Coal-fired power plant in Germany

Wales struggling with emission reductions but more savings still within reach, say climate advisors

Wales can play a leading role in tackling climate change, despite the fact that it has lagged behind the rest of the UK in recent decades, according to government advisory body the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

Emissions in Wales have fallen by 19 per cent from 1990 to 2015. This compares with a 37 per cent reduction for the UK as a whole over the same period.

Wales has committed to a legally binding target to reduce its emissions in 2050 by at least 80 per cent compared to 1990 levels.

In a new report, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) suggests that achieving an 80 per cent reduction by 2050 in Wales will be more challenging than the equivalent reduction for the UK.

The CCC provides independent advice to the Welsh Government on meeting its emissions targets.

The report - ‘Building a low-carbon economy in Wales, setting Welsh climate targets’ - points to emissions from agriculture and industry, which make up a large part of Wales’ carbon budget, as being “harder to cut”.

It said that while reducing emissions from some sectors, such as electricity generation and waste, are relatively easy to determine, other sectors including agriculture and industry will be more difficult.

The CCC, chaired by Lord Deben, warned that meeting the targets would be “highly challenging”.

Lord Deben said: “Wales has set itself an ambitious but achievable emissions reduction target for 2050 as part of the global effort to tackle climate change.

“The carbon targets we are recommending today present a pathway for Wales to decarbonise its economy while protecting Welsh industry, jobs and future generations.”

Many of the emissions in Wales are from large point-sources, such as a number of power stations including the “very large” coal plant at Aberthaw, which accounts for 14 per cent of total Welsh greenhouse gas emissions.

The report recommends that the first carbon budget for the period 2016-20 limits emissions to an average of 23 per cent below 1990 levels and the second carbon budget (2021-25) to an average of 33 per cent below 1990 levels.

Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Government’s cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs, welcomed the report and said it was not just about emission reduction but also about ensuring Wales “has clean air, water, liveable places, productive farmland, energy security and good quality jobs”.

“We are already taking early action,” she said.

“I recently announced my ambition for the public sector to be net carbon zero by 2030, ambitious renewable energy targets, and only last week the economy secretary placed decarbonisation as a central pillar of our new Economic Action Plan.”

Theresa May recently announced £140m of new aid funding which is being targeted to help the world’s poorest communities build resilience to extreme weather events caused by global warming. 

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