Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs
As 2017 comes to a close, we can reflect on the progress we have made in Wales in meeting our commitment to tackling climate change.
Firstly, I accepted the UK Committee on Climate Change advice on how we will account for emissions in Wales, where we have agreed to count for all emissions in Wales. I have asked for further advice around our pathways relating to setting our interim targets and first two carbon budgets. I look forward to receiving this advice on 19 December. I will evaluate its advice, along with wider evidence and will be discussing this with my Cabinet colleagues. I will provide a further update on our decision around this key area in the summer of 2018.
Alongside the implementation of the legislative framework, it was crucial we needed to take action now. Over the last 12 months, I have set out my ambition to achieve a carbon neutral Public Sector by 2030 and launched a Call for Evidence asking stakeholders to share their views. The responses have now been published and I am holding an event next year with senior leaders of the public sector and will provide a further update on next steps in Spring 2018.
I also announced ambitious new targets for renewable energy production with 70% of Wales’ electricity consumption to be generated from renewable sources by 2030, 1GW of renewable electricity capacity to be locally owned by 2030, and for new developments to have an element of local ownership. The call for evidence on local ownership will be issued shortly. I will be making a statement early next year updating progress from my statement last December and outlining next steps in delivering our energy ambitions. These will be crucial in identifying further measures for Wales in tackling emissions from the power and built environment sectors. As part of this work, I aim to strengthen planning policy in relation to the extraction of fossil fuels and will be consulting on changes to Planning Policy Wales early next year.
Action is also being accelerated across Government with the help of the Ministerial Task and Finish Group I have set up. We have already looked at the challenges and opportunities around retrofitting, electric vehicles and aligning carbon and financial budgets. This has enabled early action to be taken in a number of areas.
We have been working across Government to develop the Economic Action Plan placing decarbonisation as a central pillar for future prosperity. This will help to send the right signals to ensure Wales positions itself to receive the maximum economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits that decarbonisation can offer.
Wales was once again represented at COP23 in Bonn this year as part of the UK Delegation. With the international context for climate change action now clear with a roadmap in place for global decarbonisation, it is crucial we continue to work with our international partners to learn lessons and share best practice with networks such as nrg4SD and The Climate Group. I was proud to hear about the growing success of the Under 2 MOU, which is a commitment of States and Regions to at least 80% emissions reductions. The network now covers 43 countries, spanning six continents and collectively represents more than US $30 trillion in GDP, equivalent to almost 40% of the global economy showing Wales, along with others, can make a real difference. Wales also spoke as part of an Energy Transition Platform event with others industrialized states and regions such as North Rhine Westphalia, to share transition experiences and successful initiatives, supporting them to overcome barriers and enabling the transfer and adoption of innovative clean energy policies.
This year the Welsh Government, along with the Size of Wales and Centre for Alternative Technology, held an event showcasing our existing Wales for Africa Programme, focussing on our award winning Size of Wales project. The 10 Million Trees project helps to alleviate poverty, climate change adaption and climate mitigation. Six million trees have now been planted and at least 500,000 people’s livelihoods have been improved thanks to the programme.
Although Wales is only a small country, we have had a longstanding commitment around our international action. The contribution we made last year to The Climate Group’s Future Fund, has helped the Governments of Yucatán, Mexico and West Bengal, India to drive further action on climate change. Also these funds enabled São Paulo, Western Cape, Gujarat, West Bengal and Yucatán to attend the Climate Groups General Assembly and share learning and knowledge with others. The impacts of climate change hit those who are most vulnerable and ,therefore, it is crucial to have emerging economies at these important international events to share their experience and to link up with others to share learning. As a result, Wales has once again contributed $20,000 to the Future Fund and I look forward to hearing further updates next year.
The actions that will sit within our Low Carbon Delivery Plan in 2019 will touch on all the people of Wales. I understand many people do not discuss climate change on a day to day basis, although many of us behave in ways which reduce climate impacts, whether it’s the way we dispose of waste or travel to work, use our land or heat our homes. We all have a part to play and I will be launching a consultation seeking views next summer on how Wales collectively can meet its climate goals.
I look forward to 2018, which will be another significant year where we accelerate action and move another step closer towards a new low carbon future and contributing to our strategy Prosperity for All.