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CCC Report Warning: Wales Will Fail to Meet Climate Targets

June 2023


A recent Climate Change Committee (CCC) report found that Wales will only meet their required climate targets with urgent progressive action. 

In the past, because of Wales's limited devolutionary powers, the Welsh Government claimed mitigating circumstances, suggesting the problem was out of their hands. 

However, the report alleges the "Welsh Government made insufficient progress on emissions reduction with the policy powers available [to them]". 

This blog will unpack the report's findings, understand what they mean for Wales, and assess what must be done to improve the Welsh position in the fight against climate change. 

What Does the Climate Change Committee Report Say?

The CCC report, which investigates attempts to reduce global warming whilst also assessing the countries' efforts in the fight, has warned the Labour government in Wales is not moving quickly enough to curb Welsh global warming. 

The Welsh Government has previously set the target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but the report states that if this decarbonisation is to happen, Wales must amplify its efforts. The plan to reach net zero is mapped out by a series of legislated five-yearly carbon budgets and with other interim targets.

Up and till now, The Welsh Government has managed to achieve its first carbon budget between 2016-2020 but is "not yet on track to meet its targets for the second half of this decade and beyond". 

Interestingly, the report states emissions from Wales were trending down before the pandemic and initial lockdown. 

The rate of new woodland creation was currently less than a third of the Welsh government's target of 2,000 hectares a year, in itself a "significantly less ambitious" goal than the CCC wanted to see.

There had been "little progress" in cutting emissions from farming and land use, and Wales was still "missing an overarching strategy for these sectors". 

A comprehensive portion of the report focuses on the Welsh government's failure to develop the charging infrastructure needed for electric vehicles. The report found that instead of a prospering electric car consumer boom, those who already won such a vehicle have struggled to find charging ports. This has dramatically hindered the likelihood of a progressive reduction in emissions from Welsh roads. 

Overall, the report concluded that Wales needs a 39% cut in emissions based on pre-pandemic levels over the next five years to get back on track to achieve net zero by 2050

The Welsh government will have to assess its options. For the First Minister Mark Drakeford, who has reiterated that "Wales need[s] to make more progress in the next ten years than we have in the last 30 years", this report will present his government with a challenging position. 

Scotland has been a spearhead, in the UK, for environmental positivity. The Scottish government have introduced landmark legislation that restricts the amount of harm its populace can have on the environment. Wales are not that far behind. 


What Steps is the Welsh Government Following to Aid the Fight Towards Climate Change?


The Welsh government has shown itself to be a proactive force in the fight against climate change, albeit with its limited devolutionary powers. Wales is set to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme, with users getting their money back if they return empty drinks containers made of plastic, glass, steel or aluminium. The scheme is set to go live in 2025. 

The Deposit Return Scheme is a basic yet entirely effective strategy to minimise the amount of plastic, aluminium and steel on landfill sites. (*glass might be exempt from the scheme, depending on the discretion of the UK government)

The Welsh government have explored pro-environmental initiatives such as the Environmental Protection Bill that ban single-use plastics. At the time of publication, phase one of the bill has successfully been implemented. 

In 2021, the Welsh Government published 'Net-Zero Wales'. A document detailing a series of environmental pledges to facilitate a net-zero public sector by 2030. They are;

  • Building 20,000 new low-carbon social homes for rent
  • Investing in travel options that encourage people to use public transport more and support walking and cycling.
  • Increased tree planting – including how Welsh Government will support communities to create 30 new woodlands and connect habitat areas.
  • Legislating to abolish the use of more commonly littered, single-use plastics.
  • Introducing an extended producer responsibility scheme to incentivise waste reduction by businesses
  • Ensuring wide-scale peatland restoration and sustainable management through our National Peatland Policy Ambition
  • Supporting innovation in new renewable energy technology
  • Planning for a national energy grid that is fit for a renewable future, working with network operators
  • Developing green skills in businesses - Upskilling and training employees to take advantage of the potential economic opportunities for Wales through decarbonisation, such as in manufacturing and housing.
  • Working with the public sector so that by March 2023, all public sector organisations will report their emissions and publish their plans to achieve Net Zero, to collectively achieve Net Zero across the Welsh public sector by 2030.

At the time of publication, the Welsh government have less than seven years to honour their pledges. It is incredibly vital that they do!

Failing to follow through with their pledges would lead to a catastrophic hole of missed potential, with little to no time to reverse the damage already wreaking havoc on the Welsh atmosphere. 

Concluding

The CCC report is the latest act in a story that will not go away. 

The CCC believe tree-planting and peatland restoration rates need to be higher. They also claim the charging infrastructure needed to support the transition to electric vehicles is not happening quickly enough, stuttering the predicted growth of electric vehicles in Wales. 

These regressions call on Wales to improve its environmental performance by 39% to return to pre-pandemic levels. 

The Welsh government's track record under Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford suggests a swift and decisive response. The CCC report alleges that despite their mighty aspirations, the Welsh fight against climate change is worsening. 

This alarmingly news is, sadly, nothing new. In our own report, we have cited a undeniable urgency to change behaviours. This problem is, as we all know, not exclusive to Wales. 

If governance and industry act with proactive eco friendly agendas, the world will be a greener place. 

Improvement is a necessity: failing at that would lead to catastrophe!

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