Greenhouse gas emissions fell in Wales between 2010 and 2011 but still have some way to go to meet the Welsh Government’s 2020 target.
The latest estimates of greenhouse gas emissions statistics for the devolved administrations have recently been published, including the latest results for 2011. Greenhouse gas emissions are emissions of six gases; carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. These can be measured in two ways, the production and end-user approaches.
- The production approach calculates emissions according to where emissions are produced. This is relatively easy to calculate and allocate to national accounts, however, it does not account for products that are made elsewhere and imported.
- The end-user approach calculates emissions according to where the product of those emissions is consumed. This accounts for all the emissions associated with the consumption of energy, rather than those associated with the geographical location of where energy production takes place. Non-energy production emissions are still counted at the place of production.
The majority of Welsh and UK Government greenhouse gas emissions targets are measured using the production approach.
- Using this measure, greenhouse gas emissions in Wales in 2011 were 43.8 Mega tonnes (Mt), which is 20.6% lower than in the base year.
- Greenhouse gas emissions in Wales fell by 2.5 Mt between 2010 and 2011, a decrease of 5 per cent. The Welsh Government thinks that this was largely due to a decrease in residential emissions in 2011 following the cold winters at the start and end of 2010.
- Scotland and England have had larger percentage reductions in emissions than Wales since the base year, while Northern Ireland’s reductions were lower.
To reach the Welsh Government’s 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent below the base year, emissions in Wales will need to be reduced by a further 19.4 percentage points over the next nine years. The trend of greenhouse gas emissions in Wales since the base year is set out below in figure 1.
Figure 1: Trends in total net greenhouse gas emissions against Welsh Government 2020 target from 1990 to 2011, (against base year) Wales
Source: AEA, Greenhouse Gas Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: 1990-2011, June 2013
The energy supply sector is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions in Wales, producing 36 per cent of all Welsh emissions in 2011. The main sources of emissions in the energy sector in 2011 were in electricity production at power stations and refinery emissions. Wales is a net exporter of electricity to England.
Wales therefore has end-user lower emissions than emissions measured using the production approach. In 2011, end-user greenhouse gas emissions in Wales were 38.1 Mt, which is a decrease of 30.3% since 1990.
Information on performance in 2011 against the Welsh Government’s target that greenhouse gas emissions within devolved competence should reduce by at least 3 per cent per year compared to the 2006-10 baseline is due to be published in autumn 2013.
Further information can be found in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions research note published by the Research Service.
Article by Gareth Thomas, National Assembly for Wales Research Service.