Friday, 13 November 2009

From the record - prepearing for Copenhagen Climate talks

Assembly Record of proceedings 3rd November 2009
Leanne Wood: Plaid Cymru supports the calls from the environment movement for wealthy industrialised countries to commit to a cut of at least 40 per cent in domestic emissions by 2020. This call is not just about getting the UK Government to agree to such a target, but about persuading other industrialised countries to agree that a 40 per cent cut in emissions is a fair and just approach for the sake of a global deal. If you agree with that call, Minister, there are clear implications for the One Wales Government and the commitment to cut our emissions by 3 per cent per year after 2011. I know that the climate change commission is looking at the feasibility of emission cuts of 3 per cent, 6 per cent and 9 per cent, so I would be grateful to hear whether you think that Wales can commit to cutting emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.

We also support calls for the rich industrialised countries — those of us who have grown relatively rich on the back of fantastically high emissions historically — to provide additional money for non-industrialised countries to grow in a way that does not cause more harm to our planet.

We are all aware that climate change will bring more desertification, floods, droughts and famines. Some countries will need support to cope with the mass movements of people that are bound to arise as a result of that, as well as the finance to green their existing industries. Oxfam has called for an additional 0.7 per cent on top of existing aid commitments. I would be grateful to hear the Welsh Assembly Government’s view on that.

We would also like to see action to reduce the use of large-scale biofuels, as well as action to halt the destruction of the world’s forests. We recognise that we need to make adjustments to our own lifestyles, which help to promote the destruction of those forests. We should be making strong representations to the UK Government, which is the body that has the seat at the top table in Copenhagen. We in Wales should be prepared to make our own share of the cuts.

My final point is that Plaid Cymru is of the view that Wales should have direct representation in Copenhagen. We should have our own seat at that top table, and I would be grateful to hear whether the Minister agrees with that.

Jane Davidson: An awful lot of figures are bandied around in this debate. With regard to some of the early issues regarding the targets, the initial target in the Climate Change Act 2008 was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 34 per cent by 2020, against a 1990 baseline. There was then a call for a 40 per cent reduction by 2020, against a 1990 baseline. To look at our reductions against a 1990 baseline, greenhouse gas emissions are now 14.7 per cent lower, and carbon dioxide emissions are 9.5 per cent lower, as shown by the figures for 2007 that I announced in September.

The Climate Change Commission for Wales met with the independent Committee on Climate Change, which came to launch its report in Wales on the further action that needs to be taken, and when it should be taken, in the context of the UK Government meeting its 80 per cent target by 2050, it said clearly that our 3 per cent reduction target in relation to our devolved responsibilities was the most ambitious target in the UK; it is over and above the reductions that will come through the EU emissions trading scheme for example — for the large emitters — which will also improve reductions. Therefore, the figures are complex. We are determined to achieve a minimum of a 3 per cent reduction. Further work has been undertaken by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which is probably the foremost climate change centre in the United Kingdom, in looking at reductions of 3 per cent, 6 per cent and 9 per cent a year, and what those would look like. That work is due to be published before Copenhagen, so we will have a chance to look at that as well.

The Government has always made it clear that the 3 per cent reduction target was a political target; science leads us in a further direction. If every country in the world achieved a 3 per cent reduction, we would not restrict global warming to a 2 per cent rise. Therefore, in a sense, there are major stakes for us all. I am looking at the maximum reductions that can be achieved in our final climate change strategy, which will come out in the early part of the new year.

I agree with you on the relationship with developing countries. One important element of the role that Wales has been given in the nrg4sd, and others, has been our commitment to sustainable development and the ecological footprint. The ecological footprint relates to bringing our share of the Earth’s resources down to our fair share, in the same kind of timescale as in the context of climate change. We have already put more than £0.5 million into our Wales for Africa programme, some of which will contribute towards the territorial approach to climate change, whereby we are one of the 10 pilot regions in the world of the United Nations development programme, and we have a link with the Mbale region of Uganda. That gives us a real opportunity to work on that agenda.

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