Wales lagging behind in reducing carbon emissions

Chair of the Assembly Cross Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, Mark Isherwood AM, has today (December 12) emphasised the need for Wales to do more to reduce carbon emissions.

During his opening remarks as Chair of the first session at the Policy Forum for Wales Keynote Seminar on ‘Energy Policy in Wales and Enabling the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy - Priorities for Cutting Emissions, Infrastructure and Investment, and Supporting the Economy’, Mr Isherwood referred to the fact that UK emissions as a whole reduced by five percent in 2016, but Welsh emissions increased by five percent between 2015 and 2016, and spoke of action needed to address this.

He said:

“The 2016 Environment (Wales) Act set a 2050 target to reduce emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels and provided the legislative framework for establishing a carbon budgeting approach in Wales.

“This Act is part of a wider framework in Wales, including the Well-Being of Future Generations Act, which places tackling climate change within the context of wider changes to how Welsh society works.”

In June this year the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 compared with the previous target of at least 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels.

Mr Isherwood continued:

“UK emissions reduced by 42 percent between 1990 and 2015, when Wales saw only a 19 percent reduction.

“UK emissions as a whole reduced by 5 percent in 2016, but Welsh emissions increased by five percent between 2015 and 2016.”

Mr Isherwood also spoke about energy efficient homes and the need to improve the housing stock in Wales.

He said:

“Proposals in the Welsh Government’s recently launched five-year blueprint, Prosperity for All: A Climate Conscious Wales, include the creation of 25,000 more energy efficient homes by 2021.

“Speaking in the Assembly Chamber last year as Chair of the Cross Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, I stated that ‘Better insulation, smarter lighting and appliances, and smarter heating systems could reduce the emission of a household by 0.6 tonnes of co2 per year, and will save the householder an average of £184 a year.’

“Improving the housing stock will therefore both cut emissions and help tackle fuel poverty. However, we must also recognise the challenges presented by Wales having the oldest housing stock in the UK.”
Mr Isherwood also referred to the challenges in developing sustainable, agile, multimodal transport solutions for Wales.

He said:

“The ability to store large amounts of energy is critical to renewable energy because sunshine and wind don’t simply appear at convenient times when humans need electricity, but if all conventional cars and public vehicles are replaced by electric cars and vehicles, the world would run out of lithium, which is used in batteries, in around five decades.”

Mr Isherwood added:

“At the recent Assembly Cross Party Group on STEMM, Sarah Jones, Immediate Past Chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers Wales Cymru, spoke about her work as a specialist civil engineering consultant in the nuclear sector.

“She showed that UK energy security, including back up for intermittent renewable energy, was still dependent upon fossil fuels, predominantly gas, and argued that the UK needed far higher carbon neutral nuclear base-line energy production to address this.

“Horizon Nuclear Power told me this summer that Anglesey’s Wylfa Project is not dead, and Trawsfynydd is also tipped as a front runner to secure the development of Advanced Small Modular Reactors.

“The UK Government has announced £220 million funding towards the development of a nuclear fusion power station by 2040, and this week, the Welsh Government has launched a consultation on its Clean Air Plan for Wales.”