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Heat is on to tackle Climate Change

18 August 2022
  • Five weeks since we hit record-breaking temperatures in Wales and the heat is still on to tackle climate change.

    Data from the Met Office [opens in new window] shows sea levels are rising much faster than a century ago, and the report we published last week shows quicker action is needed to cut carbon emissions in the Welsh public sector.

    Our report is the second from our decarbonisation baseline review, in which we give the Welsh Government credit for showing leadership in decarbonisation. It has set a stretching collective ambition to achieve a net zero public sector by 2030, established a new Ministerial portfolio and published a route map for public bodies to follow.

    But we also call for greater clarity about the ambitions for public sector decarbonisation. At the same time as working towards net zero by 2030, the NHS in Wales has set itself a less stretching target of a 34% reduction by 2030. The health sector accounts for around a third of the public sector carbon emissions in Wales {as set out in Public Sector Net Zero data and recommendations [opens a new window], health boards and trusts produced 1,134,000 tonnes of CO2 against a total of 3,279,000 tonnes produced by the public sector as a whole in 2020-21}, so if the NHS was to achieve only a 34% reduction, it would make it significantly more difficult to achieve an overall net zero position across the public sector.

    We hope our work will help public bodies increase the pace of change by making 5 calls for action:

    • Strengthen your leadership and demonstrate your collective responsibility through effective collaboration
    • Clarify your strategic direction and increase your pace of implementation
    • Get to grips with the finances you need
    • Know your skills gaps and increase your capacity
    • Improve data quality and monitoring to support your decision making

    We have committed to a long-term programme of work on climate change and we are now thinking about possible areas of focus for the next few years. Some of the options include a review of adaptation (exploring public sector readiness for the impacts of climate change), a deep dive into public sector spending on climate change action, or a review of the accuracy of climate change emissions data.

    If you have any views on the pros and cons of these ideas, or if you have other ideas for future audit work, please get in touch at

    About the author

    Steve Lisle is the audit manager for our work on climate change and has worked for Audit Wales since 2005. He is a keen cyclist, triathlete and former journalist.