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Griffiths launches consultation on Wales’s carbon future

Words: Laura Edgar
Climate change / Shutterstock_86013754

Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, has launched a consultation on the government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions.

Wales is required to reduce its emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 compared with the levels recorded in 1990. Interim targets have been set for 2020, 2030 and 2040.

While new greener industries have grown, such as electric vehicle manufacturing and low-carbon energy technologies, the Welsh Government acknowledges that a large proportion of Wales’s energy still comes from fossil fuels.  

“Many homes have solid walls, making them more costly to insulate, and many homes are ‘off-grid’. The rural nature of much of Wales can make environmentally friendly travel more difficult.”

The plan focuses on a number of areas, including agriculture, transport and waste, as the government looks to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.

In a section entitled How We’ll Get There: Creating the Right Conditions, the consultation document states that the planning system has an “important role in facilitating decarbonisation”.

The revised Planning Policy Wales (PPW) sets out creating sustainable places as the goal of the planning system. It sets out several policy changes aimed at facilitating decarbonisation, such as strengthening the policy objective of reducing car travel and increasing active travel and use of public transport. It also indentifies coal, and onshore oil and gas extraction as the “least preferred” source of fuel, and requires local planning authorities to establish targets for renewable energy generation in their development plans.

Currently being prepared, the National Development Framework is expect to ensure that the planning system in Wales “plays a key role in facilitating clean growth and decarbonisations, and helps build resilience to the impacts of climate change”.

The consultation document also refers to the Welsh Government’s National Marine Plan. Renewable energy, such as wind, wave and tidal, is identified as one of five marine sectors that presents a significant opportunity for sustainable growth. One of the plan’s objectives is to maximise the sustainable development of these renewable energy resources.

Achieving Our Low-Carbon Pathway to 2030 suggests:

  • Supporting the development of regional and local energy planning to address the supply, distribution and use of energy.
  • Considering waste heat recovery and use as part of the approach to heat policy.
  • Developing a charging network that encourages early take-up of electric vehicles.
  • Setting higher energy-efficiency standards for new-builds through reviewing Building Regulations Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power).
  • Delivering buildings that are more sustainable by using innovative construction techniques to reduce and meet the energy demand within buildings and increase the use of sustainable materials.
  • Revising the regulatory and support regimes to increase tree planting to at least 2,000 hectares a year, aiming to increase this to 4,000 hectares.

Griffiths said: “The Paris agreement not only sets the context for tackling climate change, but for the decarbonisation of the global economy. Action on climate change will result in cleaner air and water, and will not only improve our health and well-being, it will lift people out of fuel poverty and create new opportunities for green industries.

“This consultation will open up a dialogue on how we tackle the challenge of climate change together in Wales.”

Achieving Our Low-Carbon Pathway to 2030 can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Image credit | Shutterstock