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Written Statement - The 5th report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its implications for Wales

Alun Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently published its 5th report following one of the most comprehensive scientific review processes ever conducted.   The report sets out the evidence for human induced climate change and concludes that the warming of our climate is beyond doubt and that the evidence for human impact is even more certain than previously demonstrated.

The Welsh Government believes that all levels of government have a responsibility to take action on climate change and we will continue to drive real action in Wales.

The IPCC report shows that global temperatures are likely to be at least 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and possibly as much as 5°C higher, by the end of this century. The report highlights the increasing risk from extremes of weather which has both an economic and social cost.  We are already vulnerable to extreme weather events in Wales and we need to prepare for the expected future increase in such events.

The impacts of climate change will be felt not only in the wider global environment but in how we live our daily lives. I believe we will need to ensure that resilience is built into all of our public services and the provision of our basic needs such as energy, food and shelter.   Extreme weather can disrupt businesses, supply chains and staff travel. Businesses rely on a wide range of services including water, waste disposal, energy and ICT and their disruption has a direct impact on a business’s viability and profitability.

Climate action is key to long term economic growth as shown by the European Union’s analysis, which puts the cost of not adapting to climate change at €650 billion per annum or 5-6% of EU GDP.  However, taking early and effective action to meet these new and growing threats can also create new and significant opportunities. If we take action today then we will be able to establish a competitive advantage for our economy and stimulate businesses and economic activity which is resource efficient, innovative and sustainable.      

In Wales, we have made a good start. Our action on waste has already begun to transform our resource efficiency and will help create a resource efficient circular economy. The investment of £21million in Arbed projects is tackling fuel poverty and creating jobs as well as delivering on our climate change agenda. In the wider economy, we are seeing significant progress in improving emissions and efficiency.  Our green economy is growing as we continue to progress towards a lower carbon future.  

The Welsh Government wants to go much further. The £70 million commitment made in the draft budget for additional investment in energy efficiency and the £20 million towards flood risk demonstrate this Government’s commitment to both mitigating the impacts and tackling the causes of climate change. Our ambition is to embed the climate change challenges within our actions and decisions, as a central part of this government's agenda. This can be seen through my work with Cabinet colleagues to develop Sectoral Adaptation Plans, which build climate resilience and mainstream it into our policies and programmes.  I am also taking forward action to embed this approach in legislation, for example through natural resource planning in the Environment Bill; and working with the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty on the Future Generations Bill.

Later this year, I will be setting out more fully our progress in delivering on climate change in our annual report.  I intend to review and refresh our current Climate change strategy and ensure our policies are integrated with other portfolio areas; but the Welsh Government has no monopoly on the necessary action. I therefore intend to bring together key decision makers from across Wales to coordinate and align our resources and to set out what actions we should take together on the shared challenges of climate change.

The Welsh Government is committed to working with others and together our actions on climate change will support job creation, help grow a sustainable economy and tackle poverty.  In these ways we will help create long term prosperity for Wales.

Link to the report: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/