Government sends first Climate Change and Energy Transition Bill to Parliament, seeking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest

In a context of economic reactivation in the current COVID-19 scenario, the new legislation seeks to put Spain in a position to avail of the opportunities afforded by ecological transition in terms of modernising the economy, industrial development, job creation and attracting investment. The Bill will act as a pillar for other policies and measures. It seeks to provide an institutional framework to offer certainty and stability for all public and private actors, as well as to promote climate action. Participation in the drafting of the text has been widespread and the Bill responds to the general demands of society with respect to the climate emergency, as well as the suggestions and submissions made during the drafting process.

On the proposal of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO), the Spanish Cabinet sent the first draft of the Climate Change and Energy Transition Bill (PLCCTE) to the Spanish Parliament on Tuesday, May 19. This marks the start of the parliamentary process for the first legislation drawn up to enable Spain to achieve net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, in line with scientific criteria and public demand.

In view of the climate emergency, the Bill establishes a 2030 national greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 20% with respect to 1990 levels. This target underlines the increased ambitions of Spain in a key year for the climate agenda and the Paris Agreement. In doing so, Spain is aligning itself with the more ambitious targets set by the European Union (EU) for that year and is responding to the Paris Agreement, which establishes that countries must be more ambitious in terms of emissions reductions by 2020. In this way, Spain is contributing to the European goal of continuing to promote, as it has done since 1990, the necessary joint action by all countries to advance with the greatest possible haste in the global transition to a carbon-neutral economy, through the multilateral framework offered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The ultimate objective of the legislation is for Spain to achieve net-zero emissions “by 2050 at the latest”, meaning that by the middle of the century, the country will only emit the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) that can be absorbed by its carbon sinks. The legislation establishes that Spain must achieve compliance with the Paris Agreement on this point, which obliges states to be carbon-neutral in the second half of the century. It also reinforces Spain’s commitment to the EU, which has also set the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The Bill also responds to the demands of the Spanish Parliament, which, in a motion passed by an absolute majority last year, urged the Government to activate transversal policies in all its actions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The bill articulates the country’s transversal response to the challenge of climate change, to which Spain is particularly vulnerable. This response is based on principles of sustainable development, social justice, resilience, precaution, sustaining the progress already made, protection and promotion of public health, improvement of the competitiveness of productive sectors and cooperation amongst public authorities.

In a context of economic reactivation in the current COVID-19 scenario, the draft Bill provides the appropriate incentives to enable full advantage to be taken of all opportunities in terms of modernising the economy, industrial development, job creation, and attracting investment. This paves the way for the transition to inclusive and environmentally friendly prosperity. It does so in line with the European Green Deal, which will be one of the pillars of the recovery framework currently being drawn up by the European Commission.

The Bill seeks to facilitate a carbon-neutral Spanish economy by the middle of the century and represents the first time that the need to adopt public policies to adapt to climate change has been reflected in a legislative text. The overall aim is to promote the implementation of a sustainable development model that generates decent employment, sets out instruments to attend to the needs of vulnerable groups, encourages healthy cities and towns with an enhanced quality of life, fosters rural development and protects biodiversity.

The PLCCTE incorporates all economic sectors into climate action, from energy generation and finance to primary sectors, including transport, industry and public authorities. The joint and transversal contribution of these sectors over the coming decades will be decisive in achieving the goal of climate neutrality and facilitating adaptation to the new industrial revolution associated with the low-carbon economy, a revolution which has already begun.