Y Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, Amgylchedd a Materion Gwledig - Y Bumed Senedd
Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee - Fifth Senedd25/02/2021
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Janet Finch-Saunders MS|
|Jenny Rathbone MS|
|Llyr Gruffydd MS|
|Mike Hedges MS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Neil Hamilton MS|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Alexander Phillips||Swyddog Polisi ac Eirioli, WWF Cymru|
|Policy and Advocacy Officer, WWF Cymru|
|Haf Elgar||Cyfarwyddwr, Cyfeillion y Ddaear Cymru|
|Director, Friends of the Earth Cymru|
|Lord Deben||Chair, Climate Change Committee|
|Cadeirydd, Y Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Andrea Storer||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Elizabeth Wilkinson||Ail Glerc|
|Marc Wyn Jones||Clerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 14:15.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 14:15.
Can I welcome Members to a meeting of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee? We've had apologies from Joyce Watson. Can I remind participants you don't need to operate your microphones? They should be done automatically for you. If I drop out for any reason, Jenny Rathbone will take over. Are there any declarations of interest? There are none.
This is part of an ongoing discussion we've had regarding our legacy report on climate change and decarbonisation, and we're very lucky again to have Lord Deben with us to answer questions, who is chair of the Climate Change Committee. So, can I welcome you, Lord Deben, to the meeting, and if you're happy, can we start with some questions?
Thank you. Yes.
I'll go first. We've seen substantial reductions in Wales in emissions, and you're saying we're ahead of where we were aiming to be by 2020, but how much of that has been driven by the closure of Aberthaw and how much of that has been driven by other events that are one-off events that cannot be repeated?
Well, I think this is a very important question. It doesn't just apply to Wales; it applies to the whole of the United Kingdom. One of the things that has hidden the degree of progress that we have had is the remarkable degree of progress that we have had on energy generation, which has been very much more than many thought possible, but we have not done as well elsewhere, all over the United Kingdom, and Wales is no exception to that.
You have done some remarkable things in certain areas, which I'm constantly quoting in order to try to get other people to copy you, particularly in waste, but I do think you're right that we haven't kept up in the other areas, and that makes it very clear that what we have to do now is more difficult than the changes in generation have turned out to be. But there is a sort of codicil to that, which is, when we started out on the generation changes, we thought they were going to be significantly more difficult than it has turned out, and it shows that if you concentrate on it and you provide the money for it and you actually use the market properly, as in fact all those things came together in a cross-party way, it's surprising how much you can achieve, and our offshore wind achievement has been remarkable.
Thank you. Neil Hamilton. Neil Hamilton, and I'll call you in, Llyr. Neil.
Lord Deben, the Welsh Government aspires to be and likes to think of itself as a world leader in carbon reduction and renewable energy promotion. I wonder if you can give us your view, not a global comparison but within the United Kingdom, of Wales's emission reduction progress relative to the other nations of the UK.
Well, first of all, I think it's fair to say that Wales has a more difficult job than other parts of the United Kingdom, certainly more difficult than Scotland or England, primarily because of its particular concentration in heavy industry in the south and, of course, its essential rurality elsewhere where real difficulties take place. But I do think that it has led, particularly, as I said earlier, in its approach to waste, and I do think that its future generations attitude, not just the legislation, but its attitude, is incredibly important in dramatising and galvanising people to do the right thing. So, I do think there's a perfectly good argument to say that it is in a leadership role. It's got some big and difficult things to do, but one of the things that it can do is to help smaller national or sub-national groups to recognise what role they have to play. I hope very much, at the coming COP26 conference, that will play that part, because the particular role that it plays in the United Kingdom is one that is not unparalleled in states in the United States and different parts of other countries, like Spain, for example. I think that Wales's way of looking at things is very communicable and I'd like to see it doing that.
I just wanted to pick up on the comments earlier about the energy sector particularly, following on from your answer there. Great strides have been made, of course, but as the Chair mentioned, I think over half of that is as a direct result of Aberthaw power station closing. Also, your own report reminds us that the rate of insulation and new renewable energy capacity in Wales has fallen every year since 2015. Are you not slightly concerned that, instead of accelerating the pace of change, it's actually slowing down in that context?
I am concerned about that, but I'm not only concerned about it in Wales, I'm concerned about it over the whole of the United Kingdom. Although I would liked to have seen it reverse that in Wales, I don't think Wales should hit itself too hard, because everyone else has been as bad. But that doesn't mean to say that you haven't got to change, if you see what I mean. I just don't want too much self-flagellation. I want a bit of recognisation that we've now got to do something about it.
If I may say so, I think one of the best examples of what can be done I saw in Wales, when I saw the way in which a particularly difficult council estate had been entirely changed. I shall never forget the moment of seeing one of the senior teachers in the local primary school. I said to him, 'What has this meant for the community?' and he just said to me, 'Well, it's meant, Lord Deben, that children don't come to school wet.' It seemed to me that this was absolutely remarkable. This was a game-changing situation and one that had also thrown up a number of difficulties—I mean, individual houses that had been sold and where the people didn't want to have the changes made because they didn't approve of them. But they then stood out amongst the others as being thoroughly much more uncomfortable.
But it did seem to me that that was an example, and what I'm sad about is that that was an example that was paid for with European Union money that will no longer be there. Of course, leaving the European Union does make it much more difficult for us than it would've been had we still remained in the European Union. I have to say that, and I'm not prepared to give up the fact that I do think that that does make it more difficult. So, the Welsh Government is going to have to step up in a way that it wouldn't otherwise, and the United Kingdom Government has got to recognise that it's also got to make up for the failures that that results in.
Thank you. Janet. [Interruption.] Not Janet; Jenny.
Thank you very much. I just want to look at, given the challenges that you've just outlined, what changes have allowed you to think that it's going to be possible to increase the target for Wales to net zero from 95 per cent.
We've looked again at the figures—both the costs and, indeed, what we think you can do—and our view is that this has made it possible. We've applied the same rules throughout the United Kingdom and it's landed the Scots with doing it five years earlier, as you know. Originally, we thought the figures worked out that it would be more difficult for you to do it as early as 2050, but we do now think that you can, and it's really based upon a whole series of different issues. I think the biggest problem for you is that afforestation and land use is absolutely crucial to the future, and this is an extremely difficult thing in all of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it's a difficult thing almost everywhere in the world. I've spent the last week in a virtual visit to New Zealand, and I'm very well aware of just how difficult the land use and farming side is there. So, I don't underestimate the difficulties that you have, but our figuring now suggests that you can do this, and it's obviously much better for us all to concentrate on delivering on that date, not least because the rest of the world is beginning to gather around that date, and we also want to put some pressure on China to bring its date back from 2060 to 2050. I don't want any reasons why that should not be so. But I'm not underestimating the big issue that you have, which is about land use. There are two big issues, really—land use and the question of heating in homes. I think those are the two that are going to be the most difficult ones.
Just going on to heating in homes, one of the things that concerned me was that we've only got 8,000 heat pumps in Wales. Given that a large number of our homes are off grid, they can't get cheaper gas, which we want them to move off anyway. I'm surprised that people are being forced to use either electricity or liquid gas, and I just wondered how crucial it is to drive up the use of heat pumps, particularly in rural areas where land is in decent supply.
It is absolutely crucial, and that's why you may have seen that there's been some altercation between me and the Climate Change Committee on the one hand, and the Government, about the wider Government policy in England about the green homes grant, because it is absolutely essential. If there are reasons why this one isn't working, we can't just get rid of it, we just have to have something else that's going to work. I'm very happy for Governments to get things wrong, because I always think a most peculiar thing in democracy is that Governments are supposed to get things 100 per cent right, when we've always known, in a private company, if you get 60 per cent of things right you're not doing too badly, and if you get 70 per cent you're doing very well. If you get 80 per cent, you're telling lies. You don't get things right. This is not what really happens and, therefore, I want to say to Government, 'Well, if you haven't got this right, and we understand that you haven't, well then let's see if we can move forward with something that is going to work', and that, I think, is about delivery.
It is particularly true that the present system makes it more difficult than it ought to. I have to say, I'm an unashamed believer that we really can't be taxing electricity for green reasons—because that's what we do—and not taxing the gas, and there would be no reason at all why one shouldn't move the thing over, so to speak. Rural areas, in which I have a particular interest, living in the middle—I'm speaking to you from a very rural area of England—don't have the opportunity of gas, and yet they're paying a significantly larger proportion of the costs of the changes because they're using a lot more electricity. We want people to move to electricity, and we want them to move to electricity because we hope, very soon, that most of our electricity will be renewable. Therefore, we've got to help them, and that means, partly, Government has got to help them and, partly, we've not got to discourage them by taxing the one thing they ought to do and not taxing the other one. Now, for 80 per cent of the population, if you move the taxation from the electricity to the gas, it wouldn't make all that much difference because they are on a dual tariff. The people who it would make a huge difference to are the ones you've referred to, Ms Rathbone, when you talk about the rural community that doesn't have that opportunity. I think that is a change that could certainly be made, and be made very quickly.
Sticking with electricity generated by renewables seems to be crucial. If we're going to make the switch from gas to electricity, it's got to be through renewables, surely. Wales seems to have a strikingly poor record on generating more renewables in the last few years. It was very good on earlier years, but we seem to have stalled somewhat, and I wondered if you could explain why that is, because it's presumably to do with what the private sector's up to.
Well, it's a mixture, isn't it? First of all, the refusal of previous Governments to include onshore wind in their arrangements was, in my view, particularly curious. It seemed to me to be absolutely unnecessary. If communities want to have onshore wind, they should have it. We've got it locally here. People didn't like it when it started, but they now see it as quite an iconic picture and they react very differently. The cheapest way of producing energy that we've got is onshore wind. The second cheapest way is offshore wind, and it seems to me that we have to look at that very carefully. If we're going to get the 40 GW of extra wind the Prime Minister has promised us, then some of that's got to come from Wales. So, we've got to look and see whether there are specific reasons why it hasn't happened to the degree we would hope in Wales. But I do think that the onshore wind changes ought to make a major difference, because people who want it can now have it and get the same support that they would have for other renewables.
What about building regulations? We haven't, unfortunately, been able to change them in this Parliament to reinstate the zero carbon emissions that Gordon Brown proposed, but how much of that will drive the demand for renewables? Because if buildings can only be built that are zero carbon, clearly they're going to have to provide them with renewables.
You're quite right to remind us of the very, very seriously wrong decision of the Government to go back on carbon-neutral homes. There is always an argument that it's easier to propose such homes if you propose them far enough ahead for you not actually yourself to have to carry them through. I'm always suspicious of long-term targets of that kind. But the fact is that the Conservative Government at the time quite wrongly stopped that, and that means that a million homes have been built since then that will have to be retrofitted. I think it's a really serious thing, because what it's meant is that the house builders have dumped on the owners of those houses the cost of paying high energy bills to start with, and then the cost of retrofitting, minus whatever the Government's prepared to help them with, and I find that wholly unacceptable. The house builders could perfectly well have made those changes and the cost would have come out of the land price that they would have paid. So, there's no reason why they shouldn't have done it, except the usual reason, which is that they prefer just to go on doing what they've always done. As far as that is concerned, we need to change those rules. The future homes standard, which was going to be brought forward to 2024, seems now to have gone back to the original date of 2025, but it really needs to be in operation. I've always thought that Wales could have done something on its own about insisting that people who build in Wales do so to a different standard. I think you've got the powers to do so, and I always wanted you to do it, because it was a wonderful way of pressing the rest of Britain to do it. I thought that if you did it, which you could have done, we would have been better off.
Well, hopefully, it'll be an early focus of the next Parliament. The other thing that concerns me in your report, in order to be able to achieve this 63 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, is that surface transport emissions—although they went down a bit in 2016-17, by 2018, they're actually generating more carbon emissions, and that's simply because more people are using more cars. So, I just wondered how significant that is. Or do you think that's a sideshow compared with our land use?
Well, it's not a sideshow, but we do at least have a programme in operation that will lead to considerable reductions in that, in the sense that we're not going to sell other than electric or equivalent vehicles after 2030. That will change the market considerably on the way up to that, because most people are saying to themselves, 'Well, do I really want to buy a car that I'm going to find it difficult to sell later on because the whole of the world has changed in this manner?' So, I would expect that to move much faster than people have thought. We are only at some 6 per cent now, but you can look at the effect changing systems can have in countries.
For example, Norway, which is going to do the same as we are, not in 2030, but in 2025, is already above halfway towards that, and that is, of course, also because they have changed the taxation system. Now, that's not something, Chair, that can be done in Wales itself, but I do think we have to think about, 'Would it not be better to tax more heavily the SUV and tax less heavily the electric car?' I think there are other things that we can do, and I would suggest that we do seek to do those, but in the meantime, the one area of surface transport that is incredibly difficult is quite how we deal with heavy goods vehicles, and you have—obviously, it's particularly true of your motorway area—quite a number of those. We don't have a very effective answer to that, and we're going to have to find something. It may well be hydrogen, but that is going to be a particularly difficult battle.
Okay. Well, hydrogen is something we're pursuing, but in the meantime, I wonder if I can just—lastly from me on this section—focus on the £25 billion you've estimated is going to be needed to achieve our net-zero emission targets. And I wondered if you could just share with us how you anticipate those costs being met in terms of the proportion that has to come from Government, either Welsh or UK, or from the private sector and other people.
Well, the first thing is that the overall costs of doing this is much lower than we had feared. Over the United Kingdom as a whole, as you know, we'd said it would be something up to 2 per cent of the gross national product every year, and we now think that it will be below 1 per cent. The problem, as you well know, is the incidence of that. In other words, it's not 1 per cent across the whole society; some things are going to be much more expensive, and some people are going to be much more affected. So, I just want to start by saying that it is my view that the 'just' bit of 'just transition' is absolutely vital—that you can't do it unless we accept that we really do have to do it in a way that protects those who can't and insists upon those who can. That's going to be a really serious part of what we have to do. So, the first thing is that sum of money will be affected considerably by the results of the Treasury programme of reporting on how they are going to insist upon a just transition, that Treasury has taken that on board. We asked them to do it and they have done it. They've done the first version of it and the full thing will be out, I think, towards to end of the year. So, we will have some picture from the central Government as to how it is going to use its sums of money in order to work for a just transition.
Do you think you're going to get a hint of that in the 3 March budget statement?
All the smell is that there won't be all that number of hints at that stage, but I don't know. I am no closer to that than you are, and we will have to see on 3 March. It's not too long to wait for that. At least we will know very soon.
All right. Thanks very much.
I just want to say, the one other thing is I do think that one of the things of being a smaller country is that you will be able to be—particularly with your very close relationship with your local authorities. With your local authorities, I think you could give some very good examples to the rest of the country as to how you deal with some of these difficult problems, because nowhere else is there that relationship to the same degree, which is why you've been so successful on waste. And I think you can use that much more effectively on other things too.
Thank you. Llyr Gruffydd.
Thank you. I'd like to move on to the coronavirus pandemic really, and the effect that's had on where we are. I'm just wondering whether you could tell us how the targets might be affected by the circumstances.
Well, I think that it's both more and less. The surface transport issue—I don't think it'll have a permanent relationship to that, partly because many people will be using their cars in a way which they wouldn't otherwise have done because they don't want to travel on public transport, and that will continue for some time, partly because there is a growth in the appetite for using the motor car that hasn't been stemmed in any permanent way by the pandemic.
But I think there are three things that will make a huge difference. First of all, I think people will not go into the office every day. The effect of doing what we're doing now will probably mean that even if I were able to travel to Wales, you would say, 'Well, we may as well do it this way', and that would save a significant number of emissions. Indeed, I think this is a better way, in many ways, of doing the sort of things that we do. We can do lots of things in this manner.
It doesn't make up for everything, but I think that businesses, for example—financial directors will be saying, 'Look, you really don't need to go to America once every month. Once every quarter will be quite enough, and you really don't need—'. I'm glad I have no shares in aviation—I wouldn't have had them anyway—but I have no shares in aviation, because I don't think they'll be very good value, because I actually do think that people will fly less. They want to fly for holidays, they want to get the sun and the rest of it, but it's always been true that that has depended very much on the business traveller, and I think there are going to be some real difficulties about making that as cheap as it has been, just from the market point of view, not from any intervention by us. So, I think there'll be less flying by most people, very much more than we had thought.
There'll be less travelling into the office, less commuting, in other words, that will have some effect in Wales, not as much as in the London area, but still some effect in Wales, and I think what we're doing now will also make a difference in quite a lot of the way in which people work. It seems to me that, in the medical world, for example, there'll be quite a lot of being able to discuss with people their problems by doing it this way.
There'll be all kinds of things that we will be able to do, because all those boring grandparents who used to say, 'I have to get my grandson to work the television,' are now working this themselves in order to talk to their grandchildren. So, I think we've actually got over that. What pandemics do, really, is to speed up what was happening already. They don't change the world, but they do speed up—and they may speed it up exponentially. I think they've done that with our communications thing, and that will be a hugely different thing, and that will reduce emissions very significantly.
It will, indeed, and my question, therefore, is to what extent that change and further change, if Governments across the UK are true to their political narrative of a green recovery and building back better, which will accelerate even further carbon reduction—to what extent will you therefore need to revisit some of the targets and some of the advice that you've provided those Governments?
Well, so far, in the 10 years of the Climate Change Committee, we have been right to be conservative and we have been pleased to be cheered by doing better than we have suggested might be done. I am not in favour of making things easier for people. I want to do what is as near as possible what we think will happen, and this may give us a little bit of elbow room, but there are some pretty difficult things that we've asked in any case, and we may well need that elbow room. I wouldn't want to revisit at the moment, not when I look at what you have to do about tree planting, for example, not when I look at what we are asking you to do about land use, not when I look about what we've actually got to do about heavy goods vehicles. So, I just think if there is any elbow room, and I think there is, I'm not sure that there won't be other things that—whatever you do with elbow room—take it up.
So, if, let's say, a new Government post the May election in Wales came to you with a new carbon delivery plan that was much more ambitious and much more far-reaching, then surely you would then reassess and issue new targets on the back of that.
I'm always very happy to encourage anybody who wants to do better. I believe that what we have proposed is the best, most cost-effective, most sensible way forward, and I believe that it can be achieved, and I have no worries about saying it can be achieved. I very much want to be in that position, because I do think that to disappoint people on this route is the way in which you put things off. This is very urgent. We have to get on with it. And whatever any new Government might come with, I would be very happy to look at it and do my best to help it in every way, but we've got a lot to do under any scheme at the moment in the next 10 years, because that's all we've got. We really have 10 years to change the situation. I just come back to a quote that I give to you, which is the great comment of the Pope in Laudato si', when he said very simply, that climate change is the symptom of what we have done to the world, and the disease is something quite different. The disease is what we are now trying to approach to deal with—land use, the way in which we have wasted the soil, the way in which we have actually polluted the air and the atmosphere, and the soil. All those things we've got to put right. It's a very big job. If we can do it quicker than we have suggested, I would be the first to cheer, but I don't want to pretend that what we’ve offered is anything but very difficult.
I'm not on mute, am I? Intertwined with the Welsh Government's recovery plans is the work of the green delivery partnership. They've previously told this committee that the success of their work couldn't be measured using the usual metrics. Given the Climate Change Committee's successful scrutiny on this area of policy, what advice would you have for the Welsh Government when reviewing the successes or failures of their projects, and will a piece of reflective work actually be enough?
Well, I'm in a very difficult position here, because I'm very well aware that the success of the Climate Change Committee has been based really on the work of my predecessor, who laid down the fundamental fact that it was to be based on science, and that means measurement, that means metrics, that means very seriously being able to answer criticism by being able to point specifically to the science. Therefore, I have to start by saying that I really do think proper metrics and proper measurement is really important. And we've had too much of the anecdotal arrangements in the past. So, I don't want to give any impression that I don't hold that to be very important. But, there are very crucial jobs to be done in terms of facilitation so that people can move on. And you might measure what they do objectively as not very much, but it's what they then do because those things have been put into place. So, I think there's a lot to be said for looking at other ways of measurement as well, as long as you don't lose the fundamental issue that you really do have to see that you get the necessary bang for your buck, because if you don't get that, we're not going to get anywhere. Both are necessary. As so often, it's not either/or, it is both/and.
Thank you. Back to you, Jenny.
I wanted to come back to land use, which I think you've highlighted already. Now, agriculture—the actual emissions have increased since 2016, and over half of that comes from livestock. How much of this is down to farting cows, and therefore is it about producing fewer cows, or is it about ensuring that what they're eating is grass rather than soya produced in the Amazon?
Yes, well, first of all, if I may say so, it isn't the farting, it is the burping.
Pardon. My apologies.
That is the major problem. Well, again, it is a mixture. First of all, I do think that it would be very good if Britain as a whole only produced pasture-fed animals. I think that people should eat—and by 'people' I include myself, I'm not saying other people; I am a convinced carnivore, but I have to say that I think we should eat less meat and better meat. It just is a very simple concept. We've said, to start with, a 20 per cent, probably having to rise to 30 per cent reduction in the meat that we eat, but we've said that should be better meat. I don't think that means that the farmer should be worried about it at all, because I think farmers producing good food in Wales, as in the rest of the United Kingdom but particularly in Wales, will produce a product that people will have less of but choose to pay the price that that necessitates.
I do think that we are biting off two different things at the same time, which is going to make some difficulty, because the Government as a whole, when it comes to the way in which it wants to change the system of support in agriculture, has got a lot of gaps in what it really understands as to what it wants to do. I really am looking very carefully at what is proposed, but I don't see that we're yet anywhere where we understand how they intend to measure, how they intend to spend, what they intend to encourage, and, of course, although Wales has its own plans in this area, what happens at Whitehall is important, and I do think it's a very, very difficult change that has to take place by our leaving of the European Union, but by our decision that in doing that we're not going to continue with our support for production. I don't disagree with that; I just wish that it were more clear as to how that is going to be done, because, as a small farmer myself, I don't know and I don't know how that will affect the animals that I produce, which are entirely organic and produced on pasture. I do feel very strongly that this is a very difficult point for agriculture anyway, and then we're taking into that all the things we have to do about climate change.
So, I mean, it's not an easy thing. They are the same sorts of things and we probably have got the same sorts of answers, but nobody has got sufficient answers at the moment to give farmers enough confidence. Therefore, they are extremely worried, and they are frightened, and I can understand why, and, therefore, the troublemakers—. This is the moment in which those few people who are always naysayers will be stirring people up and worrying them even more. So, the quicker we can get firm and clear policies, even if they're, in a sense, not quite the right policies—. The thing that people need to know is where they're going, what's going to happen to them, and I don't think they've got any idea at the moment. So, that's the area that, for me, is most important—getting that right.
But I do believe in pasture-fed animals, high qualities, and it being automatic that in buying British—and in this case buying Welsh—you know that the carbon footprint is less than almost anywhere else in the world, and so at least that we have that connection. It happens to be true that we are already at a lower carbon footprint than most things and, certainly, anybody who suggests that we should allow the import of meat from other countries who do not meet our standards have really got this entirely wrong.
So, in terms of having clear policies, you will be aware that the Welsh Government's recently declared that the whole of Wales should be a nitrate vulnerable zone, and that's caused a certain amount of anxiety amongst farmers. How significant is it to have that sort of clarity about how we manage manure and waste management in order to meet the agricultural aspect of our targets?
I think clarity is everything, and it may be that there is a better, more nuanced plan, but you've decided that it is better to be very clear, and I'm not going to disagree with that; I think that is absolutely right, and then what we have to do now is to find ways for those farmers who find it most difficult—and there are some people who find it more difficult than others—to find ways in which they can be helped to get that right. And information and training is hugely important in agriculture. The age of farmers is a really serious matter. Young people coming into the industry is a difficulty, and many farmers have in fact not had any of the training up to now. And these changes are things that are quite difficult to do, and I'm not sure that any part of the United Kingdom so far has got to a stage in which they can say that they really are providing the sort of help that farmers really need just in the terms of what they should do.
Thank you. Just looking at the other aspect of land use, which is the use of the land as a carbon sink and, in particular, the Welsh Government's target to plant a million trees as part of the concept of a national forest, is that sufficiently ambitious, or are there other things we have to do to increase the absorption of carbon emissions?
It isn't sufficiently ambitious, but it's a jolly good start, and I congratulate the Welsh Government on wanting to do that. So, I don't want to write that down, but we've got to do an awful lot more. And we've also got to try to help farmers to understand that the reason that we have to do all this—the reason we don't have zero but we have net zero—is partly because of agriculture, because there are certain industries that really cannot get down to zero, and agriculture is one of them. So, in a sense, they have to play their part particularly, because it's their part in order to make it possible for them to continue. That's the fact. That's why we have to do it.
So, it's not just tree planting, and I think this is a very good beginning, but there is an awful lot more to do in tree planting just on its own, but it's also making the soil more able to sequestrate. And, actually, something that nobody—well, very few people—mentions is it's also the question of making the sea able to sequestrate, and there is a great deal that can be done in inland waters, and we're going to have to get much better at doing that. That's partly not polluting the sea and it's partly using kelp and other things in order to sequestrate carbon.
But the soil is crucially important. The soil is what gives us the ability to live at all, and we have reduced the fertility of the soil very significantly in recent years by the mechanisms that we've used and the sort of farming that we've gone in for. So, changes there are going to be really important—precision farming, farming that respects the land and the soil, farming that actually thinks about the future, which is true of many Welsh farmers, but not of all. That's what we've got to do.
Thank you for that clarity.
Thank you. Llyr, please come in.
Thank you. I just wanted to pick up on your comments about the NVZ stuff. I don't want to prolong this, obviously, because we will have debates, but the Government is using your report as a justification for the all-Wales approach. Your response wasn't emphatically that an all-Wales approach is the best approach; you couched it in terms of, 'Well, it's probably easier for everybody to understand'. Now, of course, you'll be aware that the underpinning research that you used for your report to the Vivid Economics and ADAS work actually suggests that a targeted approach is best for avoiding unnecessary burdens on those farmers who aren't actually transgressing. I just wanted you to square that up a little bit for me, please.
Well, I'm very conscious—let me put this clearly—that the Climate Change Committee's job is to define what the problem is, show what seems to be the best way to solve it, and give people a timetable to reach it. That's what we have to do. It is not our job in the end to decide between different policies or particular ways of doing it; our job then is to say, 'You Governments have made those decisions; we will now measure whether they actually deliver, and if they don't deliver, we'll tell you what you have to do to try to do it', again, giving choices. So, I don't really want to be in a position of saying that this mechanism is automatically better than that mechanism; my job is the outcomes. And it seems to me that what the Welsh Government has decided is that if you want the outcome, it is better to be clear for everybody than to have a more targeted approach. That's what it appears to have decided. I don't think I'm going to second guess them on it. You know what we suggested as the mechanism but, in the end, you're the Government and you're elected to make those decisions. I'm going to come along at your behest and measure whether it works. And I think that's what my job is and, if it hasn't worked, Mr Gruffydd, I'll tell you very clearly, but, in the meantime, I do think you've got to make that choice.
Sure. So, if we end up losing small and medium-sized family dairy units and have to offshore more of our food production as a result, then, clearly, you will tell the Welsh Government.
I would certainly tell you—
Sorry, Lord Deben. We had this debate yesterday, in which Llyr Gruffydd spoke. We're having the same debate next week, in which Llyr Gruffydd will speak. I think we certainly need to move on, and we'll probably have it the week after as well.
Mr Hedges, let me just say one thing, and that is this: I am absolutely convinced that our policies are not helped by offshoring anybody anywhere, and therefore that's the question you have to ask yourself. I can't give you the answer, but I can measure it, and offshoring is not an answer that is acceptable. But it may be, and I think there is, a disagreement between different parts of the Welsh Assembly as to whether this would offshore it or not. I seem to suspect that I might enter into that and I have no intention of doing that.
Yes. You can listen to it from yesterday and you can listen to it next week and probably the week after as well. Neil Hamilton.
[Inaudible.]—complimentary earlier on today about the Welsh Government's record on carbon reduction in the waste sector, and I was wondering if you could give us your view of what impact the delay to the UK's environment Bill might have on Wales's emission reduction progress in the waste sector, particularly in light of proposals around extended producer responsibility and the deposit-return schemes.
First of all, I think that delaying the environment Bill is not doing anybody any good, because again we come back to the problem that I've adumbrated, which is really that so many people are confused and unsure as to what's going to happen. Now, we live in a confusing and unsure world, but that makes it more important that the Government does make clear what's going to happen in the areas it can make clear, because the other areas we're going to have to put up with, and that's particularly true when we're thinking about the pandemic. We didn't expect that. It's come out of the blue, but our job, as far as the Government is concerned, it seems to me, is to be as clear as we possibly can be, so putting off the Bill is a great pity. I'm not arguing whether it had to be done or not; I'm just saying it's a great pity.
So, then comes what we do then. It seems to me that the extended producer responsibility—. And I'm always very careful about speaking about this, because I always declare an interest because I chair one of the groups, the Valpak group, which deals with compliance, so the committee must realise that. It has two advantages: one is that I know about it and the second thing is that I invented it in the first place, because I was the Minister who actually created the concept of producer responsibility and the way we do it, but I declare that interest. I'm very keen on extended producer responsibility and I do want that to happen. I do want us to apply very clear and sharp judgments about how you make all these changes as cost-effective as possible, because the cost increases, which we know we're going to have to have if business is directly going to pay for the recycling of its products and I think it should do that, but it is a very large increase—something between 19 times and in some cases 30 times what they're paying now—you've got to make sure that they are as small as they have to be in order to do the job and not a penny more, because I think it's going to be very hard to change this and we have to recognise that.
The second thing is that I think, even more, we have to look at DRS on that basis. I do think it would be worth while considering the proposals of the targeted DRS, because the issue with DRS is that it is supposed to deal with on-the-go product. That's where we lose the bottles. And there's a real issue about local authorities, if they don't get the bottles put through their system and therefore they don't get the advantage that they can get from bottles and getting the price of that, and we have to think about that. I don't think enough thought has been put to that. I think we've knee-jerked into where we are, and it might be a good idea, at least, to look and see whether we should go in for the concept that we can now do, because the technology is there—it wasn't there but it is now there—where you could actually mark the bottles that are sold in singletons in a way that they got a return, that you could get the deposit return. You pay the deposit and you get the deposit return on those. But the things that you take home in normal circumstances, and that are actually recycled to the tune of 74 per cent, it seems to me that the cheapest way of doing that is what we do now. So, what you want is something that doesn't cost too much in addition to that to get the ones that we're losing, and the ones we're losing are the ones that people buy and then go for a walk and then decide that they can't find a bin, or the bin hasn't been emptied. And one of the things I'd be doing is putting some more money into local authorities to enable them to empty a bin, because there's nothing that undermines recycling more than a full bin that hasn't been emptied and piles of stuff shoved underneath it.
So, how important do you think will be the impact of the delay to the environment Bill? I suppose the answer to that is that it depends how long it's delayed, but how serious do you think it's likely to be?
Well, I think it does depend on how long it's delayed. Part of the reason for it being delayed, I think, is that the Government has recognised that it's going to have to be much more radical than perhaps it thought it was going to be in the first place, because the demands that are being made on it are very considerable.
The second thing is that I think it is recognised now that successive Governments have denied both the Environment Agency and English Nature, Natural England, the money that they have needed to do their basic job. And somehow or other, that's got to be met. I do not see how we can proceed with what is going to be underlined, exemplified and extended in the environment Bill unless the Environment Agency and Natural England have significantly greater resources. As I understand it, the Environment Agency will find it very difficult to spend the extra money that has been given to it for capital spend, because it doesn't have the money to do the work to see what you do with a capital spend. I mean, in other words, its running costs are just not being met. So, I do think that, right across the United Kingdom, for the Environment Agency and its colleagues, we need to make sure that they've got the income that they need, and part of that will come in England—not for Wales, but in England—in that environment Bill, or should be coming in that environment Bill, and if it isn't then I think they'll have some difficulty with the environment Bill when it goes through the Houses of Parliament.
Jenny, very briefly.
Yes. Very briefly, Lord Deben, what is likely to be the impact of the internal markets Act on deterring us from going forward with a deposit-return scheme, if it just is an incentive for producers to move their production lines across the border?
Well, I think you tempt me into areas that I would prefer not to go into. I would only say this: you have put your finger on one of the things that really is most important in the whole of this. I do think we have gone through a period in which people have assumed that all the issues that we're dealing with are the concerns of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its counterparts and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and its counterparts. They're not. They're the concern of everybody; they're the concern of the department of trade, they're the concern of the department of the doing of every single part of it, and, clearly, as we've seen with this argument over the coal mine, they are the concern of the planning system. And unless we learn that it is the concern of everybody and everything to make these decisions, then we will get ourselves into the kind of mess that you point to.
Thank you very much. Llyr Gruffydd.
Thank you, Chair. Just looking ahead, then, to the next low carbon delivery plan, maybe you could tell us a little bit about what your involvement is in the development of that plan, and also whether you think that policies and proposals within the plan should all be fully costed and have specific emissions reductions targets associated with them.
Well, to answer the second half first, I am a great believer in costing and having targets. I don't share the common view about targets. It is perfectly true that, if targets are a substitute for action, we don't want targets, but targets as a mechanism in order to measure your action are very useful—you say, 'I want to reach this point' and, two years before it, you discover that you've only done 70 per cent of it and you have to start pulling your socks up. And if you don't—. So, I'm in favour of targets, but only as a driver of action, and, as you will see, I'm sure, over the coming year and more, the Climate Change Committee will be concentrating on dealing with the Government as a whole, and Governments, in order to make action and delivery the key notes, rather than yet again waving a flag and saying, 'What wonderful targets we've got.'
We work very closely with the Welsh authorities. We have a special arrangement with them, and we have a team that is responsible for working on Wales. We hope to continue to do that, and we will continue to supply the information that we can at the request of the Government. We sometimes supply them with information they haven't requested, because we think it's a good idea, which is one of the great joys of the independence that we have been given. But we certainly will be looking very carefully at the proposals. We do want it to be an iterative process, and we're very keen on the ideas. Again, there are lots of arguments against devolution, but the biggest argument for devolution, and why I hold it, is that it seems to me that it does provide the opportunity for the particularities of areas of the United Kingdom that have a real nationhood to be able to show that they can do things in their own way, and more effectively, and that enables me to say, 'Why can't you do what the Scots are doing on this? Why can't you do what the Welsh are doing on that?' and it's very important to do that. One of my arguments at the moment—because they have only recently got back into the fold, so to speak—with the north of Ireland is it's very important for the north of Ireland to see what things it can do, because at the moment there isn't something that you can point to, and I want some, because there's nothing like using these examples to move the English, who are rather inclined to think that they always get things right. In this particular circumstance it's obviously not true.
In your progress report you state, Lord Deben, that you
'will develop a new set of indicators to track progress in Wales on the pathway to Net Zero, and report on progress towards those indicators in future.'
When do you expect to publish these indicators and how are they being developed?
Well, they're being developed, obviously, co-operatively with the Welsh Government, and I don't think I can give you an immediate date now. If I can get a better date, I will certainly correspond and say when I think it is, but at the moment I don't think we have got a date for doing that. The whole purpose is to make it easier for us effectively to measure what is being done, and particularly to take account of the special things that the Welsh Government has raised with us—things that are particularly difficult or the things that are particularly different. So, I hope that we'll come out with something of which you'll approve. I will be happy to come back to you on what date we think we're going to deliver it.
Okay, thank you for that. You were saying a moment ago that having devolved administrations gives you some kind of measuring stick by which you can encourage other Governments within the United Kingdom to follow what you might say is the best practice. Can you say how effectively you think that these various Governments in the UK work together on climate change? Is there a significant difference now that the UK Government's—[Inaudible.]
There are significant differences, and I hope that they go on being significant differences, because that shows that the concept of operating on a basis of nationality is a good one. But I'm always concerned about co-operating in finding answers, because, just as I suggested to Jenny Rathbone that the problem is that we don't always recognise that every part of Government has a part to play, so I think that it's very often true that Government—unlike, if I may say so, Wales—is not good at relating to local government effectively, and regional government in England. I also think that the relationships between the four countries need to be all the time refreshed, so that we are all the time recognising that what we think in one place rarely has an influence on others. And, of course, sometimes, we put people in a difficult position. I constantly praise much of what Scotland is doing—it really does have a very remarkable series of achievements. But going ahead independently with a DRS system may in fact not have been the best way to get the best answer out on the subject of on-the-go bottles. It may be that we have a rather curious disjointed system. Perhaps we haven't spent the time thinking enough about what is the most sensible way forward on that. I think there is, on both sides, a need for the best possible co-operation, and also for each of the individual countries to say, 'Well, if we do this, is this going to be helpful to our neighbour, or can we do it in a way which makes the neighbour more able to handle it?'
Of course, leaving the European Union has made this a politically very lively issue indeed, in as much as, previously, environmental policy was controlled in an overarching way from Brussels. Now, these are devolved policy areas, overwhelmingly, and therefore differences of approach between the different devolved administrations could be unhelpful towards you in the achievement of the objective of your committee. So, can you give us a reflection on how things are going in that respect?
Well, I can't say that I think there have been any really dramatic problems. I think, in general, it's working really not badly at all. I just want to keep it that way, and that's not always easy, and I have given you an example of something that I think perhaps has not been as well thought through as it could have been. But there are many other examples of where people are working well together and I think that I want to encourage you to do that.
I'm not at all sure whether your statement about leaving the European Union is entirely so, because the overall influence that was placed on the environment was, of course, pretty broad, and I think the real issue that we're going to have to face is that Britain played an important part in encouraging the European Union to set high standards and to move fast on climate change issues. And one of the things I think we ought just to remind ourselves is that belonging to organisations like the European Union is not just a matter of what we can get out it—it's what we can contribute to it. If you reduce the opportunities that you have of influencing others, then you also reduce the influence that they have beyond our shores, and I have no doubt at all that we got to Kyoto very much because of the pressure of Britain. I'm not sure we would have got to Kyoto without that pressure, and I think it's a really important thing to think now about our new relationships, to make sure that we don't lose that influence, which we have had up to now, to raise standards and press things. That's why I'm so pleased the Government has taken the 68 per cent reduction for 2030. It's a very good a start in our influencing of the rest of the world.
Finally then, can you say what your view on the approach of the Governments of the UK towards the emissions trading scheme? And what implications does your latest advice have on the level of ambition for the scheme, particularly the emissions cap and trajectory?
Well, we have given some detailed advice on the emissions cap, and we have said that continuing as a part of the EU Emissions Trading System is a more sensible system, largely because it's practical. Nothing about monitoring or about Europe or anything, but just simply as a practical matter. The wider the area that is covered by a scheme, the more likely it is not to be volatile, the more likely it is that it's able to be worked, which is why the Chinese have managed to organise their schemes, and they have schemes in a way which would make them compatible with other people's schemes, because they do see that that in the end would be very satisfactory. So, I continue to think that having that kind of parallelism is important.
But there are things that would need to be changed if we have a scheme that is in any way very different from the European Union one. Government is approaching those problems. We are in discussion with them at the moment as to what is the best way of achieving that. And, of course, you've also got to think about the Government's clear indication—the press hasn't proceeded on it, with no hints—about the inter-relations between a trading scheme and a carbon tax. Clearly, the Government is thinking about that. I myself believe that both are valuable, both contribute, both can play a part. But also you have to have a third area, which is enabling and facilitating and encouraging capital flows in the right direction, and that is a necessary part of it. But I think that all three of those together should be operating, if we're really going to achieve our ends.
I think the point that you're making, Mr Hamilton, is very clear, and that is that these are areas where the United Kingdom Government has a particular role to play, but the choices that it makes are going to have a very big difference, a very big effect, on how the nations are able to operate themselves—so, pressure and making sure that this is a sensible answer, and that it isn't driven by any kind of amour propre. You don't need to have your own system; what you need to have is a system that works. Again, it's outcomes that matter.
Thank you very much.
Thank you. Can I come back to something you talked about earlier? Because I think it really is the key as we're moving forward. We were moving towards more homeworking, video-conferencing and less travel and more online shopping. We were moving towards that, and we have been, for the last 20 years, but hasn't what's happened in the last 12 months turbocharged that? How do you think that is going to affect our carbon emissions? Because some of it will be positive, like less travel for work, but some of it will be negative in that these Hermes drivers, and others, are driving around the roads delivering from house to house.
I quite agree. I do take a view about our taxation system that we have actually got to look at that, Mr Hedges. Because one does have to ask when the Government is going to take seriously the fact that we tax, through business rates, businesses that are on the high street, and it's quite clear that a lot of the companies delivering by mail are not being taxed anything like as much. I also personally—this is not as chairman of the Climate Change Committee—do think it is time that the Government takes a very clear point on international companies that don't pay any tax at all, or limited amounts of tax, because it only means that other people pay more tax, and I'm not prepared to think that. They depend upon the services that are provided in Britain to be able to deal with their issues—our roads, our police, and all the other things that make it possible—and I object strongly to a mechanism that enables them not to pay the proper tax that they should be.
There is an immediate issue, which I do think the Government has got to think a bit about, which is how it, without in any way stopping change—. Delivery to home can be a very valuable thing, although whether we all need next-day or same-day delivery for everything that we order, and whether we couldn't just think a bit and say, 'We'll have it the day after tomorrow', is a different question. I do think we ought to encourage green delivery, which means that people say, 'I will take this product any time over the next week and you work out what is the most environmentally friendly way of delivering it'. Some supermarkets are already trialling that, so that you get your delivery on the day on which they find it easiest to take it, and for some of the distant places in Wales, this is a really valuable kind of change. So, there are a lot of things that we can do, but you're quite right, there is a significant cost to the environment of the sort of delivery system that we look as if we are creating.
Can I thank you very much again for coming to talk to us? I've found it very interesting and fascinating, if only because a lot of what you've said are things I've written about previously. I've got an article on zero waste and one on taxation, which if you've got any spare time, you might want to look at. Because corporation tax has become an optional payment now for multinational companies, rather than a tax. But thank you very much, we've all really appreciated your attendance. I think what you have said is it's much easier for you to be sat in Suffolk than spend three or four hours on a train coming down to south Wales and the same amount back. Thank you.
Well, I'm sorry to miss coming to the principality, which I always love doing, and I've always got relations to go and visit. So, I'm sorry not to have been doing that, but it has been more pleasant perhaps than the long journey. Thank you all very much indeed.
Can I give a 10-second warning that we're going to be going into a break? We'll come back at 15:40. Everybody happy? Okay.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 15:26 a 15:41.
The meeting adjourned between 15:26 and 15:41.
Can I welcome Haf Elgar, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, and Alexander Phillips, policy and advocacy officer, World Wide Fund for Nature, better known as WWF? Can I welcome both of you? If you're okay, we'll move straight to questions. I will kick off the questions. What's your view of the net zero by 2050 emissions reduction target in Wales? Can we realistically achieve it or will it only happen if a number of catastrophic events occur in our economy? Haf.
Thank you. We are very pleased that a net-zero target is finally being set in Wales. I think that is progress. It has, in some ways, been a bit embarrassing that we've been behind in not having any sort of net-zero target. We think it's not only achievable by 2050, but, actually, we need to try and move sooner than that. We'd like to see us getting to net zero by 2045 at the latest, and other advisers do say that we need to move sooner in order to stop the catastrophic impacts of climate change. I think we really need to think about the impacts of not acting and not reducing our admissions as well. We can hardly forget that, given the flooding we've seen in communities throughout Wales throughout the past year—it has just been dreadful, and so many families and communities have been impacted in Wales—as well as, of course, the global impact and the responsibilities for that. So, I think we need to look at what we need to achieve. Of course, the UK committee on climate change recommendation and report clearly does state that it is realistic to get there by 2050.
I would like us to have more of a discussion about how we can move faster and sooner. I think there is an appetite in Wales. We're seeing communities respond and take action for their own responsibilities. We're seeing a public sector where there's a net zero by 2030 target and work well under way to develop action plans to deliver on that. I would have liked to have seen more time for scrutiny and this sort of discussion, to be honest, when we were setting the these new targets under regulation. It's not really the process that we foresaw when we were discussing the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 originally. I would like us to have the discussion about how we build on this to bring experts like the Tyndall centre in, to look at our global responsibilities and how we can move faster and take more responsibility with an all-Wales approach, particularly looking at our behaviour change as well as those things that are the direct responsibility of the Welsh Government.
Thank you. Alexander, do you want to add anything?
I definitely agree it is achievable. I think the CCC take a very reasoned approach to how that can be done. The challenge from my perspective is how we do that whilst also tackling the nature emergency as well, because some of those answers are slightly different. I think the key thing regarding whether or not we can do it is the action we take in this decade. I think the Welsh Government has the right approach in trying to front load things, because the gains we make now are paid back to us in the decades ahead. I think that will be the crucial question for the next Assembly, really.
Thank you. Neil Hamilton.
[Inaudible.]—for both of you on targets. Can you tell us what your view is of the revised emissions reduction targets for 2030 and for 2040?
Haf, go first.
Again, on this, yes, I think it's that direction of travel and the trajectory that is key really. Although we're talking a lot about 2050, it really is, as Alex said, what we do in the next 10 years that really counts. So, I think that's the key, the 2030 target is really key, but also the actions that we take now that we might not see the impacts of within this 10-year period but are essential to put us on the right track.
As I mentioned, the public sector has a net-zero target by 2030, so there's definitely ambition there. We've seen other countries—. Scotland, I think, has a 75 per cent target by 2030, so ours with 63 per cent is quite low by comparison. So, I would like to see us raise that ambition and look to actions in the next Senedd term and over the next 10 years to go further than that. So, if we are expecting that that is what will be set in the regulation, that we don't see that as an aim to achieve for but as the very bare minimum and that we really need to go faster than that.
Okay, thank you. Alex, do you have anything to add?
Just that I’d agree, really. I think they're logical, the paths that are set out, but we certainly can do better. We have a chance to revisit these, as we have just done and we will do again, as we make progress. And, as Haf said, really, I think it would be good to have much more of a discussion next time we do so.
Okay and I'll let you go first on the next question. Moving on to Jenny.
Since the Welsh Government declared a climate emergency in 2019—it seems an awful long time ago—have you seen improvements in the scale and pace of action to tackle and mitigate climate change?
I think, in that context, when I respond in terms of the climate emergency, I'm also weaving in the nature emergency as well, really. I know Welsh Government have sort of—. We've had some to-ing and fro-ing as to whether or not they're the same thing, or to what extent they mean both, but I think we've got to the point where they do now mean both, so we're moving forward in that regard.
I think the biggest impact we saw was the budget about a year ago, where we saw that £140 million coming in. Obviously, that wasn't enough to sort out all of the problems. I think the First Minister at the time described it as a down payment; I think that was the way we all saw it in the—[Inaudible.] We thought that was very welcome. Obviously, since then, COVID has happened, and a lot of that money was not able to be spent, for obvious reasons. So, we're seeing some of that recycled back into commitments after that point. So, hopefully we'll see some more of that delivered.
I think the big problem has been in terms of responding to that emergency, and the Government's response has been getting the right amount of money into the sector and into the system. I think the way it's been done so far, there's been a lot of dependency on rather short-term capital pots. When you consider that the sector has had a decade of not much money going into it, I think NRW have had a real-terms cut of 35 per cent since they were set up, so you haven't had a lot of that capacity in the system to really spend the money. And I think Lord Deben touched upon this in the wider UK as well: you need to have the people there working to actually deliver some of the things that you're trying to spend money for. So, I think that's where the biggest change needs to be from Welsh Government. But when I look at what the CCC said, and then I compare that to the budget we've just had, then, no, we're not there yet. Obviously, we're getting better, we're seeing bits more money going in, but we haven't seen that sufficient step change yet. So, hopefully, the other side of COVID, we might have the ability to do that, but we've said previously that we'd like to see spending stepped up.
We've given some ideas as to what that would look like. There have been reports based on previous CCC reports that suggest around 2 per cent of the budget [correction: of UK GDP]. We've always looked at those kinds of numbers at a UK level. When you work that into Wales, it came out at around £900 million a year. Obviously, we're on about £400 million at the moment. If you get the new farming support system working in a way that actually supports nature and tackles climate as well, you're already up to £600 million before you start moving forward. So, there are ways of doing that and I think the next couple of years is when we'll see whether or not the Welsh Government is making enough of a commitment to deliver on it.
Okay. I think—
Can Haf come in, Jenny?
Yes, Haf first.
Thank you. I think there have definitely been positive policy developments; there has been progress, definitely on energy and planning policy, and that move away from fossil fuel has been pretty clear, including coal. A clean-air strategy and White Paper, I think there's been a lot of development in that area—obviously not all—in terms of decarbonisation, but really important speeding ahead. And with waste, that's a move from beyond recycling and more towards a circular economy approach, although we haven't seen the final strategy there. And again with part L and the new housing levels, again, we haven't seen the final results, but there have been some steps. So, certainly progress, but I'd say not at the scale or pace that we'd expect to see in an emergency response. We haven't seen that sort of step up since declaring the climate emergency. So, of course, we've had other emergencies. Obviously COVID and the public health emergency and dealing with Brexit, of course, have been prioritised, and we do understand that, but we feel that the focus hasn't been there across Government, and it really needs to be in everything that they do, and we definitely need a step up to reflect that climate and ecological emergency.
The triple tsunami of the pandemic, leaving the European Union and all the implications of that, and the climate emergency, in which I include the nature emergency, that's not going to get easier, so do you detect a real commitment in the most recent Welsh Government budget to hold the line on decarbonisation and climate change, particularly that some of the new regulations will significantly increase the climate ambition that's enshrined in law?
I think it's been really positive the way the Welsh Government has embraced decarbonisation across the agenda, really. We keep seeing it there all the time. It gives that delivery element of it, and I think over the last year, things have been very difficult. I wouldn't be one to be too critical of what's gone on in the past year because it's been very abnormal. But the way that is delivered in tandem with nature, I think, is really important, and I think the test for me will be what we end up seeing in the programme for government next time round, in whatever political make-up that is. For me, if it isn't really saying, 'Yes, we're going to deliver the CCC recommendations of woodland planting and peatland restoration; yes, it's going to include Natura 2000 restoration; is it going to include spending on more diverse habitats like seagrass, saltmarsh, which are always left out of the mix a bit more, which have massive carbon sequestering potential? And does it really contain a commitment to have a public-goods based sustainable farming scheme?', if it's not doing those four things, for me, in this area, then no, we're not living up to the rhetoric that we've seen so far. So, that's what I think will be the judge, if that's in June or if it's in autumn. That's when I'll really go, 'Yes, the Government is serious about this and we're going to make progress over the next half decade.'
Okay. But from what you've seen so far of the different political parties' commitments, would you say that there is resolve to continue on the path from all of the main parties?
Let Haf have have a go next, Alexander.
With regard to that question, I don't think we've seen commitments as of yet or not—
We look forward to seeing the manifestos. But just a bit on Alex's point on the budget: regardless of what appears in individual budget lines and what that adds up to, what I think we still haven't got to—and you will have heard me saying this before, Jenny—is the complete carbon assessment of the fiscal budget. So, what the impact of all the budget measures are, so that we're not just looking at what the environment or nature or specific policy areas are getting that sort of relate, that we think relate directly to climate change, but actually looking across the board. So, that's what we'd hope to see in the next Senedd.
Okay. Janet, did you want to come in before I go on to the next—?
Yes. Can you hear me?
There are 52 known community-owned hydropower projects in Wales, many of which are currently supported through the business rates grant scheme. However, the Welsh Government has decided to support only community-owned hydropower projects from April 2021. Do you have concerns about this decision, given that these schemes remain a pivotal method through which farmers and landowners can contribute towards green energy production?
Haf, do you want to go first?
I'm happy to come in. We need to move to a completely renewable energy system, grid and communities, as soon as possible, and we need to rely on a whole range of renewable energy technologies to do that, and hydropower does have an important part to play in that, as well as sun and wind and marine, et cetera. So, we would be in favour of anything that encourages that and brings down the barriers to doing that, and particularly at a time when we're talking about diversification for farmers and for landowners, then that would seem like a positive direction to take. Of course, there are financial decisions to be made and choices to be made that I'm sure are very difficult, but we do need as many sustainable, especially community-run and community-owned projects as possible. But, hydro projects across Wales are really important.
Alexander, anything to add?
It's not something I work on directly, so I'd better hold my tongue on that one.
Fine. Okay. Back to you then, Jenny.
I think actually most of the reduction in emissions has come from the way we generate electricity, and a lot of that is not devolved. So, what are the specific sectors where you think we need to really press down in order to meet the targets that we've now set ourselves? Haf, do you want to go first?
Yes, sure. Yes, that's a good question. In some ways, I'd say we need to deliver on all sectors, but that's a politician's answer, isn't it? So, I shouldn't take that approach. [Laughter.]
I think I'd highlight transport as a problem sector or a rogue sector at the moment. We published a report last summer by consultants based up by Machynlleth, Transport for Quality of Life, and since then we've been feeding in to the transport strategy consultation and things like that. But with a 16 per cent share of Welsh emissions, and that's increased, and in real terms across emissions it hasn't reduced much as well, it really is a problem sector. So, we do need a transformation when it comes to travel and transport, and a different approach to that infrastructure, we believe. So, the big thing, really, is enabling a shift out of cars as much as possible to active travel, combined with integrated and accessible and affordable public transport. So, that's certainly not something that can happen overnight. I am pleased with the direction of travel, as it were, of the transport strategy, but we do need a lot of attention on that sector.
We're encouraging, obviously, active travel, but also cycle superhighways, as we see in other countries, like Copenhagen, and also in public transport. So, we need universal service standards so that everyone can live decently and access work and services without a car in Wales, and a much more integrated public transport system, as we've got an example of in our report, of Zurich, where there's one ticket, one timetable and one network system. As I say, we're not going to get that overnight; it is going to take changes in terms of governance, in terms of infrastructure, how we see travel and transport, and how we use it in our lives. But we do feel that it is an area that really does need a focus and a major shift. It's a problem at the moment.
Can I come back to you on that? Because what we've seen is—. Take today, under normal circumstances, we'd have all gone to Cardiff. It would have taken between 750—and I'm not quite sure where you and Alexander live—but somewhere between 750 and 1,000 miles' worth of travel. Most of us have now made our way to wherever we are either within our own home or on foot. Don't you see that it's not about mode of travel, it's about ending travel?
Yes, you're absolutely right, Mike, and it's the same as the principles of the hierarchy with waste: you reduce first before you think of recycling. So, we'd say with travel, I think this crisis has definitely shown us what we need to do and maybe where we need to change our habits, and that's where behaviour change comes in. I'm pleased that the Welsh Government has set a target for reducing that daily commute, and enabling more hubs where people can work and improving broadband. There are changes that are needed for that to continue but, certainly, I'm hoping that some of these changes and virtual meetings can continue as we recover beyond COVID. So, yes, certainly, it's about reduction and where do we need to travel, the quality time together or travelling for the right reasons and in the most sustainable way possible.
Obviously, many people can't work from home or remotely. So, how much do you think this focus on decarbonising our transport system is vulnerable to having to collaborate with the UK Government? The Burns commission is one where the Welsh Government is indicating that some of this requires the two Governments to collaborate. I'm not sure how we'll do that if that collaboration is not forthcoming. So, how vulnerable do you think that might be in terms of meeting targets?
It's certainly a challenge, particularly when it comes to funding and, of course, discussions about who gets to decide who funds what. But the Burns commission is an interesting example, I think; most of the recommendations there could largely be delivered by powers that are contained in local government and Welsh Government but then, of course, there's a question of funding and how that can be raised, and what tax powers there are, for example, currently within Wales. But most of the changes that we recommend and that we've outlined in our report are within the powers that Wales currently has in any case, and there have been developments recently suggesting setting up Transport for Wales and a more controlled and comprehensive response in terms of the railway system within Wales, and we'd like to see regulation of the bus sector as well. Things like that could make a big difference. So, there are big differences that we can make within our powers, and the shift away from a focus on roads and large road developments to a more integrated approach. But, of course, there are risks, so we do need a good system of communicating or of devolving the financial decision making, as well as the powers.
Alexander, do you want to add anything?
I suppose in terms of sectors, for me, the one that strikes me as always the most interesting, and the most long term, potentially, is that land use sector, because I think as we—. We had the issue with energy generation, we're starting to get on top of that, then we have transport, we're starting to get on top of that, then we have industry, and we move down and these other ones suddenly become more important. And the thing that always is really good about land use is that while it's not that big in and of itself, it just happens to be where we live. It is everywhere around us, so we have to deal with this issue, and also we have the most benefit for biodiversity as well.
So, I think, over time, that will become more important, and what it actually does—as I think you talked about earlier on in the previous session—is that it is a sink. I know that you've probably heard this word far too much in recent months, but it gives us headroom to do other things in other parts of the economy a bit more, and we need to be making this space work for us, not just in carbon terms but in nature terms as well, in order to allow us to have a functioning wider economy around that.
Lord Deben was very clear on this, wasn't he, that it's not possible to have zero emissions of agriculture activity, therefore we've got to have a lot more carbon sink activity to compensate for that. So, is this something where you think the Welsh Government has been sufficiently focused to date in the way it's going to approach land use?
When we look back at the first carbon budget, what it had in there was that it recognised that it was a sink, and the ambition was for it to still be a sink and for that sink to grow. But there hasn't really been much calculation around what that should be, and how quickly it should grow. So, you look around at some of the numbers and the CCC report, and some back-of-the-envelope calculations that I've been doing, you look at it basically being about 1.4 per cent of emissions, and it could grow to about 5 per cent or 6 per cent in the next couple of years. So, what CCC have said is if you focus on forestry/woodland and then you also focus on peatland, you get quite big increases, because they soak up the most carbon.
What I'd like to see is a bit more diversity on top of that. I'd like to see things like sea grass and salt marsh included in that as well, because of the nature benefit and also the equity of it. I can't help but feel that when we talk about woodland and peatland a lot, we're really talking about about one or two particular parts of Wales and particular communities we impact when we're doing that. I'd much rather see some of that spread across everyone and just having more diverse solutions really. So, I think that needs more focus. The Welsh Government, I think, are recognising that they need to do more work on the metrics of that. There's been a lot more work that's happened since carbon budget 1 that might improve that. We're still using some UK estimates. But hopefully we can get more down the path of what is the potential there for these different habitats, to change how we use land. I know RSPB in particular have got some work coming quite shortly that might help with that, and WWF is further behind them on the track of what does that look like at a spatial level in Wales, really.
Okay. So, the concept of a national forest and 1 million trees dispersed over Wales—does that not meet your desire for it to be a whole of Wales benefit?
I think a national forest is a fantastic idea. I'm less certain on the 1 million trees. We tend to deal in hectares. I'm not sure how many hectares 1 million trees makes up, but I know that the CCC report has said that the planting targets of Wales need to be much bigger than they are. I think they've set some figures for that now, which are quite substantial. I think if that comes under a banner of a national forest that has so many other benefits as well, particularly to society and economy, then I'm all for it. I think we need to just make sure that whilst we're delivering those key gains in woodland and peatland that we don't forget about the other bits as well, because they all have a role to play, particularly in biodiversity.
Right. Are there any other areas where you feel that the Government has or needs to be more ambitious in terms of its focus on how we get our emissions down?
I think that's a sector of interest for me. I'm not sure—. Outside of that, I'm probably not the best person to comment. I don't know if Haf has additional things.
Do you mean in terms of the next Government's programme?
The wider—. The next carbon budget and things like that?
It's really: how should the next low-carbon delivery plan differ from the first in order to rectify the weaknesses that you may or may not have identified in the first one?
Yes. As we've both mentioned, the next 10 years is crucial to make the change, but that means that the next five-year term and carbon budget is really crucial to put us on the right path, and I don't think we can emphasise that enough, of really how crucial it's going to be. There has to be change across sectors and across levels of society. So, yes, there's no time to pick and choose any more, really.
We produced a climate action plan for Wales, launched that in the autumn, which does take the COVID recovery lens of a green and fair recovery for people in communities in Wales, but sets out our proposals across different areas on what the second low-carbon delivery plan should deliver. But I think also it's about approach as well as specific policies. We would say that we should be prioritising funding and investment to protect vulnerable communities. This fits with the well-being of future generations approach, so communities vulnerable to flooding and those in fuel poverty and suffering from air pollution, and also we need to be assessing everything from a decarbonisation lens. So, what we don't do—. So, we'd say that we shouldn't be funding or giving permission to any high-carbon infrastructure in the next Senedd term, and also it's really important what we measure and what we value, and we are looking to replace GDP and growth as a primary measure with developing a living standards framework, so building on the national indicators that we've got but making that the primary measurement in Wales. But beyond that, there are areas that you'll all be familiar with: housing refurbishment programmes, so energy efficiency but also futureproofing, so looking at heat. There's a distinct lack of a heat strategy at the moment in Wales, and introducing heat pumps, we think, even on the basis of the UK committee on climate change report, that really needs to be scaled up and focused upon. It's not an easy thing to achieve, but it definitely needs to be a priority in the next plan.
And the clean air Act, as I've mentioned, clean air already is somewhere where we've made progress, but that needs to be introduced as soon as possible in the next Senedd term so that we can start really reducing that air pollution. And also, Alex has mentioned land use in general, but I think access to public green space in terms of tree planting, but also in our neighbourhoods—that everyone has access to green space, we're calling for, within a five-minute walk from their homes. So, that's both for health and well-being reasons and for decarbonisation reasons, but also to create more pleasant neighbourhoods to enable people to walk and cycle and live in a different way.
So, do you think that the Climate Change Committee's recommendation for this long-term vision for—that its focus on carbon budget 3 and the 2030 target is the right emphasis?
There certainly needs to be a long-term vision and direction of travel, and that needs to be ambitious and it needs to be positive and needs to spell out how these changes are, on the whole, positive for people and communities in Wales. When we're talking about the environment or climate change, it's often discussed in quite negative terms and to counteract that and counterbalance that, we believe that a positive vision of what these changes could mean and how they could improve people's lives and make us more resilient to future shocks and changes as well—. So, we would like to see that, but then, in terms of the measures, we would expect to see a focus on what would start to be delivered in the next five years, but some—for example some of the transport infrastructure projects that I've mentioned—will naturally have a longer life, so there needs to be a more medium-term commitment to those as well.
Okay. So, Alexander, do you think that's the right focus—the Climate Change Committee's recommendation that we focus on those targets that are going to be achievable in the period up to 2030?
Yes. I think, really, we've got to start with the baseline of what they say is a very good evidence base and we should be delivering that as a minimum, really. What we do in this decade will be vital. I mean, some of the policy-level things that we've talked about will contribute towards that. I know there's also a lot of work in the food system as well, which I know you guys know quite a bit about. I think, when you get into that level, if we're not in a good place by 2030, we just won't hit the target, so we've got to make sure that we are getting everything right out of the sixth and what will then be the seventh Senedd to make sure that we get there. So, I would absolutely endorse focusing on trying to do the most we can do between now and 2030, and I think we've talked about some of the ways that that can be done, really.
Over to you, Llyr Gruffydd. And, could you all excuse me for a few seconds? If I don't put the light on now, you won't be able to see me for much longer.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. Roeddwn i jest eisiau holi—jest i gario ymlaen gyda'r cwestiynau—ynglŷn â'r ail gynllun cyflawni carbon isel. I ba raddau mae'r cyrff rŷch chi'n eu cynrychioli'n rhan o'r broses o ddatblygu'r cynllun cyflawni yna, os o gwbl, wrth gwrs? Haf, efallai, i ddechrau.
Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to ask—just to carry on with the questions—on the second low-carbon delivery plan. To what extent are the bodies that you represent a part of the development of that delivery plan, if at all, of course? Haf, to start, maybe.
Dwi'n credu ei fod yn wir i ddweud, gyda'r cynllun cyntaf, roedden ni'n siomedig iawn bod diffyg ymwneud â grwpiau a'r cyhoedd, i fod yn hollol onest. Fawr iawn o gysylltiad oedd cyn y digwyddiad lansio. Felly, dŷn ni'n reit sicr bod eisiau i'r ail gynllun edrych yn wahanol iawn a bod eisiau'r broses o ddatblygu hwnna i fod yn wahanol. A dŷn ni yn croesawu'r hyn y mae Llywodraeth Cymru'n ei ddweud yn barod, amboutu bod hwn i fod i fod yn gynllun ar gyfer Cymru gyfan a bod e ddim jest i Lywodraeth Cymru, ond bod eisiau fe i fod ar gyfer pobl a chymunedau a sectorau gwahanol. Felly, mae hwnna'n addawol. Yn sicr, rhan greiddiol o'n cynllun gweithredu hinsawdd ni yw bod eisiau sicrhau bod tegwch a thaclo anghyfiawnderau sydd yng Nghymru yn hollbwysig hefyd. Felly, beth sy'n bwysig iawn yw nid dim ond i gynnwys ein mudiadau ni—wrth gwrs, bydden ni'n gofyn am hynny ac yn annog hynny, ac yn credu bod gyda ni rhywbeth i gyfrannu—ond mae'n bwysig iawn i gynnwys pobl sydd wedi'u heffeithio'n uniongyrchol gan newid hinsawdd, neu sy'n mynd i gael eu heffeithio gan y newidiadau sydd angen. Felly, rŷn ni'n sôn am y trawsnewidiad sydd ei angen ar gymdeithas. Mae'n bwysig iawn ein bod ni'n siarad efo'r grwpiau a'r unigolion a'r cymunedau sydd yn mynd i gael eu heffeithio gan hwnna. Felly, gobeithio y bydd rhagor o ymwneud. Fe wnaethom ni gymryd rhan.
Rwy'n credu bod rhai camau positif wedi digwydd yn barod gyda'r Wythnos Hinsawdd a ddigwyddodd yn yr hydref. Roedd ar-lein wrth gwrs, ond mi oedd hwnna'n dangos newid agwedd a newid ymddygiad o ran y Llywodraeth, eu bod nhw'n cynnig platfform i ni, a nifer o fudiadau ac unigolion eraill, i gynnig syniadau ac i redeg sesiynau ac i agor lan y drafodaeth. Ac, wrth gwrs, roedd e'n llawer iawn haws i wneud hynny ar draws Cymru gan ei fod yn blatfform digidol hefyd. Felly, mae'r ymwneud yna efo'r ail gynllun wedi cychwyn ac roeddem ni'n falch o fod yn rhan o hynny. Ond, wrth inni symud ymlaen—. Ac, wrth gwrs, rydym ni mewn blwyddyn sy'n edrych ar COP26 yn Glasgow hefyd, a gobeithio bydd mwy a mwy o sylw a mwy o ddiddordeb mewn newid hinsawdd, a'r angen i Gymru i fynd i Glasgow gyda neges gref ein bod ni am arwain y blaen, am fod yn arloesol a bwrw ati gyda newidiadau mawr, ac mae eisiau i bawb fod yn rhan o hynny. Felly, mae'n rhaid cael y drafodaeth gyda mudiadau, ond gyda'r cyhoedd hefyd, i bawb symud ymlaen yn gyflym.
I think it is true to say that, with the first plan, we were very disappointed that there was a lack of engagement with groups and the public, to be honest. There wasn't much engagement until the launch event. So, we are certain that the second plan needs to look very different and the process of developing that needs to be very different too. And we do welcome what the Welsh Government has already said about the fact that this needs to be a plan for the whole of Wales and that it is not just for the Welsh Government, but that it needs to be for people and communities and different sectors. So, that is very promising. Certainly, a core part of our climate change action plan is that we need to ensure that there's fairness and we need to tackle injustices in Wales, and that's vital too. So, what is very important is not just to include our organisations—of course we would ask for that and encourage that, and we think that we have something to contribute—but it is very important to include people who have been directly affected by climate change, or who are going to be affected by the changes that are needed. So, we're talking about the transformation that's needed by society. It's very important that we speak to the groups and the individuals and the communities that are going to be affected by that. So, hopefully there will be more engagement. We did take part.
There have been some positive steps already with the Climate Week, which happened in the autumn. It was online, of course, but that did show a change of attitude on behalf of the Government, that they offered a platform for us and a number of other organisations and individuals to propose ideas and to run sessions and to open up the debate. Of course, it was much easier to do that across Wales because it was a digital platform. So, that engagement with the second plan has started and we were pleased to be part of that. But, as we move forward—. And, of course, we're in a year where we're looking at COP26 in Glasgow as well, and hopefully there will be more attention given to and more interest in climate change, and the need for Wales to go to Glasgow with a strong message that we want to be in the vanguard, and be innovative and press ahead with major changes, and that everyone needs to be part of that. So, we have to have the discussion with the public and with organisations for everyone to move forward rapidly.
A byddwn i'n gobeithio bydd y pwyllgor yma, neu o leiaf y pwyllgor dilynol yn y Senedd nesaf, yn chwarae ei ran yn hynny o beth hefyd. Ydy Alex eisiau ychwanegu rhywbeth at y sylwadau yna ynglŷn â rôl y sector wrth ddatblygu'r cynllun cyflawni?
And I would hope that this committee, or at least the successor committee in the next Senedd, will take part in that as well. Does Alex want to add anything to that, in terms of the role of the sector in developing the delivery plan?
I think this is something that we recognise that there's a lot more that can be improved upon as to what happened last time. Looking through the engagement plan that they published a few months ago, there are a couple of gaps there. Obviously they've re-jigged it because of COVID, but I noticed in the timeline that the regulations get published or voted on next month, and then there's nothing in the timeline until the budget is published. And, obviously, between those two things one would like a little bit more formal engagement. It would have been lovely to be able to see a draft of what they're planning, for instance.
I know they're inviting open submissions via a dropbox, I think, on the website somewhere, which, I have to confess, I have e-mailed twice in the last eight weeks and not had a response to either of the questions I put in. So, I'm not quite sure if anybody's actually monitoring it at the moment. But I think when you a look at the engagement hierarchy, a lot of the stuff that they're doing in this back end of it is very much telling us what's going on, rather than co-producing it as much as maybe they could have done and relying on certain events that happened earlier last year.
So, I'd like to see more. I think there's a fantastic resource we've just had in CCC report, which is going to—well, that's required—inform a lot of what they've come out with. So, do I just take that as read that they're going to do that and then do extra, or are they just going to do that? That's what I'd like to have a discussion about really, particularly in some sectors. I've already talked to you all to death about land use and some of the potential that we have there that's in addition to what they've said, but I'd like to see a bit more in that regard, really.
Ie, mae hwnna'n codi pwynt diddorol, achos yn ei dystiolaeth yn gynharach prynhawn yma, roedd yr Arglwydd Deben yn—. Gwnes i ofyn iddo fe ynglŷn â'r amgylchiadau newydd nawr ôl pandemig, gyda'r naratif gwleidyddol yma o adferiad gwyrdd ac adeiladu yn ôl yn gryfach ac yn y blaen, a bod yna gyfle i adolygu'r targedau presennol, hyd yn oed, yng ngoleuni efallai'r sifft yna o safbwynt buddsoddiad yn y dyfodol ac yn y blaen. Ond roedd e'n rhyw rwyfo yn ôl ychydig, ac yn dweud, wel, fod yn well ganddo fod yn bragmatig a sicrhau bod targedau cynaliadwy, yn lle bod pobl efallai yn colli calon a bod yn rhy uchelgeisiol. Roedd hynny'n fy nharo i fel anelu i ddringo hanner ffordd lan y mynydd a llwyddo, lle, i bob pwrpas, rydych chi'n anelu am y copa, efallai na wnewch chi ddim cyrraedd, ond mi ewch chi'n bellach na hanner ffordd, ac wedyn doeddwn i ddim yn siwr iawn—. Beth fyddai eich cyngor chi i Lywodraeth Cymru? Ai bodloni ar y targedau? Fel roedd Alex yn ei ddweud, ai dyna fydd approach y Llywodraeth? Neu a fyddech chi, dwi'n tybio, fel fi ac eraill, yn awyddus i'w gweld nhw'n mynd yn bellach? Haf.
Yes, that raises an interesting point, because in his evidence earlier this afternoon Lord Deben—. I asked him about the new circumstances post pandemic, with the political narrative of a green recovery and building back better and so forth, and that there was an opportunity to review the current targets, even, in light of the the shift in terms of investment in the future and so forth. But he rowed back a little bit and said, well, he would rather be pragmatic and ensure that targets were achievable, instead of people losing heart and being too ambitious. That struck me as seeking to get halfway up the mountain and succeeding, but, to all purposes, you aim for the summit, you might not succeed, but at least you'd have got further than halfway, and then I wasn't sure—. What would your advice would be for the Welsh Government? Should we be satisfied with the targets? As Alex said, will that be the Government's approach? Or would you, as I presume, like myself and others, be keen to see them go further? Haf.
Ie, os caf i ddod mewn. Dwi'n credu bod hwnna'n adlewyrchu rôl statudol Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd y Deyrnas Unedig. Mae'n rhaid iddyn nhw allu profi a bod yn hollol sicr bod pethau yn gyraeddadwy, ac mae hwnna'n eu gwneud nhw efallai ychydig bach yn geidwadol, gydag 'g' fach, wrth gwrs, ar adegau. A dyna pam y buaswn i wedi hoffi gweld proses fwy manwl o graffu ac o gymryd tystiolaeth o gyrff eraill, fel Canolfan Tyndall, wrth gwrs, a chael barn ar os gall Cymru symud yn gynt. Dwi'n reit ffyddiog y gall Cymru symud yn gynt a dwi'n credu ei fod e'n bwynt diddorol ynglŷn â'r effaith y mae'r pandemig wedi'i gael ar bobl, fel y gwnaeth y Cadeirydd gyfeirio ato yn gynharach, o ran pobl yn gweithio gartref a phobl yn newid ymddygiad.
Dwi yn credu bod modd i ni fod yn fwy uchelgeisiol, gan edrych ar ymddygiad pobl, beth mae cymunedau eisiau ei gyflawni a beth y maen nhw'n pwyso ar i bobl ar lefel llywodraeth leol ac ar lefel Llywodraeth Cymru ei newid, ac y dylem ni fod yn symud ymlaen yn gynt. Felly, buaswn i'n dweud bod hynny'n adlewyrchiad o rôl statudol y pwyllgor, a dylem ni fod yn cymryd hwnna fel man cychwyn, ond wedyn yn adeiladu ar, 'Iawn, beth allwn ni ei wneud fel gwlad sydd yn gyfrifol yn rhyngwladol, sydd â'r cyfrifoldeb yna i'r byd ac sydd yn arloesol ac eisiau bod ar y blaen yn hyn? Sut allwn ni fynd yn bellach?'
Yes, if I can come in on that. I think that does reflect the statutory role of the Climate Change Committee of the UK. They have to prove and be entirely certain that things are achievable and that makes them perhaps a little conservative, with a small 'c', at times. And that's why I would have liked to have seen a more detailed process of scrutiny and taking evidence from other bodies, such as the Tyndall Centre, and having an opinion on whether Wales can move more quickly. I'm quite confident that Wales can move more quickly, and I think it is an interesting point about the impact that the pandemic has had on people, as the Chair referred to earlier, in terms of people working from home and changing their behaviours.
I think it is possible for us to be more ambitious and look at people's behaviour, what communities want to achieve and what kind of pressure they're putting on local authorities and the Welsh Government for change, and we should be moving forward more quickly. I would say that that is a reflection of the statutory role of the committee, and we should take that as a starting point, but then build on that and ask, 'Well, what can we do as a country that's internationally responsible, has a responsibility to the world, is innovative and wants to be in the vanguard on this? How can we go further than that?'
Ie, ocê. Jest cwestiwn olaf, felly caiff Alex ateb yn gyntaf a chaiff Haf ymateb wedyn: jest o ran y cynllun cyflawni ei hun, yn amlwg, mi fydd yna bolisïau a chynigion penodol yn hwnnw. Fe fyddech chi, dwi'n tybio, yn awyddus i weld targedau lleihau allyriadau penodol i bob un o'r rheini ac, wrth gwrs, fod y cyfan wedi'i gostio'n llawn. Ie?
Yes. Just a final question, and maybe Alex can answer first and then Haf: in terms of the delivery plan itself, evidently there will be specific policies in that. I'm sure you would be eager to see targets for reducing emissions specifically for each of those, and that everything is fully costed. Is that what you'd like to see?
I think, absolutely, where that is possible that should be done as a basis, really. As Haf said, really, we can go further in Wales. We have more specialist knowledge, sometimes. The CCC can't go to the depths that the Welsh Government goes to; it can't go to the depths that, maybe, some non-governmental organisations can go to. That's for us to make the case, and the discussions with the Welsh Government should be, 'All work together to try to push a bit forward and do it in more detail where possible', but certainly we should try to have targets and costings for that. I think, also, when it's not possible to do that, we should be clear about why it isn't possible and what steps we're taking to improve the process. Excuse me while my baby has his nappy changed behind me. [Laughter.]
Hoffet ti ychwanegu rhywbeth, Haf?
Do you want to add anything, Haf?
Jest i adeiladu ar hynny, ie, yn sicr, costau delifro'r mesurau, ond beth sy'n fwy anodd i'w ddangos ond sydd yn hollbwysig yw cost peidio â gweithredu, yn enwedig ar gyfer sectorau fel y sector iechyd. Os dydyn ni ddim yn taclo'r argyfwng hinsawdd nawr, mae llawer rhagor o gostau yn mynd i fod mewn blynyddoedd i ddod. Mae hwnna'n beth mwy anodd i'w ddangos, ond dwi'n credu bod hwnna'n rhan bwysig o'r darlun cyflawn a, fel dwi wedi sôn o'r blaen, cost popeth yn y gyllideb ariannol yn ogystal, felly yr asesiad carbon yna o bopeth rydym ni'n ei wario, fel ein bod ni'n gallu edrych nid yn unig ar yr hyn rydym ni'n ei gynnig, ond bod yn hollol onest am yr hyn rydym ni'n stopio ei wneud, a bod hynny'n asesiad ar gyfer pob prosiect mawr a'r isadeiledd rydym ni'n ei ddatblygu yng Nghymru.
Yes, just to build on that, certainly, costings of delivering the measures, but what's more difficult to show, but which is vital, is the cost of not acting, particularly in sectors such as health. If we don't tackle the climate emergency now, there are going to be far more costs in years to come. That's more difficult to show, but I do think that that is a very important part of the full picture and, as I've said previously, the cost of everything in the financial budget as well, so the carbon assessment of everything that we spend, so that we can look at not only at what we offer, but be honest about what we're not doing, and that there is an assessment for every major project and the infrastructure that we develop in Wales.
Ocê, diolch yn fawr iawn. Diolch.
Okay, thank you very much.
Yes, I'm here. The pandemic has seen many people engage with our natural heritage, something that was recently underpinned by many Aberconwy constituents taking part in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds's annual bird watch. The RSPB has previously said that part of our recovery should be the recognition of a nature crisis, with binding targets. Is this call replicated by your organisations as a sensible realisation of the issue?
Definitely, we need nature targets in Wales; I think we're heading in that direction. The case I don't think has been completely made, but I think the Minister has spoken a lot more positively about nature targets in the last couple of weeks than she has done in some time, which is very welcome as we head towards COP.
I think one thing we've really learnt with this pandemic is just how important nature is. I'm gagging to get up a mountain; I haven't left this city in about six months now, so I feel it as much as anybody really. But, really, as we move forward, we need to have a structure over the next decade that's delivering for biodiversity. I think targets are part of that structure.
Thank you. In December, the UK Government appointed the inaugural Chair of the Office for Environmental Protection, despite pressures from COVID-19 and Brexit. In contrast, Wales is dawdling with the appointments for an interim post. Do you have concerns that the Welsh Government has placed long-term arrangements for environmental governance on the back burner, and how do you think this is going to impact now on our recovery?
Well, I think, definitely—. I think I've appeared in front of the committee before and complained at length about the pace at which the environmental governance issue is being addressed in Wales. We do have an interim assessor—I think it's just been announced—in place, the day before yesterday. I'm not precisely sure of her background, but I do know that position is there. But, still, that should have happened a very long time ago and I know that, in the weeks before Christmas, the Welsh Government slightly downgraded the expectation for what that commissioner should be doing and how that should function.
Really, without primary legislation, we're not going to get anywhere in Wales, and I think the Welsh Government's legal advice recognised that. So, I haven't been too critical over the minor change that happened before, because it's effectively asking me to critique Foster's and Carling when I would quite like some Purple Moose, really. It's so far away from where we want to go that it becomes quite difficult to fuss over the minor things. Wales will get primary legislation eventually, and I think we should be moving straight ahead with pre-legislative scrutiny of that before we get to the election really, because we need to have that Bill or Wales will fall behind otherwise. We have prepared less well than the other parts of the UK. Even with the criticism of the UK Government that's been made on the laying of the Environment Bill, I appreciate they've done a lot of the groundwork and will get up and running quicker than us, and that may put us in jeopardy in the long term.
Thank you. Rural stakeholders have made clear that the Welsh Government have failed to consider the impact of offshoring food production as a result of them imposing an all-Wales nitrate vulnerable zone. Those are supposedly in line with principles under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. What concerns do you have about such offshoring? And what advice would you have for the Minister to ensure that such rural policies actually remain globally responsible?
Who wants to go first? Alexander.
I can't hear.
We can't hear you.
Sorry, I was on mute on my end. I'll probably slightly sidestep the NVZ specifics, because I think that's been gone through at quite a lot of length, but in terms of offshoring, that should be avoided. I think Lord Deben has said, as much as possible, that we should be avoiding that. We do incredibly good work in Wales. I think that shouldn't be an excuse not to make things better. I think there's an awful lot of improvements that can be made in Wales, particularly from a biodiversity perspective. But we've got to be working with communities, and I think the future of land use is a key part of that.
Okay. One of the seven well-being goals is to create a Wales of cohesive communities. In a previous CCERA session, I asked the green delivery partnership to review their projects to ensure that they bring our rural and Welsh-primary-language communities into the fold. Given your histories of community engagement, how best do you think community cohesion can be approached under climate policies, and will it be through training and placement opportunities?
I think WWF has done quite a lot of community engagement around the world, and there are quite a lot of lessons that we keep learning and mistakes we keep making. I think, in the Welsh context and the UK context, what we quite often do is that we will get some polling of an issue and we'll find that we have lots of support for it, and then we assume we then have support for the ways we would achieve that, and there's often a gap between those two things, and that comes back to bite us quite often. I think you've got to really start from the ground up with communities and be developing a plan that suits their needs with them, rather than just saying, 'This is what we're going come in and do.' That does dispel a lot of the myths, because there are negative actors out there who will whip up controversy at the first sign really. So, I'd like to see more of that and I think, in Wales, all those lessons apply that we've learnt elsewhere as well really. You've got to work with communities and come to them with a proposal, but actually work out the solutions with them really, because otherwise they feel like stuff is being done to them, and that's not what anybody wants, certainly not what I want—people coming and doing stuff to me—so I try and work with them.
If I can build on that. I think, as I've mentioned before, it's particularly important to involve communities that are impacted by climate change in Wales, but also will be impacted by the changes that we want to see, and ensuring a just transition. It's particularly important when it comes to vulnerable groups and those that are impacted. I absolutely agree with Alex that we don't want things to be done to communities, that they should be done in participation, and remembering that, actually, they are the experts on their local areas and have a lot of knowledge and positive contribution to give. So, it's not just about a consulting approach but very much about participating and co-developing solutions together.
We've seen, in recent years, a definite growing appetite in communities to work together and to take action, particularly on climate change. We've seen an increase of groups and climate action groups developing in different areas and really taking the agenda on themselves, both in terms of influencing decision makers and in community projects, whether it's electric car clubs or tree planting or litter picking, that people really do want to make a difference and that the role of communities has become all the more important during this crisis, as we are staying at home and in our local communities and relying on our neighbours and neighbourhoods even more and maybe appreciating them more as well. So, we definitely need to build on that, and I'd say that there is an appetite and a really positive role that our communities can play.
Thank you. On to you, Neil.
The Climate Change Committee has said in its report that it plans to create some indicators to monitor Wales's progress towards net zero, but we haven't got any flesh on those bones as yet. So, I wonder if you could give us your ideas on what these indicators would look like, what they should contain.
Well, we'd like to see what they're proposing, really. I think, as you established in your last session, there is very little detail on what that will be and how much it will be integrated with Government. Obviously, in Wales, we have other indicators that have been developed from the WFGA. Not all of those have really been done yet. I know the ones for habitat and species have been quite limited. I think the problem you can get with indicators is making sure that they're not too composite so that they can't be pulled apart. The worst thing that you can have is an indicator that is made up of so many things that it can tell you a good story when, actually, there are terrible stories beneath it. So, you need to be able to clearly pull them apart. I know that was a critique we made at the review of the indicators a few years ago, that the WFGA was working on.
I think the important thing for us is that we make sure that we factor in consumption as well as just domestic production of emissions on that front as well, and we really should be looking to make sure that we have a full picture. There's a lot of work still to be done in making that function properly. I know WWF has got some work forthcoming that might be helpful with that, which, obviously, we'll be sharing with Government at the right time.
One indicator I'd quite like to see is going back to the land use sink. I'd like to see something around the pace at which that grows. I think that would be quite useful, to see if we're on the right track in terms of getting emissions down and then getting the sinks up.
If I can build on that, yes, I'd agree. I'm not absolutely clear if the committee on climate change mean indicators in terms of improving the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions—so, more about the detail of what's counted, or is it something more fundamental and more along the lines of the current national indicators that we have under the well-being Act? So, I would like to see some proposals. If it does something more fundamental, I think I'd refer you back to the living standards framework for Wales that we are proposing that should be introduced as a suite of indicators or measurements for Wales. This is the approach that New Zealand and the New Zealand Government have been undertaking in recent years. And there's been some interesting work by other organisations and things that Oxfam have done, looking at the 'Welsh doughnut'—so, looking at a suite of indicators that are more based around well-being and, of course, including the environment strongly in that.
And, yes, in terms of specifics, I'd agree with Alex that consumption emissions is a big missing piece of the jigsaw at the moment. All the targets, though, that are referring to net zero refer to what we produce in Wales, not what we consume, and we certainly need to look at our global responsibilities, what we use, what we bring in from other places. Impacts such as deforestation are really important, so we'd want to make sure that those are in there.
What you've just said on returns to the outsourcing point, there's no point in reducing emissions in Wales if you're exporting those emissions to other parts of the world. So, how you measure the impact of that is going to be an important part of this scheme. And, of course, some of the things that you've mentioned don't lend themselves very easily to what you might call arithmetic measurements, so to what extent can we factor that into the equation as well?
We have done some work in the past on different types of footprint approaches. So, we have used the ecological footprint approach in Wales in the past, but you can get more specific and look, for example, at the material footprint, the water footprint, the land footprint of the things that we consume in Wales. So, there is a way of calculating and building up as full picture as we can, then, have of our global footprint—our consumption emissions, as it were. Some of these are still in development, and, yes, certainly, we need to develop further indicators and ensure that we've got that data available on a Wales level. There are issues with things like import and export data on a Wales level, rather than just on a UK level, that need to be developed, and hopefully that can be part of this process with the committee on climate change and Welsh Government.
And lastly, then, as we're all about to submit ourselves to the tender mercies of the electorate, and looking ahead to the sixth Senedd, what would be your key asks for our successor committee in undertaking its work on climate change and decarbonisation? What do you think our ambition should be for the next Senedd?
I think, from my perspective, on top of making sure the Government delivers those four things I suggested earlier on about investing in land use changes and support for that, I think, really, you've got to be looking at nature-based solutions and the role they play in nature and climate. In the short term, really, you've got to be looking at what the environmental governance make-up is for Wales. I think that's going to be a big issue coming into the first year of the next term. Also, I think—and this isn't necessarily just this committee—with all that's gone on in the last five years, there has been a tendency in committees to move towards rather short, sharp inquiries on things, and I do kind of miss that in-depth scrutiny that the fourth Assembly had the time to do. This might be a pipe dream of mine, looking back through rose-tinted glasses when Llyr and I and others were just quite happy in the fourth Assembly doing relatively easy things, but with that longer term analysis of the problems going on and really getting a lot more evidence and spending some more time with people to get some long-term reports. I think, hopefully, we might be in a space to do that a bit more as we are delivering on CCC as a baseline, and trying to move beyond that in the next term.
I agree entirely. I think that some very short inquiries are just good at keeping us busy but don't actually achieve a great deal.
There were quite a lot of very short inquiries in the last Senedd as well, and not necessarily within this area. We've done some fairly lengthy and good pieces of work on fuel poverty, for example, where we've spent a lot of time. I think the thing is—and this is a criticism of us and I think we ought to take it on the chin—we do need to choose what we're doing and do it well, rather than try and do everything that interests everybody. And I think that's really—
And another criticism of us and I think it's a good one, and I think it's one we perhaps need in our legacy report, is that you really do need to get it right. In the last Senedd term, I was serving on the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee produced very few reports but all were brilliant. I also served on the Public Accounts Committee, which, if it had more than three witnesses, it needed crowd control, and it produced an awful lot that wasn't very good. I think the more you go in-depth to things, the better you can be. We have done some good in-depth stuff on the marine environment, which we really have pushed up the political agenda. I know Joyce isn't here, but she's played a huge role in doing that. But, I think that, if it's a criticism, it's one that we need to take on the chin: do more, well. Haf.
Just to build on that, I think scrutiny of Government and other public bodies is a really key role of the committee, and has been through this Senedd term. I think the more targets and definite plans and indicators that we have, it makes it easier to scrutinise. I think it can be difficult when you're scrutinising and the answer is that something is in development or in consultation or in that process, and going round that circle can be difficult. But I think that the real key role of the annual scrutiny of climate targets and things like that has been really important, and I hope that continues into the next term.
I think the breadth of issues that this committee has to cover is quite astounding and, looking at the next term, I would question whether climate change, the environment and rural affairs can sit within one committee. I also recognise it's really difficult with only 60 Members of the Senedd, and some, of course, who are in Government and holding other roles. We don't want to spread you all too thinly across different committees, so it's a difficult balance to strike.
And then, just in terms of not quite issues, but the issues that have been raised with environmental governance as cross-border issues and across nations as well, it's going to become more important to get that right and to have that conversation across, maybe, the different Parliaments, Seneddau and institutions across the UK. So, there could be an interesting role there where there can be dealing with cross-border issues, but, yes, environmental governance, especially given the gap that we've identified with having a full office in place to take on that role in the post-Brexit world that we're in.
Also, I'm interested in how we deal with cross-cutting issues. A climate change committee should play a really important role in developing the second low-carbon delivery plan and then in scrutinising delivery of that. But that's also a role for all committees across the Senedd, so I guess that's a bit of an open question about how to deal with those cross-cutting issues that should sit across all Senedd committees, really.
And finally, Jenny Rathbone.
Following on what you were saying about perhaps the need to divide up the subject matter of this committee, because I think there's a—. If you have climate change, environment and rural affairs in three separate committees, you won't be getting that interface between them, and given that we can agree that the climate emergency and the nature emergency are so intricately based, there are dangers in that, though I agree with you that the carbon reduction targets need to be everybody's business—that that needs to go across all the committees.
Thank you. Haf, do you want to have a final—?
I'd agree. It's always a challenge, and whichever way you slice the cake, it's never quite going to work. I always wonder if there is some merit in what lessons can be learned from the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 with how we divide these things up and maybe committees around the goals might function in some way. But I've suggested the same things to the First Minister about his Cabinet, but it's never got anywhere, so I might as well try it here as well.
But I should say, just to finish off, thank you for all the work that you've done over the past few years, as well, and I know you guys never get any credit or compliments normally, so I'll be the one to say 'thank you and you do a good job'. Thanks.
Thank you very much. Haf.
I've got to back that up, haven't I? Come on. [Laughter.] The role of the scrutiny committees and subject committees is a crucial part of our democracy. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you, but also, yes, the role of holding Welsh Government and others to account is really crucial, and it's a difficult job, and I agree with you, Jenny, there's no great or ideal way to slice that cake, because decarbonisation and climate change do impact absolutely every subject across Welsh Government, so maybe it's a case of thinking differently about the committee structure.
At that point, which is exactly when we should be finishing, thank you, both, very much. You know you'll get a transcript and you know you can check the transcript. You've both appeared often enough to know enough about how we work. Can I again thank you not just for today but the number of times you've come along and talked to us? I can say I've found it and I'm sure everybody else has found it very helpful in our deliberations and, hopefully, which is the real bit, it'll have some effect on what happens in Wales. Thank you.
Thank you. Bye.
Diolch yn fawr.
Next, can we note the seven papers that we've got in front of us?