ISSN 2330-717X

Spain: Minister Says Climate Change Act To Make It Easier To Meet International Commitments


The Spanish Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environmental Affairs, Isabel García Tejerina, appeared before the Climate Change Study Committee of the Lower House of Parliament to explain the results of the last Climate Summit in Bonn and to report on the progress being made on the future draft Climate Change and Energy Transition bill.

The minister said that this law “will guarantee and make it easier to meet the international commitments already made by Spain, both under the Paris Agreement and under the European climate and energy policies”. In this regard, Isabel García Tejerina stated that the law “must be a people’s law because it will affect our current and future productive and consumption models”, meaning there is “a clear desire from the Government of Spain to engage with all parties”.

An open and participatory process has therefore been launched to draft this law, with numerous milestones in place “to lay the groundwork for this consensus and ensure social participation”. The Climate Change Study Committee of the Lower House of Parliament is playing a large role in this process as it will welcome over 30 experts to give presentations on this draft bill. To date, six committee meetings have been held and 15 presentations made.

A future law with extensive social participation

The minister went on to explain the milestones already established for drawing up the draft bill (setting up an inter-ministerial work group, holding a serious of ambitious debates with over 400 experts working together to identify the content of the law, opening an extensive public consultation process, setting up a committee of experts on energy transition, meetings with political groups, etc.).

“Our assessment of this participatory process is positive. Besides, that which was obtained from the debates, a total of 350 contributions, have been received from all sectors and parts of society, added to which we are preparing a first draft bill based on all those contributions”, she explained.

Positive Climate Summit

As regards the Climate Summit hosted by Bonn, the Spanish minister said that the EU and Spain travelled to the event “with their homework done”. Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced in the EU by 23%, while the GDP was over 50%, added to which Europe is the largest contributor to climate finance (close on 20 billion euros in 2016). Spain contributed 595 million euros of this finance in that year.

Despite being more technical and less political, the Bonn Summit met some important targets for effectively implementing the Paris Agreement. Three of those targets are worth highlighting: progress was made on negotiating the “small print” of the Paris Agreement; an agreement was reached on designing the Talanoa Dialogue (this will by the first political milestone since the Paris Summit, at which countries will evaluate where they are and how to reach the 2ºC target, and debate how to increase the ambition sought by the actions to combat climate change); and, thirdly, tangible results were achieved in the vulnerability agenda containing the priorities for the States and populations most vulnerable to climate change, such as women and indigenous peoples.

Regarding the Spanish delegation, the minister highlighted its active involvement in the negotiations and its work to ensure European positions were constructive and met the Paris mandates. The Spanish minister believes it was important not to reopen aspects of the agreement that have already been closed and maintain the political momentum from previous summits.

“Besides the official negotiations”, added the minister, “Spain undertook a busy agenda in which we offered the international community our experience and commitment in various areas of climate action”. This included presentation of the Ministerial Declaration by the Latin American Network of Climate Change Offices, participation in the launch of the support project by the United Nations Development Programme for the Nationally Determined Contributions, in which Spain was among the first countries to participate with 700,000 euros, and participation in the “4/1000 Initiative” on improving soil for food security and climate, among other events.

2018, a busy year for climate change negotiations

The minister concluded her presentation by saying that 2018 will be a busy year for international climate change negotiations given that “it is the date we set for finalizing the rules governing how the Paris Agreement will work” and it will be marked “by the negotiation of a large number of technical details” so that the Paris Agreement can effectively respond to the challenges posed by the fight against climate change.

“We must guarantee a set of rules that can ensure real reductions by all concerned, with an operational framework that increases the efforts made by countries every five years. These rules need to enable the international community to properly respond to climate change”, she explained.

The Talanoa Dialogue process has also been under way since 1 January. To begin with, work will be undertaken on identifying information and experiences with a view to ending the year with a ministerial discussion aimed at pushing debate on the ambition needed to back the new round of contributions in 2020. “The EU is already preparing itself to lead this dialogue and put the positive results from its climate policy on the international table, as well as the regulatory progress made towards achieving the emissions reduction target of at least 40% in 2030”, added the Spanish minister.

Isabel García Tejerina stressed that the European Union “is a credible partner because it is meeting its targets in the 2020 period and has practically sealed its regulations up to 2030”, and Spain “also enjoys absolute credibility”. In fact, according to the latest report by the European Commission, Spain will surpass its greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020 commitment by over 10 percentage points, a situation that not all European partners are close to reaching.

“The legal framework in this regard is clear and stable, and manages to give the right signal in the medium and long term, which incentivises the actions planned to combat climate change at all levels: governments, private sector and civil society”, added Isabel García Tejerina.

Energy interconnections

Finally, the minister mentioned the recent announcement by the European Commission on the new electricity interconnection between Spain and France, which she described as “yet another example of this government’s commitment to the fight against climate change”.

“Thanks to the hard work on negotiating with the European Union”, she said, “we have ensured an allocation of almost 600 million euros for a new electricity interconnection between Spain and France across the Bay of Biscay; this government has always defended electricity interconnection as a means to meeting energy and climate targets based on the principle of equality with other Member States”, she said.

This new infrastructure will raise the interconnection capacity between the two countries to 5,000 megawatts; in other words, Spain’s interconnection with France will increase from 2.8% to 5% and enable better integration of the Iberian Peninsula into the internal electricity market. “It will therefore be one of the fundamental pieces of the puzzle for developing renewable energy sources and complying with the Paris Agreement”, she concluded.

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