Spain

   

Environmental Policies

#13
Key Findings
Reversing a comparatively unambitious trend, Spain falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 13) with regard to environmental policy. Its score on this measure has improved by 1.6 points since 2014.

A new Strategic Energy and Climate Framework has clarified the county’s climate-change strategy. The plan aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Emissions are to be reduced by between 20% and 21% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, with the share of renewables in total energy consumed boosted to 42%. A total of 74% of electricity is to be generated by renewables.

The country’s largest energy company will close all coal-fired plants by June 2020, and is planning to build Europe’s largest solar-power plant in Spain. However, air quality remains a significant problem in the larger cities, with the European Commission threatening disciplinary action if tougher measures are not imposed.

The country is committed to existing multilateral environmental regimes, and hosted the COP 25 event in 2019 after it was moved from Chile. The state’s record on the protection of natural resources and biodiversity is mixed.

Environment

#14

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
7
In recent years, Spain’s policies regarding sustainability, protection of its exceptionally diverse natural habitats or general environmental quality have been ineffective and/or have lacked ambition. However, in February 2019, the Council of Ministers presented the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework, which includes:

a) The National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021 – 2030, which aligns with an EU goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and current rules for sharing out.
b) The Draft Bill on Climate Change and Energy Transition, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
c) An accompanying strategy of support and just transition, which will ensure that individuals and regions make the most of the opportunities created by this transition.

Combined together, these different elements introduce a more solid and strategic framework for the decarbonization of Spain’s economy.

According to the Framework Plan, which is expected to mobilize €235 billion in investment between 2021 and 2030, Spain aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by between 20% and 21% compared to 1990 levels, and will increase the proportion of renewable energies within total energy consumed to 42%. As regards electricity generation, the percentage of renewables will stand at 74%. The Framework Plan was submitted in February 2019 to the European Commission for evaluation. Although the International Institute of Law and the Environment considered the Framework Plan a step in the right direction, the institute also stated that more concrete measures and more ambitious objectives are necessary.

So far, a number of private sector participants have announced concrete measures. Iberdrola, the country’s largest energy company, is set to close all its coal-fired power plants by June 2020. In 2019, Iberdrola also laid out a plan to build Europe’s largest solar power plant in Spain.

Despite this progress, air quality remains a big problem in Spain’s larger cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona. Though local governments in Madrid and Barcelona have approved measures to reduce pollution, Madrid and the metropolitan area of Barcelona continue to exceed the limits on nitrogen dioxide. In 2019, the European Commission warned Spain that it may face disciplinary action if it does not introduce tougher measures to reduce air pollution. Finally, regarding the protection of natural resources and biodiversity, the country has a mixed record.

Citations:
July 2019, El Pais: “Brussels calls on Madrid, Barcelona to do more to combat air pollution”- https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/07/11/inenglish/1562829294_423030.html

September 2019, El Pais:, “Madrid Central considered one of the most effective anti-pollution plans in the EU”
https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/09/11/inenglish/1568214176_656688.html

July 2019, Catalan News, Colau’s new plans for Barcelona to tackle the climate crisis
https://www.catalannews.com/society-science/item/colau-s-new-plans-for-barcelona-to-tackle-the-climate-crisis-2

Global Environmental Protection

#13

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
7
Spain is committed to existing multilateral environmental protection regimes (including the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals). During the period under review, the Spanish government supported the efforts of the COP 24 climate summit, and reinforced its intention to preserve the global environment, including through the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda with horizontal competences across the entire public administration.

The Spanish government also supported several foreign projects (such as the construction of wind farms in developing countries and the establishment of the Ibero-American Network of Climate Change Offices, in conjunction with Latin American countries), as well as emissions-trading projects aimed at helping the country comply with its pledges to reduce national CO2 emissions. More importantly in terms of international initiatives, Spain joined the Carbon Neutrality Coalition. The members of the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, which include Canada, Denmark and the United Kingdom, have vowed to reach a state of carbon neutrality by 2050. In the fight against forest fires, Spain is now a global reference country in the prevention and extinction. It has announced a more ambitious national determined commitment (NDC) for lowering emissions and has strongly supported European Union’s Green New Deal. Spain also belongs to the Finance Ministers’ Coalition for climate action, and signed the Helsinki Principles to share best practices and introduce environmental taxation reform.

At the end of the period under review, the government of Pedro Sánchez sent a strong signal of its active commitment to contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regime. At the end of October 2019, Chile announced that it could not host the COP 25 event because of violent anti-government protests in the capital of Santiago. With barely a month before the conference was expected to be held, Spain stepped in and agreed to host the event in Madrid, a considerable task that the German government had said “would not have been logistically possible” at the UNFCCC’s headquarters in Bonn, where the COP was held in 2017. Nevertheless, Chile retained the presidency, with the event rebranded as “COP 25 Chile Madrid.”

Citations:
Climatechangenews.com, (2018), 19 countries team up to go carbon neutral, http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/09/28/19-countries-team-go-carbon-neutral/
November (2017), “Progress toward Europe’s climate and energy targets”
https://www.eea.europa.eu/ themes/climate/trends-and-projections-in-europe/trends-and-projections -in-europe-2017/index

November 2019, El Pais, Spain to host UN climate summit, https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/11/01/inenglish/1572600094_630306.html

https://www.carbonbrief.org/cop25-key-outcomes-agreed-at-the-un-climate-talks-in-madrid
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