Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
In response to a request from the Welsh, Scottish and UK Governments to reassess the UK’s long-term emissions targets, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published ‘Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming’ on 2 May. The Committee’s headline recommendation is for the adoption of a target to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. In order for this target to be reached, their advice recommends the Welsh Government adopt a target to reduce emissions by 95% by 2050 against the 1990 baseline.
The Welsh Government already has a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ‘at least 80%’ in 2050, in the Environment (Wales) Act. The advice from the CCC makes it clear the increase from 80% to 95% is a substantial change and requires a serious shift in policy response to match it.
On 2 May I issued a Written Statement welcoming the CCC report, committing us to reviewing our 2050 target and reporting back to the National Assembly before setting the third carbon budget by the end of 2020.
I recently declared a climate emergency on behalf of the Welsh Government. Today I am formally accepting the recommendation of the CCC to indicate the Welsh Government is committed to delivering the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions required to make our contribution to a net zero target for the UK. In line with the CCC advice, I intend to bring regulations to the Assembly next year to amend the existing 2050 target. At the same time I will bring regulations to set our third carbon budget and amend our interim targets and existing budgets, as necessary.
Achievement of these targets would mean the UK ends its contribution to global warming within 30 years and fulfils our commitments under the Paris Agreement. We believe taking early, decisive action in this way can help to inspire others to take the steps necessary to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
In March, we published Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales containing detailed sector-by-sector emissions profiles and 100 policies and proposals to achieve a low-carbon Wales. The plan makes our position clear – we believe we must continuously raise our ambition in order to meet the challenge of climate change and to secure maximum benefits for the wellbeing of Wales through the transition to a low carbon economy.
In view of this and the declaration of a climate emergency following publication of the plan, we believe whilst accepting the CCC advice, we must go further. Therefore, on behalf of the Welsh Government I am declaring our ambition today to bring forward a target for Wales to achieve net zero emissions no later than 2050. In order to identify opportunities for even more rapid decarbonisation in Wales I will work closely with the CCC and other stakeholders, as described in Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales.
The CCC report makes it clear the scale and pace of change required to meet a net zero target is greater than any other planned economic transition in modern times. Yet with this challenge there are also opportunities for us to make Wales fairer, healthier, more environmentally resilient, and more prosperous.
Critically, the costs of inaction are incalculably high. Even if the commitments made in the Paris Agreement are all met, there is still a significant risk global warming will reach levels in this century which will cause catastrophic and irreparable damage to Earth’s ecosystems, at immense cost to human society. The Welsh Government takes Wales’ global responsibilities seriously and therefore we must do absolutely everything we can.