The UK’s Committee on Climate Change has today given its recommendations for CO2 cuts in Wales over the next decade, setting out how the region can play a leading role in tackling climate change while also growing its economy.
Wales should set carbon budgets aiming for a 23 per cent reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas levels by 2020 and a 33 per cent cut by 2025, according to the independent statutory body, which provides recommendations to the UK government and devolved administrations on how to comply with the Climate Change Act 2008.
Wales has a target to reduce its overall greenhouse gases by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050, and has so far cut emissions by 19 per cent as of 2015, while the UK as a whole has seen its emissions drop by 37 per cent over the same period.
But the CCC said achieving an overall 80 per cent CO2 cut in Wales by 2050 would be “more challenging” than the equivalent reduction for the whole of the UK, and set out a number of recommendations for CO2 cuts in specific sectors over which powers are devolved.
In order to protect “vital” Welsh industry – including steel manufacturing – it said Wales should first focus its efforts on cutting emissions from electricity generation and waste sectors, as well as moving away from the use of fluorinated gases. Under the CCC’s recommendations, CO2 cuts from Welsh industry would then take place later, in the 2030s and 2040s.
As such, the Committee gave its backing to the Welsh government’s aim to source 70 per cent of its electricity from renewables, a target it said was consistent with the CCC’s own scenarios and would help provide economic benefits to Wales as well as contributing to UK-wide decarbonisation.
But it said Wales should also focus more on tackling fuel poverty and ensuring its buildings are more energy efficient, as well as reducing emissions from transport by boosting public transport use and active travel.
Electric vehicle uptake in particular has been slow in Wales, the Committee explained, and it urged for a more widely accessible network of charging points and EV parking – especially in mid-Wales – to help accelerate the number of electric cars on the road.
On agriculture, the Committee called on the Welsh government to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after Brexit with a new subsidy regime that helps support emissions reduction and climate resilience. It added that it should aim to plant at least 4,000 hectares of trees per year.
The Committee’s report also suggests a potentially important role for carbon capture storage and utilisation (CCUS) in Wales over the coming decades.
However, there are no recommendations from the Committee on shipping or aviation sectors, although an advisory report from the CCC in April had recommended that emissions from these sectors – which have been left out of UK carbon budgets to date as they are governed by international bodies – should be accounted for in the Welsh government’s future carbon targets and plans.
Chairman of the CCC Lord Deben said Wales had set itself an ambitious but achievable emissions reduction target for 2050, and that tackling climate change could help both grow its economy while improving the well-being of its population.
“The carbon targets we are recommending today present a pathway for Wales to decarbonise its economy while protecting Welsh industry, jobs and future generations,” he said.