The Welsh Government has set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but is pushing to “get there sooner”.
The announcement follows a recommendation by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC), which revealed net zero emissions, previously thought unachievable and unaffordable by experts, was now possible with ambitious policies and a ‘Team Wales’ effort.
That includes societal and behavioural changes driving a large reduction in the amount of energy and natural resources used.
The report suggested greater reductions within the industrial sector will help Wales achieve the net zero target as a large proportion of Welsh emissions come from a small number of big emitters.
Governments, communities and businesses must also work together to change how they travel, shop, heat homes and switch to lower carbon diets.
The Welsh Government’s plans include achieving cleaner air, putting an end to harmful agricultural pollution, a decisive shift away from fossil fuel extraction and towards green energy, working towards a net zero public sector by 2030 and going beyond recycling and making Wales a zero waste nation.
The #ClimateEmergency is happening now – we must act.
We have a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but we’re doing all we can to get there sooner.
We all have a part to play – are you taking action to reduce your carbon footprint? #TeamWales pic.twitter.com/Ws2CJhvyli
— Welsh Government #StayHome (@WelshGovernment) February 9, 2021
The recommended emissions reductions pathway set by CCC would mean Wales will meet its commitment under the Paris climate agreement.
Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “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.
“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.”