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AMs demand tree cover drive to curb climate change

Words: Roger Milne
Tree coverage / Shutterstock_383852017

Members of the National Assembly for Wales have pilloried Welsh ministers over the government’s failure to meet climate change targets and urged the administration to commit to a national target of 20 per cent urban tree cover.

A Welsh Assembly committee report, just published, has highlighted that the government has a target of 100,000 hectares of new woodland over the two decades up to 2030, but so far has created just 3,500 hectares.

Back in 2010 the Welsh Government set out a target of reducing greenhouse gases in Wales by 3 per cent year-on-year, and at least a 40 per cent reduction by 2020.

However, the assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee was told by the government that those targets won’t be met. Ministers blamed difficulties with the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, the economic make-up of Wales and weather patterns.

But the committee concluded that these variables should have been considered when the policies were developed and targets set.

“The Welsh Government’s targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Wales were ambitious, but attainable,” said Mike Hedges AM, chair of the committee.

“That the government will miss these targets by some margin is deeply disappointing, and the committee is not convinced by some of the reasoning behind the failure.

“We believe there needs to be a much more coordinated approach across government departments if Wales is to truly become a greener, more sustainable nation.

“In the short term we accept the view of the [UK] Committee on Climate Change that the Welsh Government revise down its targets.

“We have made a number of recommendations in our report around agriculture, forestry, housing and transport which we believe will ensure ministers will deliver on their climate change commitments and obligations.”

The committee was sceptical of the government’s ambition to deliver zero carbon affordable homes by 2020, unconvinced there was a coherent strategy for electric car charging infrastructure and has requested ministers to provide the government’s carbon assessments of the M4 relief road project.

The Welsh Government’s progress on climate change mitigation: Annual Report of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee can be found on the National Assembly for Wales website (pdf).

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