Science is essential in decisions to address climate change: Spain still does not have a scientific advisory committee

  • The International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) organized an event this Friday at the Congress of Deputies to foster dialogue between science and politics in setting climate targets for 2040.  
  • The meeting was attended by the member of the European Scientific Advisory Council on Climate Change France Jean-Françoise Soussana, the director of the Spanish Climate Change Office, Valvanera Ulargui, the president of the Danish Council for Climate Change, Peter Møllgaard, the head of Unit in the General Directorate of Climate Action of the European Commission, Vicky Pollard, the director of the Institute of Physics of Cantabria, José Manuel Gutiérrez, and the director of the International Institute of Law and Environment (IIDMA), Ana Barreira, among others. 

The ‘European Climate Law,’ approved in 2021, invites each Member State to create a national advisory body on climate matters, tasked with providing specialized scientific advice on climate policy to the competent national authorities. In Spain, Law 7/2021 of May 20 establishes the creation of a Committee of Experts on Climate Change and Energy Transition in Article 37. However, three years after the regulation came into effect, its composition, organization, and functioning have still not been regulated. 

These types of organizations – which are constituted as collegiate and consultative bodies of scientific advice on climate change matters, both with regard to mitigation and adaptation – are essential to direct political action to protect the climate system. To promote its creation in Spain, the International Institute of Law and Environment (IIDMA), in collaboration with the Commission on Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, has organized the conference ‘The EU climate objective for 2040: The role of science and the response at the political level’ that took place this Friday in the Ernest Lluch room of the Congress of Deputies.   

The event was attended by top-level experts such as the president of the Danish Council for Climate Change, Peter Møllgaard ; the member of the High Council for Climate of France and the European Scientific Advisory Council on Climate Change (CCEACC), Jean-Françoise Soussana; or the director of the Institute of Physics of Cantabria (IFCA) and coordinator of the Climate Platform of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), José Manuel Gutiérrez. The three have conveyed to the audience the importance of offering the world a clear scientific vision of the current state of knowledge on climate change and its possible environmental and socioeconomic repercussions.   

The director of the International Institute of Law and Environment (IIDMA), Ana Barreira, explained that her organization has studied in depth the role of this type of organization, having expressed the conclusions in two works: ‘The United Kingdom Climate Change Committee : A model for Spain?’ and ‘The regional Climate Change Expert Committees and their contribution to achieving climate neutrality’. Based on these analyses, Barreira has recommended that “the committees that are established must be provided with their own budget to guarantee their independence, in addition to being transparent in their activity.”  

The director of the Spanish Climate Change Office, Valvanera Ulargui, assured during her speech that “it is time to ‘put more responsible and fair climate action on the table’.” 

Set the climate agenda for 2040 

The ‘European Climate Law’ aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and, to achieve this, established the obligation to set intermediate climate objectives for 2030 and 2040. The objectives for 2030 (55% reduction of EU emissions) are on the right path, according to the European Commission’s evaluation of the draft revisions of the National Energy and Climate Plans of the Member States as of December 2023.  

Regarding the 2040 objective, the Commission has already started working on it, having presented a proposal to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040. In this sense, —in a second panel moderated by the researcher principal of the Elcano Royal Institute, Lara Lázaro – the head of Unit in the General Directorate of Climate Action of the European Commission, Vicky Pollard, has explained that the Commission has had the advice of the European Scientific Advisory Council on Climate Change. This Council issued a report in June 2023 providing EU institutions with a science-based estimate of a 2040 climate target.  

Given the European elections on June 9, the director of the IIDMA has stressed that “it is necessary to maintain dialogue so that both the future new European Commission and the future European Parliament continue working to establish this objective and pave the path to achieve it.” “New regulatory instruments will have to be adopted while bringing this process closer to the national institutions of the Member States to establish solid bases that facilitate the acceptance of scientific knowledge to guide political action,” added Barreira.   

The head of the South African Presidential Climate Commission, Dhesigen Naidoo, also participated in the conference offering a brief overview of the measures being taken in South Africa to comply with the national climate commitments established in the Paris Agreement.  
The president of the Commission for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge of the Congress of Deputies, Cristina Narbona, was in charge of closing the day.