Guardian columnist George Monbiot reported recently on the unlikely groundswell of environmental progress in Wales, the Appalachia of the U.K. Its national Plaid Cymru party is more progressive and more ambitious than Britain’s three leading parties when it comes to building a low-carbon economy.
Monbiot argues that it’s the unusually flexible and open political climate that enable Wales’ success: “The English like to think of themselves as a modern and sophisticated nation, and sometimes ignorantly view the Welsh as backward and uncouth. But as far as democracy is concerned, the English are light years behind.”
I tried to make a similar case last month. After visiting Welsh cleantech businesses and research hubs for a week, I suggested it’s the political culture plus a national existential crisis brought on by the collapse of the coal-mining industry that are driving Wales’ ambitious effort to become a cleantech leader. Because West Virginia and other coal-dependent regions of the U.S. are following the same coal-driven trajectory, just a few decades behind, Wales has a lot to teach them.
If you want the audio version, I spoke with Marc Steiner of WEAA Baltimore about Wales’ lessons for Appalachia. Or you can skip right over me and listen to Marc talk to West Virginia mountain-defender Maria Gunnoe, who knows her stuff.