Assembly government 'lacks data on carbon target'

Car exhaust
Image caption The assembly government wants to cut carbon emissions by 3% year on year

The Welsh Assembly Government's goal of carbon reduction is being hindered by a "concerning lack of data", according to a cross-party committee.

In a report, the assembly's sustainability committee said more information was needed to learn what effect policies were having.

It said carbon reduction needed greater priority in government policy.

The assembly government said the report did not take into account its latest Climate Change Strategy.

Devolved areas

The assembly government has committed to reducing carbon production by 3% year-on-year in devolved areas, like transport, residential electricity use, business and the public sector, starting in 2011.

However, it does not include emissions from heavy industry and power generation.

The committee said much of the target would, in fact, be achieved by UK government policies.

Committee chair Kirsty Williams AM said the government's Climate Change Strategy for Wales had "shortcomings".

She said: "We would urge the Welsh government to collect and publish clear and accurate statistics showing how Wales is contributing towards sustaining our planet for future generations."

"We think that [goal] can be done by the [assembly] government using its devolved powers rather than relying on UK government action to achieve much of Wales' 3% reduction target," added Ms Williams.

The committee said there was a "lack of joined-up approaches between government departments and agencies, which leads to confused and conflicting messages regarding carbon reduction".

One-stop shop

The sustainability committee called for the establishment of a "one-stop shop" for all information and advice about carbon reduction.

It said: "The new organisation should be the only point of contact for inquiries and advice on and help with accessing grants and contractors, and should take a pro active role in engaging all areas of and sectors in Wales in carbon reduction."

The inquiry from the cross-party group of AMs also found that while some government departments and agencies were dedicated to a sustainability agenda, others made it much less of a priority.

In some cases the committee found policies and priorities working against each other through a lack of joined-up thinking.

It said that the Welsh government's planning policies led to confusion and conflict for local authorities when considering the carbon reduction aspects of applications.

'Mixed commitment'

Gordon James, president of Friends of the Earth Cymru, agreed there was a mixed commitment to carbon reduction across different assembly government departments.

He said: "The [environment] minister is clearly very committed but we are not so certain about some other departments."

Friends of the Earth said that while the 3% cut in emissions would be made in areas of devolved competence, the strategy showed that less than one-third of this would be delivered by the assembly government.

The group said that transport policies in Wales would only make a small contribution, 0.1%, to the 3% target.

Mr James said: "We feel that the 3% target should have been more ambitious. The lack of joined-up thinking in Wales is shown by the lack of ambition in the transport target."

An assembly government spokesperson said: "We welcome the sustainability committee's final report on carbon reduction and look forward to studying the findings of the report in detail.

"We understand that the report brings together the recommendations of six separate reports on carbon reduction previously published by the committee and is based on evidence taken between 2007 and 2009.

"There has of course been significant progress since then, including the publication of our Climate Change Strategy and Emission Reduction Delivery Plan earlier this month."

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