Wales can reach net zero by 2050, Climate Change Committee says

Photo by Jan Muehlbach on Unsplash

The Committee on Climate Change has updated its last year’s advice to state that it is possible for Wales to reach net zero by 2050.

Last year, the advice of the CCC was that the highest possible ambition for Wales was a 95% reduction in emissions by 2050.

However, the Committee warns that a cohesive, economy-wide strategy for 2050, that ties in with UK-wide plans, is urgently needed if Wales is to reach Net Zero by that date.

Climate Change Committee Chairman, Lord Deben, commented on the announcement: “Now is the time for Wales to join the Net Zero club. The 2020s are the key period to scale up the Welsh ambition to decarbonise.

“No single solution, or single sector, can deliver Net Zero alone; action is required across all areas. It will bring Wales new jobs, new industries, better health, cleaner air, and real improvements to the outstanding Welsh natural environment.”

According to the Committee, a Net Zero Wales is possible with action in four key areas:

  • Taking up low-carbon solutions. People and businesses can adopt low-carbon solutions as high-carbon options are phased out.
  • Expanding low-carbon energy supplies. New demands for clean electricity from transport, buildings and industry mean electricity supply in Wales must double by 2050. In Wales, low-carbon electricity generation will shift from 27% now to 100% by 2035, cutting Welsh power sector emissions by more than 95%. Low-carbon hydrogen, produced using electricity or from fossil gas with carbon capture and storage, is needed in shipping and parts of industry less suited to electricity use, as well as potentially in trucks.
  • Reducing demand for high-carbon activities. In line with the Committee’s recommendations for the UK as a whole, diets in Wales can shift away from meat and dairy products, waste will continue to reduce, and growth in flights and travel demand will slow. Buildings must become better insulated, and vehicle and industrial efficiency will improve.
  • Transforming land. A transformation is needed in Wales’ use of land. By 2030, 43,000 hectares of mixed woodland must be planted in Wales to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, increasing to 180,000 hectares by 2050. With the right policies this can be a new source of revenue to Welsh farmers. A further 56,000 hectares of agricultural land can shift to bioenergy production by 2050. Wales’ peatlands must be restored and managed sustainably and low-carbon farming practices can be adopted widely.

The Committee also recommends a challenging set of interim emissions targets, which should be legislated in the first half of 2021.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, added: “We are very grateful to the CCC for its work on these reports, which not only note those actions we have taken in the past to move Wales towards a net-zero status, but also recognise that we have not been diverted from our climate commitments despite the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To achieve our goals and to continue to exceed expectations we have to mobilise a collective effort involving communities and businesses as well as government at all levels.

“We will now consider the CCC’s advice alongside other information ahead of updating our climate legislation early next year.”

The CCC published their Sixth Carbon Budget, alongside with a roadmap for the whole of the UK to become a net zero society, last week.