Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, with Welsh Government and over half of all local authorities having declared a climate emergency to date.
The ‘team Wales’ approach will be headed by the Partnership Council for Wales (the Partnership Council); made up of representatives of local authorities, NHS, Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs), town and community councils, the voluntary sector, Police and Crime Commissioners and Welsh Government. The Partnership Council is the formal statutory vehicle for Welsh public services to work together on key issues for Wales, including climate change. The approach will allow these public bodies to work together to maximise resources, develop consistent communications and minimise duplication on the path to net zero. Building on the good work already underway across Wales, including energy efficiency and renewable energy projects supported by the Welsh Government Energy Service and Wales Funding Programme.
Following a statement by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the Senedd yesterday, it was announced the Partnership Council will work together to establish a Decarbonisation Strategy Panel providing passion leadership and vision as well as strategic overview, collaborative leadership and communication channels. The Council’s joint statement sets out a joint programme of support, and an ambitious leadership direction to help achieve a net zero carbon public sector in Wales by 2030. Priorities will include; reducing emissions associated with buildings, transport, and procured goods and services, while using our land to remove at least as much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as we emit. Partners will have a key role in supporting changes across the wider economy, through the design of their services, the economic activity they promote and their role in planning and place making.
Working towards decarbonisation will help provide long term sustainable solutions, particularly during the Covid recovery. Welsh Government are supporting this agenda by offering technical, commercial and financial support to Public Bodies to implement action, and have developed a Net Zero Carbon Reporting Guide to support consistent, transparent reporting. This work will be supplemented by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) who will provide, expertise and training, and ensuring best practice is shared across Wales.
Public services across Wales have pledged to ensuring decarbonisation action is embedded through:
- Understanding their carbon footprint, in line with guidance for public sector greenhouse emissions reporting
- Agreeing to a set of net zero commitments/pledges for COP26
- Closely monitoring and reporting their current and future carbon emissions.
- Ensuring all Local Authorities have robust, evidence based net zero action plans in place, as living documents, by March 2021
- Work with a new Decarbonisation Strategy Panel
The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said:
Strong leadership and political engagement across national and local government is key to achieving our target of net zero carbon zero by 2030. The current Covid-19 crisis has changed our world rapidly and in ways we could have never imagined and decarbonisation and the environment must be central to covid-19 recovery plans.
During the crisis CO2 emissions fell by 17% and we know that new behaviours such as home working, increased use of technology and digital delivery of services, amongst others, have helped to achieve this.
Whilst the immediate focus is about managing and recovering from the current crisis, we have an opportunity to build on these changes and create a sustainable low-emissions society.
Councillor Andrew Morgan (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Leader and Spokesperson for Transport, Environment and Sustainability said:
Collaboration at all levels of government and across the public sector is crucial to realise the Welsh public sector’s ambitious 2030 net-zero carbon target. That’s why the ‘Team Wales’ approach and framework for action on decarbonisation are important steps and will provide the evidence base and some of the tools needed to reach net zero.
We recognise the importance of taking action on decarbonisation, and local authorities have been at the forefront of investment and innovation in energy, transport, buildings, and procurement for many years. As we cautiously look towards a post-Covid future, there are opportunities for realising some of the co-benefits of investing in a green recovery, such as improved health and wellbeing, better digital connectivity, improved housing and schools, and reduced fuel poverty.
Significant investment in infrastructure will be needed over the coming years to address climate change. Local authorities are best-placed to deliver in many of these areas, and have a strong track-record of doing so. The WLGA looks forward to working increasingly closely with Welsh Government and all stakeholders in tackling climate change, and to support authorities as they continue to rise to the challenge of achieving net-zero.