Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 18:12 UK

'Zero waste' Wales plan unveiled

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan made the announcement at the start of the Hay Festival

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has announced plans to make Wales a "zero waste" nation as part of a drive to cut the country's carbon footprint.

He has launched a strategy aimed at putting sustainability at the centre of assembly government policy.

He said all parts of Welsh society had a part to play in fashioning a sustainable future fit for the future.

Opposition AMs said Wales needed "delivery not eco-spin" and called for "action to match the rhetoric".

Wales' ecological footprint - how much of the world's resources people consuming to maintain current lifestyles - is 5.16 global hectares per person, compared to a global availability of 1.88 global hectares.

In other words, people in Wales use resources at a rate which would require 2.7 planets to sustain. This rate is expected to rise to 3.3 planets worth by 2020 if nothing is done.

Cooling towers (generic)
Cut reliance on carbon based energy by 80-90%
70% recycling of municipal waste by 2025
Extend use of ecological footprinting in Wales
A new green jobs strategy
£190m spending on public health
Sustainable development to be a core NHS aim
See Wales recognised as sustainable tourism destination
Source: Welsh Assembly Government

The Welsh assembly is one of only three administrations in the world that has a legal duty to promote sustainable development.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, Mr Morgan unveiled the sustainable development scheme, aimed at ensuring the Welsh Assembly Government uses devolved powers to put sustainability across its policy making.

He said: "We must build sustainability into everything we do. This is not just an issue for the green lobby. It is not just about recycling our cans.

"It is about ensuring Wales can sustain itself with sustainable jobs and a sustainable quality of life.

"The choices we make now on issues like transport or education need to take into account the effect on future generations and their quality of life. There is no room for short-term decisions."

Environment Minister Jane Davidson said: "This is a truly wide-reaching vision for Wales.

"We have committed ourselves to becoming a one planet nation - to use only our fair share of resources to sustain our lifestyles. This will ensure we leave enough resources for future generations. It is also about the types of transport we develop, and the efficiency of energy we use."

Jonathan Porritt, chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, said: "I am extremely pleased that the Welsh assembly government is showing such serious commitment to making Wales a truly sustainable country.

"I am also glad that the Sustainable Development Commission will have a new role in Wales in measuring the progress made by government in becoming more sustainable.

'Oil price'

"If actions match the ambition shown in this document, Wales will set an example for the rest of the world to follow."

Angela Burns AM, the Welsh Tories' environment spokesperson, said: "We share the assembly government's aim of making Wales a more sustainable nation, but what we need is delivery, not more eco-spin masquerading as policy.

"The minister [Jane Davidson] has yet to fulfil her promise to devolve powers to the assembly which will make a real difference to sustainable development.

"Without these there is little prospect of delivery on today's pledges."

Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Kirsty Williams said: "For the past decade we've seen a government that tells us to recycle, or save energy in one breath but subsidises flights or expands the M4 in the next breath.

"This incoherence has to end now, or Wales will be left a deeply unsustainable place, with communities over-exposed to oil price and availability pressures, fractured by economic inequalities and exposed to the significant risks of climate change."

Peter Jones, environmental policy officer for RSPB Cymru, said "regrettably" it felt the document failed to spell out the radical changes needed.

"However, we are pleased with the Welsh Assembly Government's commitment to ensure the conservation of biodiversity will be built into everything it does," he said.

"We are also pleased with its strong commitments to combating and limiting climate change. Although, we do believe larger and more immediate carbon emission reductions are needed if we are to avoid runaway global warming."

In February, plans for a "lean, clean and green" Wales, making it self-sufficient in renewable energy within 20 years were launched by the assembly government.

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