Wales commits to 2050 net zero but sets out ambitions to ‘get there sooner’

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Today the Welsh Government has set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 but has announced to be pushing to “get there sooner”.

This announcement follows a recommendation report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published in December, which revealed that the net zero emissions deadline was now possible with ambitious policy that ties in with UK-wide plans.

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

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, commented on the announcement: “We were the first country in the world to declare a climate emergency, but now we will use the new science to make our long-held ambition of a Net Zero Wales, a reality.

“While we have set our intention to achieve this by 2050 in law today, we will continue to do all we can to get there sooner.

“The global climate outlook is grave, and we will not shy away from stopping harmful emissions being pumped into our atmosphere and heating our planet. Business as usual is not an option.

“As with COVID, climate change will impact us all, but the stark reality remains our most vulnerable communities will be hit the hardest.

“The transition towards a Net Zero Wales must be fair and just, a green and clean future which means good quality jobs and leaves no communities behind.

“While we are a small country, we punch big when it comes to doing the right thing.

“Wales was one of the worst recyclers in the world before devolution, and now it’s one of the best. We were central to the industrial revolution as we supplied the world with coal from our hillsides, but now we look to a future of green energy and jobs. We also banned fracking as we knew the risks to our environment and the safety to the people of Wales were far too high.

“Perhaps most importantly, we are the first country in the world to have enshrined in law a Future Generations Act, ensuring that any decision the government makes today must be the right thing for our children and grandchildren, and their children too.

“These ambitious new targets to make a Net Zero Wales is the right thing to do, but not the easiest thing to do.

“Through COVID we have shown a Team Wales effort that has saved lives and protected our NHS, and I am calling on everyone to use the same spirit to build a healthier, cleaner and greener Wales for our future generations.”

The new evidence from the CCC says greater reductions within the industrial sector will help achieve this goal, as a large proportion of Welsh emissions come from a small number of big emitters, such as Port Talbot steelworks.

The report also highlights the need for everyone in Wales to do their bit to drive emissions down, with more than half of the recommendations being partly or fully driven by societal or behavioural changes.

Welsh Government has already announced a suite of measures this year to respond to the climate emergency and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

These include plans on achieving cleaner air, putting an end to agricultural pollution, a shift away from fossil fuel extraction and towards green energy, working towards a net zero public sector in Wales by 2030, and making Wales a zero waste nation.

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has also announced the creation of a National Forest for Wales, where a connected forest ecosystem will extend the length of the country.