Progress Report: Reducing emissions in Wales

This report, required under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, looks back at the progress made in Wales.

6 June 2023

Type of publication:
Wales reports

Country focus:

Carbon budgets, targets and progress

This report, required under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, looks back at the progress made in Wales since the Act was passed, and assesses whether Wales is on track to meet its currently legislated emissions reductions targets.

3. Key messages

With an ambitious target to reach Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, action on decarbonisation in Wales must now accelerate. Wales’s journey to Net Zero is mapped out by a series of legislated five-yearly carbon budgets and decadal interim targets. While the First Carbon Budget (2016-2020) has been achieved, Wales is not yet on track to meet its targets for the second half of this decade and beyond.

  • The First Carbon Budget (2016-2020) was achieved. Welsh greenhouse gas emissions decreased to an average of 28% below 1990 levels during the First Carbon Budget period. Wales has therefore achieved its First Carbon Budget, which required a 23% reduction.
  • Decarbonisation indicators. Tangible progress has been insufficient in many areas that are dependent on Welsh Government policy powers. Most notably, tree-planting rates and peatland restoration rates are far too low, and development of the charging infrastructure needed to support the transition to electric vehicles is not happening quickly enough.
  • Policy progress. Wales has taken some positive steps, for example the recent decision to cancel all major road projects on environmental grounds and the welcome focus ministers have placed on skills, jobs and public engagement for the Net Zero transition via several public engagement campaigns and a Skills Action Plan. But the Welsh Government is not using its policy powers to full effect.
  • Third Carbon Budget (2026-2030). The middle of the Third Carbon Budget is only five years away, and by then Wales should have reduced emissions by 39% compared to pre-pandemic (2019) levels. Policy action in all sectors across the economy is now needed.

4. Recommendations to Government

Table 1
Recommendations - Progress Report: Reducing emissions in Wales
IDRecommendationTimingPrioritySector(s)Devolved or reserved?Topic, Subsector or Theme
R2022-043Provide detail on how post-CAP agricultural subsidies and schemes in Wales will target incentives and delivery for climate mitigation alongside wider environmental goals such as climate change adaptation and biodiversity.2022YesAgriculture & land useMostly devolvedCAP reform
R2022-199Publish a transparent and quantified link between policies and milestones, and the emissions reduction they correspond to in the sectoral pathways set out in the Second Welsh Carbon Budget.2022YesCross-cuttingMostly devolvedGovernance
R2022-327Set ambitious recycling targets for 2030 and beyond, improving on the 70% target for 2025.H1 2024YesWasteMostly devolvedWaste prevention
R2023-004Set out policies or support to capture methane emissions from landfill sites, in addition to improving the monitoring of emissions.H1 2024YesWasteMostly devolvedLandfill
R2023-005Set out how Wales's pathway for reducing emissions in the waste sector will be achieved - including policies, funding/investment needs and provision, and any dependencies or implications for other UK nations. H1 2024YesWasteMostly devolvedStrategy
R2023-018Monitor EV uptake in Wales and assess whether there are opportunities for further policies and incentives to drive adoption forward more quickly than through the ZEV mandate alone. This should consider opportunities to maximise emissions savings and deliver co-benefits for Welsh people.OngoingYesSurface transportMostly devolvedElectric cars and vans
R2023-020Develop and publish a full delivery plan for how to realise the ambition of reducing per-person car demand by 10% by 2030. This should include consideration of how measures that limit car usage will interact with those that enable more sustainable modes.H1 2024YesSurface transportMostly devolvedCar demand
R2023-027Continue to work with the UK Government on industrial decarbonisation in Wales, formally requesting some specific support measures, including for the adoption of CCUS and hydrogen in the South Wales Industrial Cluster. OngoingYesIndustryMostly reservedBusiness
R2023-029Work with local authorities to develop an agreed framework of what aspects of Net Zero central and local government are responsible for and how these will be coordinated. This should lead to a clearer shared understanding of roles and responsibilities which can be communicated across local government.2023YesCross-cuttingMostly devolvedGovernance
R2023-034Urgently address the funding gap for new land management actions in the farmed landscape for the year 2024, between the Glastir Scheme ending in late 2023 and the new Sustainable Farming Scheme beginning in 2025, to ensure delivery does not lose momentum.Q3 2023YesAgriculture & land useMostly devolvedCAP reform
R2023-039Develop a detailed plan for decarbonising buildings and reaching Net Zero targets, incorporating data from Local Area Energy Plans. The plan should include estimates of investment requirements and yearly targets for deployment of low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures. It should identify policy areas which are under Welsh Government control and those which require coordination with the UK Government.2024YesBuildingsEqual responsibilityBuildings decarbonisation
R2023-040Fully assess the level of investment required to decarbonise social housing and make long-term plans for delivering the funding required. Evaluate the cost effectiveness of retrofitting social housing to reach an EPC ‘A’ rating, and review the proposed target.H1 2024YesBuildingsMostly devolvedResidential buildings
R2023-041Fully assess the level of investment required to decarbonise public buildings and make long-term plans for delivering the funding required.H1 2024YesBuildingsMostly devolvedPublic buildings
R2023-054Implement a strategy to address non-financial barriers to achieve annual tree-planting rates of at least 4,500 hectares/year in Wales by 2030, rising to 7,500/year by 2035.H1 2024YesAgriculture & land useMostly devolvedForestry
R2023-112Fully assess the level of investment required to decarbonise fuel poor homes and make long-term plans for delivering the funding required.H1 2024YesBuildingsMostly devolvedFuel poor homes
R2023-131Work closely as part of a Minister-led infrastructure delivery group, and in conjunction with the new Electricity Networks Commissioner, to ensure enabling initiatives for energy infrastructure are taken forward at pace and necessary policy changes are implemented in Wales, to deliver a decarbonised and resilient power system by 2035. Wales's spatial planning regime should adequately balance local impacts on natural capital with the need for sufficient electricity network capacity, delivered in a timely fashion, to accommodate expansion of renewable electricity generation capacity in line with UK Government targets and Welsh Government ambition.2023YesElectricity supplyMostly reservedNetworks; Renewables
R2022-111Drawing on the recommendations of the Auditor General for Wales, publish plans for future iterations of the Warm Homes Programme to tackle fuel poverty and decarbonise homes, addressing the scheme's reliance on fossil fuel heating and slow roll-out.2023BuildingsMostly devolvedFuel-poor homes
R2022-328Set out and implement additional policies necessary to achieve waste reduction and recycling targets, as part of delivering the Beyond Recycling Strategy more broadly. Specifically, greater focus on removing plastics and textiles from residual waste as well as greater focus on waste prevention and circular economy are needed.2023WasteMostly devolvedWaste prevention
R2023-002Participate in the planned GB-wide F-gas cap scheme, either administered by the Environment Agency or through a Welsh regulator.2023F-gasesMostly reservedF-gases
R2023-003Review the use of F-gases in Wales’s health service and take action to educate clinicians and patients on the global warming impacts of inhalers.OngoingF-gasesMostly reservedF-gases
R2023-006Publish a decarbonisation strategy for Welsh Businesses, including a review of opportunities to prioritise Net Zero objectives within Welsh Government incentives, procurement requirements, finance provisions and planning policy levers.H1 2024Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedBusiness and Finance
R2023-007Strengthen support available to SMEs in Wales to respond to Net Zero, including through expanding assistance available through Business Wales and Development Bank of Wales.OngoingCross-cuttingMostly devolvedBusiness and Finance
R2023-008Set out an aviation decarbonisation pathway to 2050 in line with Wales's Carbon Budgets and Net Zero target.H1 2024AviationMostly devolvedDemand
R2023-009Work with the UK Government to ensure that Cardiff Airport is prepared for SAF uptake from 2025 onwards. This includes an enabling regulatory environment, infrastructure and locally upskilled workers.OngoingAviationMostly reservedSustainable aviation fuel
R2023-011Support the UK Government in pushing for inclusion of a Net Zero 2050 target in the International Maritime Organisation's 2023 update of its Greenhouse Gas Strategy.H1 2023ShippingMostly reservedInternational
R2023-013Develop a plan for deploying shore power and electric recharging infrastructure at all of Wales’s major ports. This should include identifying roles and responsibilities for delivery and providing support and incentives to drive investment. This could be included in the Welsh National Ports and Maritime Plan.Q3 2023ShippingEqual responsibilityLow carbon fuels
R2023-014Set out in the Wales National Ports and Maritime Plan a shipping decarbonisation pathway in line with Wales's Carbon Budgets and Net Zero target and how Ports will enable uptake of low carbon shipping fuels and electrification.Q3 2023ShippingMostly reservedCross-cutting
R2023-015The Welsh Government should work with the Civil Aviation Authority to begin collecting passenger origin data to track Welsh passengers travelling to English airports to fly.Q3 2023AviationMostly devolvedDemand
R2023-017Work with other devolved administrations and the UK Department for Transport to ensure that published vehicle licensing statistics present an accurate picture of EV uptake by nation.H1 2024Surface transportEqual responsibilityElectric cars and vans
R2023-019Increase chargepoint deployment to meet the ambition to provide one public chargepoint for every 7-11 EVs by 2025.2025Surface transportMostly devolvedElectric vehicle charging infrastructure
R2023-021Agree and publish funding settlements for active travel beyond 2024/25. Ideally, these should provide certainty on funding availability for a number of years.2023Surface transportMostly devolvedActive travel
R2023-022Develop a more joined-up, straightforward, and affordable system of public transport fares across Wales.2023Surface transportMostly devolvedPublic transport
R2023-023Publish the National Freight and Logistics Plan, including policies on demand-side measures such as urban consolidation and modal shift.2024Surface transportMostly devolvedFreight demand
R2023-024Assess the potential for large-scale hydrogen production and supporting infrastructure in Wales beyond 2023/24 and coordinate with the UK Government on how Wales can best contribute to UK wide plans.Q1 2024Fuel supply Mostly reservedHydrogen
R2023-025Produce a Bioenergy Action Plan clarifying the position on bioenergy in Wales, setting out its best use, key delivery mechanisms, available funding, licensing requirements and future timelines.2024Fuel supply Mostly reservedBioenergy
R2023-026Identify local and national requirements for, and opportunities from, industrial decarbonisation in the National Energy Plan for Wales and Local Area Energy Plans.2024IndustryMostly reservedPlanning
R2023-028Require all public bodies to identify the actions required to meet the 2030 public sector decarbonisation goal and embed these actions within their corporate plans and reporting.Q1 2024Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedGovernance
R2023-030Share best practice to enable local authorities to improve the quality of their climate action plans.2023Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedGovernance
R2023-031Build on the approach taken in the Active Travel Fund to develop a programme of longer-term funding for local authority delivery of Net Zero that is aligned to their identified roles and responsibilities.2024Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedGovernance
R2023-032Map out interdependencies between reserved and devolved powers and how they might impact decarbonisation in all economic sectors, and use the results to identify significant risks to the delivery of Net Zero and construct a plan to manage them.H1 2024Cross-cuttingEqual responsibilityGovernance
R2023-033Move beyond the voluntary nature of current CAP replacement schemes by setting a strong regulatory baseline that strengthens rules such as those under the Basic Payment Scheme and retains them in Welsh legislation.
2024Agriculture & land useMostly devolvedCAP reform
R2023-035Ensure that funding and incentives are set at the correct level to meet the Welsh Government peatland restoration target of 1800 hectares per year by 2030. By 2035, 58% of peatland should be under restoration management, and 79% by 2050. All upland peat should be under restoration management by 2045.H1 2024Agriculture & land useMostly devolvedPeatlands
R2023-036Maintain and enhance incentives to support agroforestry and hedgerows in the Welsh farmed landscape over the transition to the new post-CAP framework. Plant trees on 2% of farmland by 2025 while maintaining its primary use, rising to 5% by 2035, and extend hedgerows by 20% by 2035 and better manage existing hedgerows.H1 2024Agriculture & land useMostly devolvedAgroforestry and hedgerows
R2023-042Conduct an urgent review of planning policies (including the details of permitted development rights) which may restrict installations of low-carbon heating and energy efficiency measures, and amend regulations where appropriate.H1 2024BuildingsMostly devolvedPlanning regulations
R2023-043Update building regulations to ensure that all new buildings are resilient to climate change impacts, and incorporate ultra-high energy efficiency standards and low-carbon heating. Ensure that these new standards will be in place by 2025. Ensure that the standards mean that no new buildings are connected to the gas grid from 2025. Define clear transitional arrangements which will require any buildings which have not meaningfully commenced on site within a year of the implementation date to meet the new standards.2024BuildingsMostly devolvedNew buildings
R2023-044Design and implement a public engagement strategy which will raise awareness of the changes required to decarbonise buildings and provide advice to consumers on retrofitting homes.2024BuildingsEqual responsibilityPublic engagement
R2023-045Quantify the skills and workforce requirements for decarbonising buildings, and develop policies to support meeting these requirements.H1 2024BuildingsMostly devolvedWorkers and skills
R2023-046Move forward with plans to develop a long-term strategy to promote a dietary shift, and consider explicitly integrating sustainability considerations and considering setting targets for dietary shifts. H1 2024Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedPublic engagement
R2023-047Publish the new ‘Strategy for Public Engagement and Action’, and the new national ‘Climate Action Wales’ campaign and website in summer 2023, including key topics such as road and air travel, diet and home heating. Establish an effective monitoring approach to track the effectiveness of public engagement communications and campaigns, and share lessons learnt with the UK Government and other Devolved Administrations. Q3 2023Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedPublic engagement
R2023-048Set out a strategy to support a just transition.2024Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedJust transition
R2023-049Carry out a feasibility study that assesses the deployment potential of different engineered removals technologies, considering input requirements including biomass, access to CCS networks and impacts on energy systems. 2024Engineered removalsMostly reservedEngineered removals
R2023-050Publish the Timber Industrial Strategy. This document should set out an ambitious target for increased use of Welsh-grown timber in construction and introduce policies that encourage the use of timber in the construction of buildings in Wales. 2023Engineered removalsMostly devolvedWood in Construction
R2023-051Review existing skills and training programmes in coordination with Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and set out how these will close Net Zero Skills gaps and where new schemes are needed to address gaps. Q1 2024Cross-cuttingEqual responsibilityWorkers and skills
R2023-052Define the skills and workforce requirements for low-carbon manufacturing in Wales and develop policies to support meeting them.2024IndustryEqual responsibilityWorkers and skills
R2023-055Build on the UK Climate Assembly process and consider the creation of a Welsh Climate Assembly, including to address aspects of climate change policy which most significantly interact with people’s everyday lives or may be challenging.2024Cross-cuttingMostly devolvedPublic engagement
R2023-122Proposals to attract private sector investment into woodland creation need to be firmed up as soon as is practicableQ3 2023Agriculture & land useMostly devolvedForestry
R2023-123Where appropriate, the SFS should consider rewarding the environmental benefits that the planting of perennial energy crops can deliver on arable land in the same way that England’s Sustainable Farming Incentive has confirmed it will2024Agriculture & land useMostly devolvedBioenergy
R2023-159Develop and maintain a sustained dialogue with rural communities to understand and embed their views into a rural just transition.2024Agriculture & land useMostly devolvedPublic engagement


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