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Written Statement - 19th Meeting of the Climate Change Commission for Wales 6/7 October 2011

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John Griffiths, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development

I am pleased to report on the most recent meeting of the Climate Change Commission for Wales, held on 6/7 July in Wrexham and chaired by Peter Davies.

I began by saying a few words on our new ‘Preparing for a Changing Climate’ guidance which was published in October.

This new statutory guidance forms a key part of the Welsh Government’s approach in implementing the Climate Change Act.  I believe that this new guidance is vital to the success of the Adaptation Framework which was set out in the Climate Change Strategy.

Earlier this year, we consulted on how best to guide and direct organisations to prepare for the impacts of climate change.  Our consultation found that there was strong support for the proposed phased approach to adaptation assessment and planning, an approach which the Adaptation Task and Finish Group helped to shape.

The new guidance sets out a five-part approach for developing a planned response to a changing climate.  The first two sections of the guidance, which focus on understanding adaptation and investigating the potential issues, will be followed early next year by further sections focussed on planning, implementation, monitoring and review.

I informed the Commission that later this year I will publish our National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management. We are committed to continue to invest significant funding in flood risk and coastal erosion management projects across Wales, but increasingly we will see more investment being targeted at raising awareness of the risks among communities.  Our ultimate aim is to improve awareness to drive wider behaviour change and adaptation work, increase personal resilience to flooding, and to help communities take action to enhance their own resilience.

I outlined some of our energy efficiency and fuel poverty work.  We are now in the process of procuring scheme managers to deliver the second phase of Arbed, our flagship strategic energy efficiency programme.  I am confident that Phase 2 of Arbed, which will begin to roll-out early next year, will make a real difference to our communities and help to reduce energy usage and emissions from some of Wales’ most vulnerable households.

Over the summer, we have continued to work closely with the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change on proposals for Green Deal prior to a formal consultation on the secondary legislation this autumn.

I am also holding a series of meetings with energy companies to discuss the recent energy price rises and to assess what actions energy companies are taking to support vulnerable households.

I announced Pontrobert Community Centre (near Welshpool) as the winner of our Climate Change Challenge, following the 2010-11 challenge which also involved two other community centres in Monmouth and Narberth.  The community centres have each made changes to the ways their buildings use energy and water, and have engaged with user groups to reduce their carbon footprint.  The Carbon Trust, Energy Saving Trust and Dŵr Cymru have all provided support during the challenge, which forms part of our national PR campaign.

We are now planning a new PR campaign for 2012, which will be more focussed on specific audience segments.

I updated the Commission on the 10:10 campaign, which involved reducing emissions from grid electricity, fossil fuel use and business travel across the Welsh Government’s administrative estate by 10% within a year.  I was pleased to report that the Welsh Government reduced its emissions by 11% during the action year.  We achieved this through an impressive reduction in staff travel, improvements in ICT efficiency, and rationalisation of the buildings we use, as well as investment in carbon reduction projects.  The challenge now is to build on this success and continue to drive down emissions, through our internal Carbon Management Strategy.

I confirmed that we published our annual Sustainable Development Indicators in August and launched our statutory Sustainable Development Annual Report in September.  I was pleased to confirm that an independent review of the effectiveness of our Sustainable Development Scheme, in line with our statutory duty, is now underway.

The Sustainable Development Indicators can be found at:http://wales.gov.uk/docs/statistics/2011/110830susdev11en.pdf

The Sustainable Development Annual Report can be found at:http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/publications/110922sdaren.pdf

Finally, I confirmed that the 2009 greenhouse gas emission figures for Wales were published last month. 

The figures show that emissions in 2009 fell significantly.  The last twenty years have seen dramatic changes in how we live and treat our environment, so this is welcome news.  At the same time, however, it is important that we recognise that the economic downturn was the major factor in driving down emissions during this period.  Looking ahead, we must maintain and look to enhance our efforts to reduce emissions and everyone has a role to play here.

Of course, as a result of emissions falling in 2009, the provisional 2006-10 baseline emission figure will fall, making achievement of our 3% target all the more challenging.

Detailed figures can be found at:
http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/reports?report_id=677

The Commission meeting also included a debate on the role of the Local Authority in delivering the climate change agenda, a discussion on development of the Commission’s first annual report to the Welsh Government with the newly appointed contractors (CAG Consultants) and a presentation on the UK Committee on Climate Change’s report to the Welsh Government on our progress in delivering the Climate Change Strategy for Wales.

The Commission visited the Sharp manufacturing plant in Wrexham to see first hand how the company makes and produces solar panels.  The visit also included a visit to the newly developed solar centre, which was completed last year. The Commission later attended an adaptation workshop which aimed to explore ways of addressing the risks climate change poses to communities, businesses and households alike.

The Climate Change Commission is next due to meet in Cardiff in December 2011.

The Minutes of the October Commission meeting can be found at:
http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/meetings/111006commissiondraftminutesen.doc