansea. With the environmental issues confronting us being so overwhelmingly large, it begs the question, what can we actually do to make a difference?
Some believe that the answer lies in local action, and I tend to agree with them. If everyone across the globe acts locally to tackle issues that affect them, working together to provide informed solutions relevant to their community, a huge difference can be made. It is for this reason that I have decided to launch a campaign to ban single use plastics on Transport for Wales services.
Transport for Wales is run by the Welsh Government and provides rail services across the whole of the country. As part of its scheduled improvement plans it claims that stations and overhead wires will be powered by 100% renewable energy, with at least 50% sourced in Wales. I want the government to compliment this measure by also banning the sale of single-use plastics on their services in moves towards a plastic free Transport for Wales.
Plastic pollution can now be found on every beach in the world and microplastics have been discovered deep in the Arctic ice. Each day, approximately 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into our oceans and it is estimated that there may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.
According to Surfers Against Sewage “In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034.”
We cannot wait for nation states to make a change. We don’t have the time. The recent United Nations COP24 conference in Poland is evidence of this. It demonstrated that there are limitations to international cooperation because states such as Russia, Brazil and the United States do not want to see meaningful change and are disputing the scientific knowledge of the International Panel on Climate Change. At a time when we are already eating, drinking and breathing plastic and climate patterns are noticeably changing, this proves that international compromise is not going to go far enough in challenging environmental degradation and plastic pollution.
I believe that we all have a part to play in tackling this challenge. If you want to help me to make a difference, please like my Facebook page, Plastic Free Transport 4 Wales, and sign the related petition. The Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee has a strong reputation for carrying petitions through to bring about meaningful change, most notably the plastic bag charges!