Wales scoring sustainable development points but CO2 emissions rising

In the past year Wales has increased its renewable energy production, recycled more household waste and managed water more efficiently according to the latest government figures.

The Welsh government published its 44 sustainable development indicators this week ranging from areas such as health, housing, and education to the environment.

Of them, 19 showed a clear improvement, 21 showed little or no change, one was substandard and three did not have enough data to analyse.

All indicators are reviewed against different baseline years and cover different periods.

The Environment Minister, John Griffiths said: “Today’s figures show that our efforts to improve waste management, increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources and drive up the energy efficiency of Welsh homes are generating real improvements and I am encouraged by our continued and steady improvement in some key areas.

“As always there is room for improvement and more work to do but the indicators give us a clear and useful picture of how we are progressing.”

A separate report released today show that Wales’ local authorities collectively achieved their target – of cutting waste to landfill levels by 50% the amount recorded in 1995 – a year early. 560,262 tonnes of waste was sent to landfill last year, which is a 59% reduction compared with 1995.

Mr Griffiths said: “The figures show that councils are making significant progress in changing the way we deal with our waste. Burying all our rubbish in the ground and leaving it to rot is no longer an option – it uses up our precious land and damages our environment – and so it is essential that we to build on this progress and continue to meet the challenging EU targets right up to 2020.”

In addition, the percentage of electricity generated in Wales from renewable sources has more than doubled since 2002, reaching 5.1% in 2010 according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Energy Trends report.

Figures also showed that water management in Wales is improving. The percentage of resource zones in Wales with target headroom deficits dropped significantly since 2001-02. Target headroom deficits occur when the actual amount of available water supply is less than the sum of the forecast demand and target headroom.

One area that showed little change was carbon emissions which actually rose between 2009 and 2010.

A Welsh Government spokesman however, pointed out that since 1990, total emissions in Wales have fallen by 15% and said that the 2010 emissions figures were a result of cold weather at the beginning of 2010 and an increase in iron and steel production.

Despite this, reductions appear to have flat lined as emissions in 2002 were also lower than in 2010.

“We have made a clear commitment to tackle climate change. The Climate Change Strategy sets out our commitment to reduce emissions by 3% per year from 2011 in policy areas for which we are responsible, and to reduce all emissions by 40% by 2020,” said the spokesman.

“We will continue to focus on full implementation of the Climate Change Strategy towards delivering of our emission reduction targets.”

Conor McGlone

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie