WALES must do more to tackle climate change in the next 10 years than it has achieved in the past 30 years, if the nation is to meet its emissions goals. 

That was the message from the deputy climate change minister at a press conference focused on Wales’ response to the climate crisis where it was also announced £150m would be made available to social housing more energy efficient. 

Lee Waters said the Welsh Government’s intention is that the entire public sector achieves net zero – that is net zero greenhouse gas emissions – by 2030. 

The government’s target for Wales as a whole is to reach net zero by 2050, in line with the UK target. 

Waters said Wales is a world-leader in recycling and moving to a circular economy "where waste is used as a resource" and transformed "into something that we need". 

The Welsh Government has also announced new schools, colleges, major refurbishment and extension projects in Wales will be required to meet net zero carbon targets from January 1, 2022. 

This means the buildings will have to produce zero or negative carbon emissions as part of their operational energy. 

The first generation of schools and colleges under the new rules will also be required to demonstrate a 20 per cent reduction on the amount of embodied carbon. 

Making houses more energy efficient will make them easier and cheaper to heat, and support a "just transition" to zero carbon, said the deputy minister who believes Wales has made "a good start" but has more to do. 

Bidders for Welsh Government grants generally will need to prove they are investing in Welsh supply chains, and use materials sourced in Wales when possible. 

He called this "the start of an ambitious journey to be net zero" and the full budget, to be announced next month, will include investment in community energy projects, a national forest, and business support to become decarbonised. 

Waters said the current COP26 conference, which first minister Mark Drakeford is attending, will bring in valuable knowledge and innovation, and help build a "stronger fairer and greener Wales for future generations".


Asked if families should start saving now to prepare for an expensive switch to a lower-carbon lifestyle the deputy minister called the science of climate change "undeniable" and "alarming". 

Doing nothing about it is not only an option, but it would be the most expensive option, he said. 

He claimed about 60 per cent of the changes we need to make to get to net zero come down to individual choices - installing efficient heating, buying an electric car, eating less meat. 

Some of these things are currently expensive but will become cheaper in future when there is more of a market for them. 

"People have been struggling for a long time to find the right tone to communicate with people the level of serious threat," said Waters. 

But the life-support systems of the planet will be "destroyed" in 80 years if no action is taken, and 70 per cent of humanity will not be able to live the same lives they do today, including food supply. 

"The science is clear: we can stop this, we can manage it. Some of the changes are baked in but the worst of it is preventable if we take action now." 

But "decision makers" who make "short-term trade-offs" when it comes to climate change need to realise the cost to society of not acting. 

When asked if Wales is doing enough to protect its green spaces he said tree planting needs to increase 15-fold, that's 86 million more trees, to improve air quality and prevent biodiversity loss. 

Wood can also be used as a more environmentally-friendly building material. 

The Welsh Government also plants two trees - on in Wales and one in Uganda - every time a child is born here. 

As a result 15 million trees have been planted in the African nation. 

The policy was described as an example of "practical" action but Waters added that "we need to do far, far more and we need to do it quickly". 

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