Following Welsh Government’s publication of an update to the Welsh Infrastructure Investment Plan, Monday, 4th November, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has called on the Welsh Government to publish its carbon impact assessments to evidence how they are taking steps to tackle the climate emergency.

The announcement this week of projects funded under the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan contains around £2.5 billion of capital investment in the transport sector with around £1.5 billion or 64% of what the Government plans to spend in this sector being spent on road projects. On the face of it this would seem to suggest the Government are totally ignoring the fact that transport emissions in Wales, a sector over which they have control are continuing to rise rather than decline. 

The 2019 budget process is the first to be undertaken since the Welsh Government declared a climate emergency and the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan is the first indication of how the Government intends to apply the climate emergency to its spending plans. 

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales says: 

 “The Welsh Government are yet to disclose how their spending plans will help to tackle climate change and reverse the decline of nature across all of the whole budget but this week they announced how they intend to invest in major infrastructure which is an important indicator in how committed they are to acting on the climate emergency they declared.  

 We need Welsh Government to urgently demonstrate how they are transparently assessing the carbon impact of their budget decisions, starting with the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan. It’s difficult to see how they are taking carbon impact seriously when 64% of what they plan to spend in transport is spend on roads which we know generally increases emissions. 

 I hope the Government can point to an extensive consideration and assessment of this which will show how their spending plans are reducing carbon emissions overall but I’m yet to see it. 

 “My ten point plan, published in June 2019 suggested how the next budget 2020-2021 can fund climate change through the lens of the Well-being of Future Generations Act which will have multiple benefits to the wider wellbeing of people including the creation of jobs addressing fuel poverty and improving people’s health. 

We cannot wait for another budget round before funding the actions needed to stem climate change.” 

 The Commissioner’s plan calls for:- 

– An investment of £240 million in next budget (2020-21) – greater investment in active travel, public transport and electric vehicle infrastructure. 

  •  £221 million for land use & nature-based solutions – radically increase tree cover over the next two decades – requiring investment of approximately £16 million per annum over the next 10 years. 
  •  Support for the adoption of low carbon agricultural practices and re-thinking land-use practice – £300 million per annum is currently provided to support agriculture and rural development. 
  • £330 for housing & buildings – greater investment in a national housing retrofit programme – focusing initially on homes living in fuel poverty and those in social ownership could cost up to £1 billion. 

 The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales concluded: 

 “It is not enough to declare a climate emergency; the Government must put its money where its mouth is and show how the budget reflects the climate challenges we are facing. That needs to start with a clear articulation of how spending on major projects is in line with decarbonisation targets, especially in transport where carbon emissions in Wales have increased by 5% between 2012- 2017. 

This is not something that can be satisfied by a sound bite but requires brave and transparent decisions from the Government.