On Wednesday, the Assembly will debate the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs (CCERA) Committee’s report on the Welsh Government’s progress on climate change mitigation. The report follows the Committee’s first annual scrutiny session of the Welsh Government on climate change. The Committee was supported in its scrutiny preparations by its Expert Reference Group.
In June, the UK Committee on Climate Change (UK CCC) published its 2018 Progress Report to Parliament. It showed that in Wales, total emissions increased by 5% in 2016, following falls in emissions in 2014 and 2015. Since 1990, emissions in Wales have fallen by 14%.
Progress in Wales has been slower than the UK as whole, partly as a result of Wales having a much larger share of industry emissions. But if the Welsh Government is to meet its own ambitious targets under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 (‘the Environment Act’) urgent action is needed across all sectors.
Policy, legislation and consultation
In 2010, the Welsh Government published its Climate Change Strategy. This committed to a reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions to a level 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. The Strategy also included a target to reduce emissions in areas within devolved competence by 3% each year from 2011, relative to a baseline of average emissions between 2006-2010. The Environment Act places new duties on the Welsh Government to reduce emissions. These include the following:
- The Welsh Government must ensure that net emissions for 2050 are at least 80% lower than the baseline (1990 or 1995);
- By the end of 2018, the Welsh Government must set interim emissions targets for 2020, 2030 and 2040;
- For each five year budgetary period the Welsh Government must set a maximum total amount for net Welsh emissions (a carbon budget), with the first two budgets to be set by the end of 2018; and
- The Welsh Government must take into account international agreements to limit increases in global average temperatures.
On 28 June, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, issued a written statement on interim emissions targets and carbon budgets under the Environment Act. She set out the interim targets for 2020, 2030 and 2040, and the first two carbon budgets:
- 2020: 27% reduction;
- 2030: 45% reduction;
- 2040: 67% reduction;
- Carbon budget 1 (2016-2020): Average of 23% reduction; and
- Carbon budget 2 (2021-2025): Average of 33% reduction.
The targets are in line with the advice the Welsh Government received from its independent advisory body, the UK CCC.
In July, the Welsh Government issued a consultation on ‘Achieving our low-carbon pathway to 2030’. The consultation seeks views on what actions the Welsh Government should take to reduce emissions to 2030.
Findings and recommendations
The CCERA Committee’s report has identified issues and made recommendations in a number of areas. The Committee was disappointed that the Welsh Government will not meet its targets for emission reduction by 2020, as set out in the Climate Change Strategy. Although, in oral evidence, the Cabinet Secretary suggested that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the economic make up of Wales, and weather patterns were responsible for this failure, the Committee “believes that these variables should have been reflected in policy formulation and factored into the development of realistic and achievable targets.
The Committee made a number of sector specific recommendations relating to the EU ETS, land management, transport, and housing and buildings.
The Welsh Government accepted 16 of the Committee’s recommendations, a further two were accepted in principle, and one was declined.
Article by Chloe Corbyn, National Assembly for Wales Research Service