Wales’ net zero game changers  

The Wales Centre for Public Policy has highlighted some key areas which could help Wales overturn a deficit in the fight against climate change, as recently highlighted by the UK Climate Change Committee’s most recent progress report to the Senedd.

WCPP has been asked to provide evidence to the NZ2035 Challenge Group to help inform its work.

This first WCPP report presented to the Group – an Overview of Emissions Trends and Pathways – reviews the progress made so far against the Climate Change Committee’s Balanced Pathway, and shines a light on factors affecting that progress, such as the pandemic, conflict in Europe and the cost-of-living crisis.

The report highlights areas where significant change could make the biggest difference in helping Wales to accelerate towards net zero.

In addition, WCPP’s Josh Coles-Riley and Dan Bristow sum up WCPP’s role in providing evidence to the NZ 2035 Challenge Group – and contextualise the challenges that lie ahead, both for the Group and for Wales’ net zero ambitions.

Director of Policy and Practice Dan Bristow said, “The Welsh Government has made it clear that tackling climate change is a key priority, and that efforts to achieve this should support a just transition for the Welsh workforce and communities in line with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

“There are clearly some difficult decisions to be made if Wales is to not only achieve net zero by 2050 but bring that target forward to 2035. For example, there will need to be a frank debate around areas such as land use, livestock farming and safeguarding rural communities; and on preparing the manufacturing and construction sectors for low carbon emissions models.

“We look forward to providing further evidence to support the continued work of the NZ 2035 Challenge Group.”


Having analysed available evidence which pinpoints Wales’ unique situation compared to the rest of UK, the WCPP report demonstrates that some sectors, for example, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transport and energy supply could have a disproportionally higher impact on Wales’ emissions trajectory.

As the report’s executive summary states:

“Wales’ ability to meet existing targets will require deeper and faster cuts in sectors that have proved difficult to decarbonise so far – but swift and decisive action in these areas will have a proportionally higher impact on Wales’ net zero journey.”

It is noted that individual and societal behavioural change will also play a key role in Wales’ ability to advance more quickly.


• Manufacturing. A handful of industrial sites are responsible for most of Wales’ manufacturing and construction emissions. Progress in decarbonising these large sites will make a considerable contribution to reducing sectoral emissions.
• Residential buildings. Around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in Wales come from residential buildings, mainly from the use of gas for heating, hot water and cooking. Could the decarbonisation process be accelerated in key areas of this sector, for example, the phasing-out of gas boiler sales and for the 20% of homes in Wales which are off the gas grid?
• Agriculture. A shift in land use and less reliance on meat and dairy are important factors to consider, while considering the impact on Welsh farming communities (81% of Wales’ agricultural output is livestock, 25% of Welsh farms rely on cattle/sheep with only 2% dedicated to crops and horticulture)
• Transport . Only the pandemic has had a significant effect on the reduction of emissions in this area which had until then been almost unchanged since 1990. The CCC’s balanced pathway envisages a 75% fall in transport emissions by 2035 with a further 25% reduction by 2050, based on a premise of 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030. Electric vehicle sales were at 7% in 2021.
• Energy supply. Investment and efforts are needed to increase take-up of low carbon solutions and phase out high carbon options

CLICK HERE to read the report and papers

The Wales Net Zero 2035 Challenge Group has already launched the first of five challenges ‘How could Wales feed itself by 2035?’ and expects to launch its second challenge ‘How could Wales meet energy needs by 2035 whilst phasing out fossil fuels’ this month. Go to NZ2035 Challenge Group website for more info.