CCC highlights progress made by the Welsh Government towards reducing emissions and preparing for climate change – 18 October 2011

In a report published today, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has highlighted progress made by the Welsh Government towards reducing emissions and preparing for climate change.

One year ago the Welsh Government set out a strategy to achieve its ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 3% annually over the next decade.

The Committee’s report considers latest emissions data, showing that emissions in 2009 fell by around 14% as a result of the recession, and suggests that these are likely to have increased in 2010 due to the cold winter.

Progress reducing underlying emissions has been made through successful implementation of Welsh energy efficiency programmes, which have outperformed those for mainland Britain as a whole, insulating around 20,000 cavity walls and 34,000 lofts in 2010-11, and the equivalent of around 20% of the solid walls insulated in 2010, despite only accounting for 5% of the total housing stock.

On waste, the Welsh have set a UK first by setting targets for waste recycling in legislation, and have made significant progress improving recycling rates and reducing waste sent to landfill.

Going forward, the Committee has made a number of recommendations in order to build on progress achieved:

  • Acceleration of energy efficiency implementation will be required, and initiatives scaled up using funding from the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation.
  • On transport, it will be important to continue to roll out the Sustainable Travel Centres initiatives, and travel planning measures throughout the urban population.
  • Evidence suggests that there is significant potential to reduce emissions from agriculture, much of which can save money for farmers; clear policy ambition should be set out and incentives aligned with this ambition.
  • The Welsh Government should also lead by example by committing to making more significant cuts to the carbon footprint of the Government estate, and helping to encourage emission reductions throughout the wider public, business and voluntary sectors in Wales, which are important part of the meeting the strategy’s stretching targets.

On adaptation, the Welsh Government has a good framework in place and has started to deliver on some of the key measures in the last year, mainly focusing on building capacity within organisations and ensuring policies in priority areas factor climate change in to their decision-making.

Over the coming year, it will be important to start to implement actions to encourage the uptake of low-regrets measures and ensure that decisions with long-term consequences are explicitly considering the costs and opportunities from a changing climate and responding appropriately.

David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the Committee said:

“The Welsh Government has made good progress this year in setting out ambitious targets and a sound strategy to support these. It has been particularly successful on energy efficiency improvement. Our report highlights the need to build on progress made, through further identifying opportunities and putting in place new policies to accelerate the pace of emissions reductions and prepare for climate change.”

Welsh Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths said:

“This report is very encouraging for Wales and I am pleased it acknowledges our continued work to drive down carbon emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

“The report is particularly positive about our efforts to increase energy efficiency and to improve waste management and acknowledges the framework that we have put in place to build climate change adaptation into decision making processes across the public, private and third sectors.

“Of course there is still more to do and the report encourages us to build on our solid work within the transport, agriculture and business sectors to drive down emissions and to continue the progress we are making in delivering action that will enhance Wales’ overall capability to respond to the impacts of climate change.  I will be working closely with my Cabinet colleagues to make this a reality. ”

The CCC was asked by the Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, to provide advice on the progress made towards reducing emissions and preparing for climate change in Wales between 2010 and 2011. The Welsh Climate Change Strategy was published a year ago.

Read the CCC’s letter to John Griffiths, Welsh Environment Minister here.

Read the full report here.