Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
Today, I am pleased to publish Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales, our plan which sets out how we will meet our first carbon budget (2016-2020). The Plan sets out 100 policies and proposals, broken down by all portfolios, which demonstrate our collective Cabinet commitment to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy in the years ahead.
The Plan outlines the Welsh Government’s approach to cut emissions and transition to a low carbon economy in a way which maximises wider benefits for Wales, ensuring a fairer, healthier and more equal society. I am clear this can only be achieved by collective action across Government, business and society.
The Plan pulls together 76 existing pieces of policy from across the Welsh Government, UK Government and the EU where decarbonisation is integrated either as a direct outcome or a wider benefit. Some of these are new Welsh Government policies which have come on stream since the start of the budget period, such as the Economic Action Plan and Renewable Energy Targets, or revamped policies such as Planning Policy Wales where decarbonisation is now a central pillar.
We are over halfway through our first carbon budget and much of the focus in this plan is about establishing future actions. We have, therefore, included 24 proposals to explore and develop future policy actions which progress the ideas for action from our consultation in 2018. I will be publishing a full Welsh Government response to the consultation later this year.
Our policy effort stretches across sectors and encourages leadership, collaboration and involvement at all levels. Many of the policies focus on helping the transition to a low carbon economy, ensuring a fair and just transition and maximising well-being opportunities for all. I will establish a Climate Just group to advise Welsh Ministers on the low carbon transition.
Whilst we have focussed on sector actions within the plan, we need transformation across all sectors and levels of society. I am, therefore, pleased Cardiff University will be the lead UK organisation tasked with establishing a new centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST). This is a major investment from the Economic and Social Research Council, which is providing £5 million for this Centre for at least 5 years.
If we are to be successful in our aims, the public sector, business and communities must adopt leadership roles. The realisation of my ambition of a carbon neutral public sector is being informed by research, which has illustrated both the good work being undertaken by the public sector and also the further opportunities for action and benefit for Wales. Many of the important actions in the plan stretch out across Government. Business has a crucial role to play in decarbonisation. Our new Economic Contract is based on the principle of public investment with a social purpose where support to expand business is provided in return for business helping us address some of the challenges we face as a country. I also recognise the importance of community leadership and the Welsh Government has today committed a further £4 million to the Welsh Government Energy Services’ Local Energy Fund, enabling even more community-led projects to take their projects forward. We are building the evidence base to make our existing and new homes energy efficient along with our retrofit programmes, which not only helps to reduce emissions but also can help to tackle fuel poverty, improve help and local skills. We are decarbonising our transport system through focusing on encouraging modal shift towards more sustainable travel and support the uptake of low emission vehicles. We are increasing our store of carbon through our woodland creation activities and we have refreshed our Woodland Strategy, providing further funding and guidance. We are also re-shaping our land management policy following and building on our successful waste policies that help move us to a circular economy.
Moving towards a low carbon economy offers enormous opportunities to create a vibrant and socially-just economy. Whilst Brexit creates uncertainty, Welsh Government is clear the path to decarbonisation puts the welfare of our people, the health of our economy, and the protection and enhancement of our natural environment front and centre. This is a critical time for Wales. We now look forward to working with all our partners both here and on the international stage in meeting the challenge of climate change.