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The Welsh Assembly Government

The Welsh Assembly Government
3 million (2010)
£43 billion (2010)
The Welsh Assembly Government


GHG emissions (year): 42.6 million tons CO2e. For more info on political and economic context, see below.

Wales is a constituent country of the United Kingdom and its identity derives from a distinctive culture and landscape. Heavy industry and farming are prominent parts of the economy, but over the past decade the service sector has grown rapidly too. 

With the Climate Change Act 2008 the UK became the first national government to make a legal commitment to cut carbon emissions. Wales is operating alongside this framework with its own ambitious policies and targets.

The Welsh Government was founded in 1999 with sustainability among its core statutory principles. As a small and industrialized nation, Wales can play an important role in demonstrating leadership on climate change. It has integrated the issue into all policy areas through its Sustainable Development Scheme, and has published a clear and accessible Climate Change Strategy to set out its long term aims and targets. 

The annual State of the Environment report shows progress on 100 environmental metrics; the recent July 2011 report showed improvements in 47 of these and a decline in only five. 

The Sustainable Development Scheme aims to measure and reduce Wales’ ecological footprint and to promote fair and responsible consumption of resources. In doing this, it will help build a sustainable economy, foster innovation and technology, and enhance both human wellbeing and biodiversity.

Wales’ main contributor to its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the power sector (38%), with transportation, buildings and agriculture and forestry other main players. The power sector mix is predominantly gas (50%) while coal and nuclear make up another two fifths (20% each). This leaves 10% for renewable capacity. However, the Welsh Government has set ambitious targets to improve on this, with objectives for renewable energy to become a central player in its power generation portfolio. 

Wales is working towards a reduction in carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80% before 2050. To achieve this, carbon emissions will be reduced by at least 3% every year in areas of devolved responsibility. Also, all new Government buildings since 2009 are zero carbon, and the nation will obtain 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Alongside these policies, a wide-ranging program of engagement will encourage individuals, communities, and the public, private and third sectors to respond to the reality of climate change. 

Current Activities

Energy efficiency

The Government's Arbed and Nest programs promote energy efficiency in homes and tackle fuel poverty. Phase 1 of Arbed has already made great progress and Phase 2 is now backed by the ERDF. By improving homes, the Government reduces fuel bills, bolsters employment and training, and lowers carbon emissions.

Supported by the Welsh Government, The Carbon Trust in Wales supports businesses in improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions. The Energy Saving Trust also operates in Wales with support from the Government and provides advice to households and organizations on efficient transport, water and energy use. 

Renewable energy

Wales has the potential to annually produce up to 40 terrawatt hours of electricity from renewable sources by 2025 with 25% from marine, 50% from wind (offshore and onshore) and the rest from sustainable biomass power or smaller local (including micro) heat and electricity projects using wind, solar, hydro or indigenous biomass.

Clean transport

The Government invests in a number of Sustainable Travel centers to encourage public transport use and effective journey planning. The region supports UK and EU policies on emission standards and low carbon fuels. Eco-driving, walking and cycling are promoted heavily and the Government is committed to investing in bus and rail services, and improving traffic management.

Sustainable land use

The Wales Spatial Plan provides leadership in 'low carbon regions' development, coordinating action on reducing emissions from transport, waste, food, land use and the built environment. The Welsh Government's land management program, Glastir, supports farmers in developing sustainable land management approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions whilst maintaining production levels.

Waste management

The Government aims to achieve 70% recycling across all sectors by 2025, by focusing on reuse, recycling and prevention of waste. The amount of waste sent to landfill per person over a three month period has fallen from 71 kg in March 2010 to 65 kg in March 2011. Meanwhile the average proportion of municipal waste recycled, reused and composted has increased from 37% in 2010 to 43% in 2011.

International collaboration

As a member of nrg4SD, Wales shares knowledge with other regions and contributes to the UNFCCC and the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

Smart cities

Sustainable Travel Towns are also being planned for each region alongside the Wales Spatial Plan’s community developments, focusing on energy efficiency.

More info

Devolved powers and competencies relevant to climate and energy

Government of Wales Act 2006 and the Climate Change Act 2008. This legislation gives the Welsh Government a broad range of competences in relation to climate change (through its devolved competence to protect the environment). Policy on energy (above 5 megawatts) is not devolved to the Welsh Government.

Most important economic sectors

The following sectors all contribute significantly to the Welsh economy: energy and environment; advanced manufacturing and materials; ICT; creative industries; life sciences; financial and professional services; tourism; construction; and food and farming.

GHG breakdown by sector (%) (2009 - most inventory year):

Power 16.08 MtCO2e (37.75%)
Transport 6.16 MtCO2e (14.47%)
Buildings 4.43 MtCO2e (10.39 %)
Industry 1.40 MtCO2e (3.28%)
Agriculture/forestry 5.32 MtCO2e (12.49 %)
Waste 1.01 MtCO2e (2.38%)

Current power sector mix (2010):

Coal 20%
Gas 50%
Nuclear 20%
Wind See below










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