Spain approves ‘milestone’ clean energy climate bill

Spain is aiming to be climate neutral by 2050 at the latest, but Greenpeace says the law does not go far enough.

The legislation outlaws the sale of vehicles that emit carbon dioxide by 2040, and their circulation by 2050 [File: Paul Hanna/Reuters]

Spain’s parliament has approved a clean energy bill aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 in line with European Union targets, while also banning the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040.

As part of Spain’s efforts to meet its carbon emissions target, the legislation outlaws the sale of vehicles that emit carbon dioxide by 2040, and their circulation by 2050.

“For the planet, for our future and for the next generations. From today, Spain has a climate law on which to build a green, sustainable, fair and prosperous future for all,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted after the vote on Thursday.

The overall aim is to implement measures that will enable Spain to meet the EU’s target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The lawmakers of the right-wing populist Vox party voted against the Climate Change and Energy Transition Act, while the representatives of the conservative opposition abstained.

The bill also sets a national 2030 target for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 23 percent compared with 1990 levels.

The EU had set a 2030 target of cutting emissions by 40 percent compared with 1990 but in November, member states agreed to increase this to 55 percent.

The law also limits all new coal, oil and gas extraction projects and requires that by 2030, renewables account for 42 percent of Spain’s total energy consumption, and at least 74 percent of its electricity production.

And it stipulates that within two years, all towns or cities with more than 50,000 residents must have low-emission zones such as those in Madrid and Barcelona.

A local police officer talks to a driver during traffic restrictions to curb rising air pollution in central Madrid, Spain [File: Susana Vera/Reuters]

The ban on most petrol and diesel cars from the centre of the Spanish capital, dubbed “Madrid central”, was recently overturned by the courts.

In a tweet, Spanish Energy and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera called it an “essential law which we must continue to build on”.

However, in an interview with El Pais published on Thursday, she admitted that Spain was behind the times with the law, saying it “should have been put in place 10 years ago”.

Alluding to the opposition’s resistance, she stressed: “The most dangerous thing is not wanting to see reality, ignoring it and simply looking the other way.”

Greenpeace said the law did not go far enough and that its objectives were “inadequate for complying with the (2015) Paris climate accord” under which nations agreed to keep the planet’s temperature within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels.

“The text is a starting point that will need to be reinforced to successfully tackle climate change in a European country that is one of the most vulnerable to its harsh consequences,” it said.

“Only by increasing its emission reduction targets will Spain be able to decisively combat the climate emergency,” it said.

Source: News Agencies