First published: 29/06/2023 -

Last updated: 21/03/2024 -

Verified by our Editorial Panel

Carbon emissions

Our way of living has an impact on the planet. Driving to the office or school, heating or cooling our homes and buying new energy intensive products creates carbon emissions. These are harmful as, when they are released into the atmosphere, they trap heat and make our planet warmer. In other words, they cause climate change.

What can we do?

Everyone – the Welsh Government, big and small businesses, industries such as agriculture and energy, and us – needs to work together to significantly reduce carbon emissions.  

To reduce our carbon emissions, we need to take action now, to make green choices to protect the environment and ourselves. These include: 

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Using energy more efficiently

Reducing our energy use won’t only help us save money but will also reduce our carbon emissions. You can start with simple actions like washing at 30 degrees, reducing your boiler flow temperature or making bigger investments if you can, like switching to energy efficient appliances and using renewable energy sources such as heat pumps.

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Making your journeys greener

Transport is the third largest carbon emitting sector in Wales – meaning we all need to choose more active and lower carbon ways to get around where possible. When possible, why not use public transport more often and drive less? Try walking to school, share car journeys with your colleagues or, if you’re able to, invest in an e-bike or electric vehicle to lower your impact on the environment.

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Making green daily choices

Buy only what you need and shop sustainably to support local businesses and save money. To lower your impact on the environment, make sure you reuse, repair and recycle more, save water and waste less – as the production of everyday products is responsible for 45% of global emissions

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Making sustainable food choices

Food waste contributes 8-10% of all carbon emissions, but we can reduce this by buying only the food we need, storing it correctly, using up any leftovers and composting. Choosing local produce and eating a balanced diet can also reduce harmful carbon emissions from transporting and producing food.

Why take action?

In 2019, Wales contributed 7.8% of total UK emissions and 12.5% of UK electricity and heat generation emissions. The impacts of these include: 

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Climate change

Carbon emissions are the main cause of climate change; when harmful emissions like carbon dioxide and methane accumulate in the atmosphere, they trap the sun’s heat and warm the average global temperature which causes extreme weather. 

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Air pollution and respiratory diseases

Carbon emissions from buildings, home heating and cooling, power generation, agriculture and industry pollute the air. This can be harmful to our health and cause problems such as respiratory issues.

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Society and economy

Climate change can lead to extreme weather events, like droughts and heatwaves, floods and hurricanes, which can damage our homes, infrastructure and food production. This will affect our economy, health, access to clean water and cause food shortages in the future. 

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Biodiversity loss

The climate and nature emergencies are inextricably linked. One cannot be solved without the other. Human activity is causing direct negative impacts on our land, air, water, soil and wildlife, which contribute towards biodiversity loss and climate change.

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Fairness and equality

The climate emergency affects us all, but it doesn’t affect us equally. If we don’t engage in climate action, the inequality gap will grow further. However, we must also make sure that any steps we take are fair to everyone, and do not create further inequality. For example, not everyone across the Welsh population creates carbon emissions equally. Those in society who have more tend to produce more carbon emissions. Meanwhile, the poorer and more vulnerable – who typically produce less – are already suffering disproportionately from climate-related health conditions.

What is Wales doing?

The Welsh Government is taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Plans in place include: 

  • Net Zero Wales 

    The Welsh Government has set a plan to become a net zero nation by 2050. This means that any carbon emissions we produce will be balanced by carbon reduction and absorption, such as through natural methods like trees and peatlands, so that they do not cause harm to the environment.  

    To achieve this goal, Wales will make sure air quality, reducing carbon emissions, protecting animals and wildlife and looking after our natural resources are a priority.   

  • Leading by example 

    The Welsh Government has published a plan to achieve net zero as an organisation by 2030. As well as this, the Welsh public sector within Wales has an ambition of being collectively net zero by 2030 and radically reducing emissions from over 780 public organisations to transform their relationship with nature.  

  • Pledge Campaign 

    The Pledge Campaign has received over 139 Pledges and counting with businesses, the public sector, communities and school pupils working together for a greener and fairer future for Wales.   

  • Investing in innovation  

    The Welsh Government has published a strategy outlining how innovation will be used to improve the lives of people in Wales.  

  • Creating green skills and career opportunities 

    The Welsh Government's net zero skills action plan sets out what the Welsh Government is doing to support the skills needed as we move towards our net zero future.  

More information 

  • Climate Action Wales – public engagement strategy - This strategy provides guiding principles and a framework for the Welsh Government and its partners to work together to help make green choices easier, more convenient and more affordable for everyone in Wales.

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