• Spain goes from declaring climate emergency to plotting green recovery

    After a 2019 defined by political instability and Spaniards being called to vote in two general elections, 2020 began with optimism. The newly formed left-wing government pushed a vigorous environmental agenda including a declaration of a climate and environmental emergency in January. Through this declaration the government promised to adopt 30 priority actions in the following 100 days, the keystone measure being to approve the Climate Change and Energy Transition Bill so it could begin its parliamentary procedure; not an easy task owing to its lack of absolute majority in the parliament. Then Covid-19 hit.

    Not surprisingly the government’s green agenda, like other matters, was put on hold following the declaration of a state of emergency in March. Following Covid’s devastating impact on people and the economy, the government, under heavy pressure by NGOs including T&E, quickly came to understand that only a green recovery would allow for a just transition to a clean, resilient and sustainable economy. In April, Teresa Ribera, in her new position of government vice-president and as the minister responsible for climate and environmental issues, signed up to the European Alliance for a Green Recovery

    An important part of the Spanish green recovery came in the form of vehicle subsidies and taxation.Despite resistance from industry and some parts of Spanish politics the aid package for the automotive sector pushed the industry in a greener direction. Subsequently, more public money was steered towards e-mobility and much less into purchase subsidies for internal combustion  engine cars. Counter-lobbying efforts led to the introduction of less permissive CO2 emission ceilings than those claimed by industry, and to basing the registration tax of vehicles on a new global testing procedure, the WLTP.

    There was also progress on the legislative side.T&E’s proposal to make compulsory the deployment of low-emission zones in cities of more than 50,000 inhabitants, is currently under discussion and could become law as part of the Spanish Climate Change and Energy Transition Bill.

    The government’s success in passing a new 2021 state budget with a broad parliamentary majority means they can continue the path they set out at the beginning of the year, now with a commitment to a green recovery. Importantly the confirmation will enable them to take advantage of green recovery funds. 

    However, in order to achieve the ambitious objectives set out in the energy and climate plan (NEPC) it submitted to the European Commission – including to reach five million electric vehicles by 2030 – Spain must move faster. T&E will continue to work in 2021 to ensure that both the climate legislation the Spanish government is preparing and Spain’s recovery plan are truly consistent with the objectives of the NEPC.