Congress approved today the first law to combat climate change, which must now complete its processing in the Senate. This is the standard with which Spain aspires to comply with the Paris Agreements, which establish that in 2050 the release of new greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, led by CO2 (carbon dioxide), must be zero. It will do so by reducing emissions, the end of means of transport and machinery that burn fossil fuels (the main source of CO2), clean energy, and the generalization of energy efficiency.
The prize, if achieved, will be to stop the increase in the Earth’s temperature by 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, which would minimize the effects of global warming and avoid the enormous natural catastrophes and famines that we are now heading towards, according to the scientists.
The rule, which could come into force in a few weeks, was approved by a very large majority of Congress (PSOE, Unidas Podemos, ERC, PNV, Ciudadanos, EH Bildu and Teruel Existe), the equivalent of about 190 votes, and had the ‘no’ of Vox and the abstention of PP and More Country. While the government parties spoke of a “historic day”, the popular predicted that the law “will close industries, generate unemployment and punish rural Spain” and the far right denied the “climate emergency” and indicated that “the social-communist coalition” “wants to lead us to disaster.” The Socialists compared the PP with the dog in the manger, which “neither does nor lets do.”
The Government is committed to increasing the CO2 emission reduction target for 2030 by two years, which is set at 23% in the standard compared to 1990
The law sets targets for “climate neutrality” for 2050 – that no more CO2 is emitted than are able to capture forests and lagoons naturally – and that 100% of electricity comes from renewable sources. But it is not worth doing it in any way. It is essential that a large part of the emission reduction is achieved by 2030, because, if not, scientists fear that the phenomenon will be irreversible.
The project approved by Congress foresees that within nine years, Spain will have reduced its CO2 emissions by 23% compared to the world reference year (1990), by which time 42% of energy will have already been achieved consumed – including transport and industry – come from renewables, and energy efficiency will have been increased by 39.5%. In addition, an amendment was introduced today, pushed by More Country, with which the Government undertakes to revise these cut-off targets for 2030 “upwards” in just two years, in 2023.
Is it enough for Spain to cut 23% by 2030? For the Government, yes, for environmentalists, no. They are both partly right. The Executive because with its cut -which will go up in 2023- it will make a reduction effort similar to that requested by the EU and environmentalists because it is going to fall a little behind what the UN demands. Spain would reduce CO2 emissions by 38% in 2030 compared to 2010 compared to the 45% average required by experts to avoid exceeding 1.5 degrees (it would be seven points below). However, if the EU meets its targets, it would reduce emissions by over 48% (three points higher).
The end of hydrocarbons
Among the main measures to achieve these objectives, in addition to the generalization of renewable energies, are the end in 2040 of the sales of new passenger cars that burn fossil fuels and their withdrawal from circulation in 2050; the introduction of low emission zones in all cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants by 2023; and the promotion of electric mobility, public transport and recharging points at gas stations and homes.
The law will mean the end of the extraction of hydrocarbons and coal and the prohibition of ‘fracking’. With its entry into force, no new exploitation of fossil fuels will be authorized, but neither of uranium, the food of nuclear power plants, which are on the way to closure.
The standard foresees the use of materials with a low carbon footprint for construction and the incentive for the rehabilitation of homes, focused on energy saving, self-consumption and the use of renewables. The regulation will not allow building on the coasts with incidents of climate change and the installation of wind and solar parks must be “compatible with the conservation of natural heritage.”
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