Spanish Congress has finally given the green light to stand up for climate change and its challenges and has done so through the new Law 7/2021, of May 20, on Climate Change and Energy Transition, the first in its field which came into force on May 22, 2021. Thanks to it, Spain intends to achieve “climate neutrality” before the year 2050 by complying with the established international commitments, addressing the causes and subsequent consequences of global warming.
What improvements will this law bring?
First of all, the objective of this law brings the independence of the entire Spanish economy from the use of fossil fuels. For this, the law proposes two clear strategies, one in the short term for 2030 and the other for 2050. By 2030, greenhouse gas emissions in Spain must have been reduced by at least 23% compared to those levels of 1990. Such percentage will be periodically reviewed and increased. However, 2050 would imply the so-called climate neutrality, which does not mean that greenhouse gas emissions will be zero, but that the amount emitted is equal to or less than the amount absorbed by forests or other carbon sinks.
How to achieve these objectives?
Law 7/2021 provides different measures to be implemented that will bring a complete transformation of society. Some of these are highlighted below:
- Starting in 2040, all new vehicles will be zero-emission. The transport sector has emitted almost 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Spain (2019), which means that vehicles created after 2040 date and, even earlier, will not emit CO2, the main greenhouse gas. It will also be mandatory for gas stations to install charging points for electric cars.
- In these first 6 months of entry into force of the law, the Government will draw up a plan directed towards housing rehabilitation and urban renewal, aiming to achieve energy efficiency and rehabilitation of buildings through the channelling of European funds. For this to take place, incentives must be approved to promote the introduction of renewable energies, as well as the use of resources that have a lower carbon footprint.
- Prohibition of granting authorizations to provide concessions and research of hydrocarbon exploitations.
- Creation of a committee of experts on climate change, who will be in charge of evaluating the measures carried out and its results, proposing improvements that allow progress towards the ecological transition. This body will have full autonomy and will be equal in men and women.
- Creation of a citizen assembly for the climate, betting on the participation and involvement of society. Along the same lines, environmental education will be included in educational curricula, in order to create awareness among the youngest.
- Mandatory low-emission zones in municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants or for those with 20,000 inhabitants but with emissions that exceed the established pollution limits.
- Protection of biodiversity, where the Executive must present a “specific strategy for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and species, especially for those sensitive to the effects of climate change”.
- Large companies, financial institutions and policyholders must set specific decarbonisation objectives and prepare annual reports on their activity, indicating the measures adopted for the sustainable transition.
Spain finally has a law aiming to tackle the climate crisis, which is quite an achievement and entails a transition of a great nature. Undoubtedly, the collaboration and participation of different economic and social agents is essential for its success so, for this to occur, public policies in this area must be at the height of the necessary changes to be made in our economic model in a way that ensures a fair and sustainable transition. Having said this, sustainable economic models as well as the promotion of renewable energies are very present at our firm Lagares Abogados and, for this reason, we will closely follow the news and updates that are developed based on this law.
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