Mark Drakeford launches plans to achieve a net zero Wales

First Minister Mark Drakeford and climate change minister Julie James have announced the creation of more than 120 policies Credit: ITV Wales

A “decade of action” is needed to tackle the climate change crisis, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said during the formal launch of a plan on how the country will reach net zero by 2050.

By then, the Welsh Government wants the amount of greenhouse gases Wales adds to the atmosphere to no longer be more than it takes out.

At the heart of the strategy is a push to help people live more environmentally friendly lives by driving less, cutting their energy use and buying local food.

It comes as ministers prepare to meet with world leaders in Glasgow for the United Nations COP26 climate talks.

The First Minister will be attending the climate change conference in Glasgow.

The FM and climate change minister Julie James announced the creation of more than 120 policies covering every area of life, from peatland restoration to renewable energy.

Proposals include:

  • Building 20,000 new low carbon homes

  • Increasing community tree planting through creating 30 new woodlands

  • Legally abolishing single use plastics

  • Helping develop green skills in businesses

They also plan to invest in travel options that encourage people to use public transport more and support walking and cycling.

Councils, health boards and other public bodies will be expected to publish plans by 2023 on how they are going to reach net zero by 2030.

Merthyr Council was one of the first in Wales to open household recycling centres. Credit:

And there are also plans to force businesses to recycle more.

Wales is already one of the top three countries in the world on the global leaderboards for recycling, and in 2017 it was announced it had hit its target four years early, recycling 64% of all its waste.

Much of the new scheme focuses on the period between 2021 and 2025, when a 37% reduction in greenhouse gases is needed to meet the devolved government’s second carbon budget.

Climate change: Paying the price Credit: PA

The estimated cost to implement the measures over the next five years is £4.2 billion.

At the launch event, which took place at the Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator in Margam, Port Talbot, Mr Drakeford said: “That's what it's all about - the launch of net zero Wales, our national goal net zero by 2050 and the decade of action that we have to agree on together if we are to succeed in reaching that essential goal."

He added: “We're launching the plan today, of course, as part of the build up to the Glasgow COP26 conference and that will be a major moment, not just for Wales but for the whole globe.

"A chance to see how the commitments made in Paris five years ago are now being translated into action here in Wales."

Running to more than 90,000 words, the plan is an example of the Welsh Government’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency, Ms James said.

“But it is merely a snapshot in time,” she added.

“Our policies need to be delivered, our proposals need to grow and need to be shaped in conversation with the people of Wales,” she said.

“From creating places for nature to giving the poorest people in Wales warmer, more energy efficient homes, as well as the things we want to take forward in this Government term and in this carbon budget, like a reformed sustainable farming scheme and creating a national forest.

“We recognise we haven’t got all of the answers – we want to work with and learn from people across Wales to find innovative solutions to the challenges we face.”