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Written Statement - An update on the climate change provisions of the Environment Act

Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs

In December 2016 in a written statement I outlined our decarbonisation programme, which focusses on the delivery of the requirements under the act which are:

  • Defining what emissions are counted in our Welsh account
  • Setting the decarbonisation pathway in Wales, including setting the interim targets (for 2020, 2030 and 2040) and the first 2 carbon budgets (for 2016-2020 and 2021-25)
  • Setting out how we will achieve our emission reduction targets, through our collective delivery plan covering the first carbon budget (2016-2020).

Establishing how we account for our emissions will enable us to set targets and budgets and develop the policies, which enable us to meet our targets.

The UK Committee on Climate Change (UKCCC), our independent advisory body, has now provided me with advice on how they believe we should account for emissions in Wales. I am evaluating their advice, along with wider evidence, and will shortly be discussing this with my Cabinet colleagues. I will then provide a further update on our decision around this key area.

The transition to a low carbon economy not only brings opportunities around clean growth, quality jobs and global market advantages, but also has wider benefits of enhanced places to live and work, with clean air and water and improved health outcomes. If we are to drive this agenda, we need to take a whole government approach. With this in mind, I have established a ministerial decarbonisation task and finish group with the Cabinet Secretaries for Economy and Infrastructure, Communities and Children and Finance and Local Government. The group will be looking to work together to further explore and maximise the opportunities around decarbonisation.

Until our interim targets and carbon budgets have been set, we will use our existing Climate Change Strategy (2010) targets to track progress of decarbonisation across sectors. This will ensure we are continuing to tackle our emissions in the short term, before we set our long term legislative framework. The existing commitments, as set out the Climate Change Strategy through 2 non-statutory headline targets, are a 3% annual reduction in emissions in devolved areas and a 40% reduction in total emissions by 2020.

We have once again achieved our 3% target. In 2014 emissions were 27.34 MtCO2e, a reduction of 20% from the baseline which is in excess of our target of 12% for 2014. This means there has been a 6% reduction compared with the previous year.

In terms of progress against our 40% target, we have reduced emissions by 18% compared to the base year. This is mainly due to a reduction in the use of coal in the power generation sector, a reduction in emissions from refineries and the residential sector. Whilst this shows there is significant work to be undertaken, I feel it is positive, we are moving in the right direction and there was an 8% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 compared with 2013. Our infographic shows the full breakdown of our emissions.

I am continuing to drive forward decarbonisation through my portfolio. We continue to work across government to maximise the benefit to Wales from the low carbon Wylfa Newydd project. We are considering the development of renewable energy generation targets and continually investing in energy efficiency and fuel poverty. Since 2011 our Welsh Government Warm Homes programme has improved over 39,000 homes across Wales and over the next 4 years, we will be investing £104m to increase the energy efficiency of up to a further 25,000 homes, helping to cut energy bills and improve the health and well-being of some of Wales’ most vulnerable households.

As well as driving energy efficiency in the residential sector, I am also investing in the public sector, recognising it has a crucial role to play in decarbonisation through leadership, action and as enablers of change. The technical, commercial and financial support in place through Green Growth Wales will help support the decarbonisation of the public sectors building estate and has a pipeline with a capital expenditure of approximately £500m. Finance is in the form of 0% interest loans or repayable grants with around £65m expected to be invested by the end of the current term, providing a significant economic stimulus for Wales.

Over £24m of investment has been made in the last 2 years. This has led to projected undiscounted cost savings of over £72m and reductions in CO2 emissions of over 280,000 tonnes.

As a government we have previously highlighted the need for transparency around our emissions to understand where action needs to happen. We have now launched our online platform which shows where emissions are from in Wales broken down to local authority areas, sectors and emission types.

Despite the improved performance in 2014, we as government recognise further action is needed. We are now moving into the 2nd phase of the decarbonisation programme looking at the decarbonisation pathways where, I have once again asked the UKCCC for their advice who will be holding another call for evidence. I look forward to updating you further before summer recess.

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