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Blog Post 1 March 2022

Do the little things: celebrating St David’s Day

by Ryan Williams

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus!

The first of March is Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant, or St David’s Day, the day when Wales celebrates its patron saint.

A renowned preacher, his final words to his followers before his death on 1 March 589 were “Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do.”

‘Do the little things in life’ (or ‘Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd’ in Welsh) became a saying within Wales and aligns well with the things individuals are asked to do to help fight climate change.

Most of us are aware of energy saving tips like switching off a light when leaving a room, but is ‘doing the little things’ appropriate at a time when big change is needed?

People power

Little things can have a big impact, something Wales has proved in recent years. The weekly recycling routine is something every home in Wales is familiar with: it’s a small task that has seen household recycling rates rocket from 4.8% in 1998-99 to over 65% in 2020-21.

That puts Wales third in the world for recycling, but behind the success is the Welsh Government’s strategy to achieve zero waste by 2050, supported by a £1 billion investment since devolution. However, the role individuals have played can’t be ignored.

Their role in reducing waste goes beyond the home. In 2011, Wales became the first country in the UK to charge for single use carrier bags, reducing their number by 71% in the first three years, as well as raising money for charity.

These days, people across Wales don’t think twice about grabbing their bag for life before going to the shops, but these small changes also need to be backed up by much larger schemes to have a real impact.

Wales-wide plans

As well as encouraging people in Wales do their bit, the Welsh Government is pulling its weight in helping deliver a net zero society that works for all.

The Welsh Government Energy Service is one example. As part of our work in helping deliver the Energy Service, we have seen how supporting the public sector and community groups in their shift to net zero can have a cumulative impact.

The Energy Service empowers organisations to reduce emissions and generate locally owned renewable energy by supporting them with funding, technical advice, and energy strategy, to turn projects into reality.

Since 2018, the Energy Service has supported over 400 projects across Wales, saving over 432,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being emitted and committing to 32.6MW of new renewable energy capacity in Wales. Whether it’s energy efficiency, electric vehicles, or renewable energy projects, its combined impact is helping the Welsh Government move towards a net zero public sector by 2030.

Closer to home

But what about energy efficiency at home? Latest figures show that 12% of homes in Wales are in fuel poverty and that is likely to increase as the rise in energy bills and cost of living take hold. It’s important to ensure these vulnerable homes are not negatively impacted by the fight against climate change.

That is where schemes like the Welsh Government’s Warm Homes Nest scheme help. Through our work on Nest, we understand the importance of ensuring everyone benefits from energy efficiency measures.

Nest has provided over 160,000 homes with free advice around saving energy, money management and benefit entitlement. Over 47,600 homes have also received home energy efficiency improvement measures, helping reduce not just their bills, but emissions too.

We also help deliver Power Up, a Western Power Distribution initiative that helps their customers have warmer, more efficient homes – and more affordable energy bills. In the last programme year, our team helped customers save an average of £363 on their fuel bills, with advice provided to over 1,000 people in south Wales. Again, it’s the little things: by working with people on a one-on-one basis, we’ve helped save a total of over £390,000 for customers, making a big difference during difficult times.

Looking ahead

Helping vulnerable people is part of the ‘decade of action’ set out by the Welsh Government’s plan for net zero.

When launching the plan, Minster for Climate Change Julie James MS set out “the action [Welsh Government] will take and the things [they] are already doing,” including “giving the poorest people in Wales warmer, more energy efficient homes” through schemes like Nest.

As well as introducing over 120 policies and proposals (including building 20,000 new low carbon social homes for rent), she noted that “we really need everyone to work with us on this.”

The words from St David’s final sermon, then, seem to still ring true: ‘do the little things in life’ is part of tackling the emergency, but larger government-led initiatives must take the lead to deliver the scale of change that is needed.

Last updated: 25 February 2022