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An equal and just transition to Net Zero in Wales

7 June 2023

A photo of a Welsh town and hills in the background with wind turbines

A report by Cardiff University academics shows that urgent action is needed to reduce inequalities and to ensure a just transition to Net Zero in Wales.

Welsh Government has a target to achieve Net Zero in Wales by 2050. The term ‘Net Zero’ refers to a situation where as much carbon is being taken out of the atmosphere as is created. It reflects a longer-term sustainable goal to reduce the overall amount of carbon in the atmosphere by reducing its production. Academics have investigated how a transition to Net Zero could be done fairly and inclusively, ‘not leaving anyone behind.’

To produce the report, academics worked in collaboration with Welsh Government, businesses, trades unions, and Welsh NGOs. The research team has considered how existing inequalities in skills, employment, and occupational segregation will make the transition to Net Zero more challenging in Wales.

They put forward a number of recommendations which include:

  • direct investment in renewables and to develop the needed skills and model fair work.
  • a transformation programme for equality in the workplace.
  • a mass carbon literacy programme – taking learning from communities into work and learning from work back to communities.

Researchers say these actions should contribute to producing the diverse, trained or upskilled employees and entrepreneurs who are needed to meet Wales’ Net Zero ambitions.

"The changing economy in Wales, both for digital and Net Zero, requires significant intervention programmes to ensure that everyone can benefit from growth in these currently highly segregated sectors and occupations. A tiny proportion of women, people from minoritized ethnic communities, and disabled people are currently working in digital/AI, in energy, construction, transport, and biodiversity. The report finds that unless everyone is included in the transition, Wales cannot attain the skilled workforce needed to transition to Net Zero.”
Dr Alison Parken Lecturer in Management, Employment and Organisation

The report is authored by: Dr Alison Parken (Cardiff Business School), Dr Sara MacBride-Stewart (School of Social Sciences), Professor Rachel Ashworth (Cardiff Business School), and Dr Rachel Minto (School of Law and Politics).

The report ‘An equal and just transition to Net Zero’ can be read on Orca

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