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How Wales is tackling the climate emergency with a framework of targets and carbon budgets.

First published:
23 March 2021
Last updated:

Net zero pathway

In March 2021 Senedd Cymru approved a net zero target for 2050. Net zero means balancing the greenhouse gas emissions with the amount of gases we're removing from the atmosphere.

Wales also has interim targets for 2030 and 2040, and a series of 5-year carbon budgets. The first carbon budget ran from 2016 to 2020. We have to set a carbon budget at least five years before the budgetary period begins. The targets and carbon budgets form Wales’s statutory framework. They include Wales’s share of emissions from international aviation and international shipping.

For each carbon budget, we have to set a limit on how many international offsets Wales can use. A 0% limit means we must achieve the carbon budget by action taken in Wales.

Targets and carbon budgets approved by Senedd Cymru in March 2021
Budget/target Amount
Carbon budget 2 (2021-2025)  Average 37% reduction
Carbon budget 2 offset limit  0%
Carbon budget 3 (2026-2030)   Average 58% reduction
2030 target  63% reduction
2040 target  89% reduction
2050 target   At least 100% reduction (net zero)

We have to consider advice from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) before we set or change a target or carbon budget. We also have to consider a range of reports and other factors, including scientific knowledge about climate change.

We measure targets and carbon budgets against the baseline year established in the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 legislation. This is either 1990 or 1995, depending on the gas.

Meeting the carbon budgets

We must publish a plan for each budgetary period setting out our policies and proposals for meeting the carbon budget. We must publish the plan before the end of the first year of the budgetary period.

Net Zero Wales is the plan for the second carbon budget.

Monitoring progress

Final emissions data is available around 18 months after the end of each year. For example, final 2020 emissions data will be available in summer 2022.

We must publish a statement for each target before the end of the second year after the target date. This means we must publish a statement for the 2020 target before the end of 2022. 

We must publish a statement for each carbon budget before the end of the second year after the budgetary period. This means we must publish a statement for the first carbon budget (2016-2020) before the end of 2022.

Within six months of these statements, the CCC must publish a progress report. Within six months of the CCC’s progress report, we must publish a response to the points raised by the CCC.