IIDMA considers it essential for the future Committee of Experts on Climate Change to have its own budget to guarantee independence

  • The International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) has submitted amendments to the Draft Royal Decree – who will regulate the operation of the Committee of Experts on Climate Change– whose consultation period ends this Friday, June 3.
  • IIDMA has completed in-depth studies about the role of these types of organizations and has shared its conclusions in two reports.

Madrid, June 2, 2022 – The Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition has just reached its one-year anniversary, but its regulatory development is progressing at a slower pace than expected. Currently and until Friday June 3rd, the consultation period for the Draft Royal Decree regulating the creation, composition, and operation of the Committee of Experts on Climate Change and Energy Transition as found in Article 37 of the law, remains open.

Inspired by similar organizations created some years ago in countries like the United Kingdom, France, and Sweden, this future Committee will hold the role of advising our country’s energy and climate change policy. The European Union also has a European Scientific Advisory Council on Climate Change. They all mirror the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program. Their work was and continues to be, essential to the international community’s response to the climate crisis. However, as the text of the Draft Royal Decree indicates, the Spanish committee will hold status as a “working group” and its work will not influence third parties. Lawyer and Director of IIDMA, Ana Barreira, points out that “the lack of impact implies that this scientific body will be handed a very weakened role.” On the other hand, the Committee will have to submit an annual report to the Congress of Deputies for review. The LCCTE required the Government to give reasons for its position on each report beforehand, “however, this is not reflected in the Draft Royal Decree, and it is essential for the Committee’s reports to have some kind of official response,” adds Ana Barreira.

The International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) considers it a priority for this new organization to be independent with its own budget to carry out tasks. Without these resources, its role will be undoubtedly weakened, and its independence hindered. According to the text submitted for consultation, the Spanish National Research Council will be responsible for the management, technical, and administrative support to the Committee “by means of the corresponding budgetary transfers, in accordance with its availabilities.” It remains to be seen how the resources will be transferred and implemented. Furthermore, the independence of the expert committee must be guaranteed at an early stage during the process of appointing its members. The aforementioned Royal Decree entrusts this appointment to the head of the Minister for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, which calls into question the independent nature of the Committee. In fact, the Spanish National Research Council is only involved in the appointment of its president, not in the rest of the members.

IIDMA has studied at length the role, functions, and other essential elements for this type of committee, and the conclusions have been laid out in two papers. Firstly, the report “The UK Climate Change Committee: A model for Spain?” which analyzes the functioning of other similar European bodies such as the Swedish Climate Policy Council, the French High Council for Climate, and more in depth, the UK Climate Change Committee. In addition, the report titled, “The regional Climate Expert Committees and their contribution to achieving climate neutrality,” examines the regional expert committees on climate change and energy transition in Spain.

Climate and energy action in Autonomous Regions

The last report was presented on May 20th in Valencia during the “First Conference on climate and energy action at a regional level” organized with support from the Valencian Government. During the meeting, which generated great interest due to the participation of 15 specialists from the political, academic, and environmental and energy law fields, IIDMA environmental lawyer, Alba Iranzo, argued that although the creation of these committees should be highly valued, “their translation at the regional level is failing because they lack the mechanisms and economic, material, technical, and human resources necessary to develop their duties and be able to exert real influence on the climate action of the regional government in question.”