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Written Statement - Green Growth Wales

Carl Sargeant Minister for Natural Resources

I am today providing an update on my green growth priority.

In November 2013 Cabinet endorsed the green growth approach and as a Government we are committed to working collectively to maximise the opportunities green growth presents.  The Green Growth Steering Group, which reports directly to myself and the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, as a first step, published a green growth baseline study in February. However, green growth is not simply the responsibility of one or two Departments; instead it is a cross cutting agenda that is the responsibility of our Government as a whole. This statement details a few of the areas I am developing to help support my cabinet colleagues in this cross cutting agenda.

The sustainable development principle, as set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, is the basis upon which our green growth agenda will be developed. Green growth in Wales is about fostering economic growth, development and social equity while ensuring that our natural assets can continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies.  To do this it must stimulate investment and innovation, which will underpin sustained growth and give rise to new economic opportunities, develop our workforce and build skills, and fairly distribute the proceeds of growth through the provision of decent work.

As a Government we believe green growth goes beyond just supporting growth in the green economy, which is an important subset of our economy. We believe that green growth is about ensuring that economic growth and the environment go hand in hand across the whole economy and that it is a fallacy that greening the whole economy will not deliver jobs and growth. The drivers for change are clear. We need to pursue economic growth and development that protects our most vulnerable in society while preventing costly climate change and unsustainable natural resource use.

The benefits and opportunities of moving towards a green growth trajectory have risen up the global agenda. Following the endorsement of green growth from Ministers from 34 countries the OECD has developed a green growth strategy. The Welsh Government wants to seize the international opportunities on offer.  Wales is one of the founding signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Subnational Global Climate Leadership along with the state of California and 10 other signatories. Being part of the MoU will help demonstrate Wales’ positive actions and commitment to combat climate change on an international stage and help attract investment through green growth.

As well as countries, the business world is increasingly focusing on the sustainable use of natural resources and availability of those natural resources when considering where to locate. Wales has a significant natural resource advantage and we are determined to ensure that this advantage is maximised, but not to the cost of the natural resources themselves.

Successful markets need an effective regulatory regime and a strong strategic vision. We are putting both in place.  The Environment (Wales) Bill will provide further clarity for business in relation to the pathway for decarbonisation and resource efficiency.  It will strengthen our climate change commitments by putting in place a carbon budgeting framework working towards at least an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. It will also provide opportunities for businesses in Wales to invest in future waste management including collections, treatment, reprocessing and recovery as well as remanufacturing. This will reduce business costs as well as create jobs. 

But our commitment to green growth goes further than putting in place a legal and policy framework. We will ensure that green growth is reflected in all we do at the grass roots level, making a positive impact for the people and businesses of Wales.

Green Growth Wales is our “brand” for a suite of interventions we are developing to increase and accelerate green investment in Wales.  Our intention is to promote investment that reduces carbon emissions, covers its own costs, creates public sector saving/income over the longer term and creates economic benefit including employment. I am working closely with the Minister for EST, in respect of her responsibilities in regard to energy and relations with anchor companies, and other Cabinet Colleagues to ensure that Green Growth Wales delivers these benefits, not only enabling them to deliver on their climate commitments, but delivering them economic benefits that free up budgets for front-line services. Green Growth Wales is developing a pipeline of projects encompassing renewable energy, resource efficiency and energy from waste, with the intention to raise significant levels of private finance to support those projects. We will ensure that these projects provide new opportunities for businesses in Wales and protect and create jobs.  A package of project development support will ensure that organisations make use of the latest technologies and approaches that deliver the best energy solutions for them, and we will maximise the opportunities for Welsh businesses.

I will be coming forward with further details on Green Growth Wales before summer recess.