25 Sep The six priorities of the new Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition, according to Environmental Lawyers
The Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Medio Ambiente (IIDMA) states that the creation of the new Ministry for Ecological Transition is crucial to guarantee a sustainable development and an ecological transition for future generations who will have to face the consequences of governmental measures taken today. The organization is confident that the support to fossil fuels will end and believes that climate change policies will be impelled. According to IIDMA, these are the six priorities the new Ministry has to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change:
1) A Climate Change and Energy Transition Law with quantifiable emission reduction targets. Spain still has no Climate Change Law and this Ministry should draft one including a 40% reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 emission levels, with the target to reach a Zero Emissions scenario by 2050. It is urgent to develop the Spanish National Energy and Climate Plan to achieve the 2030 reduction as well as adaptation plans.
2) A decarbonization roadmap and an orderly and progressive closure plan for coal-fired power plants: these plants are the main source of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector, and responsible for climate change. IIDMA challenged the TNP (Transitional National Plan) for large combustion plants of the previous government for contravening EU legislation and Spanish law, as it was not subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment prior to its approval. The TNP includes 21 coal-fired power plants, which are allowed to emit higher amounts of NOx, SO2 and dust thanks to this legal exception. According to the IIDMA report “A Dark Outlook”, coal emissions were responsible for more than 700 premature deaths in 2014 and health costs were between 880 and 1,667 million euros.
In addition, a Law Proposition of the PP’s Parliamentary Group was submitted to the Spanish Congress before the change of Government. If approved, article 53 of Law 24/2013 on the Electricity Sector would be modified, extending the cases in which the closure of an electricity generation facility may be denied. Such a change would be a major obstacle to energy green transition. However, the new government has already stated its desire to be more ambitious as stated in the EU Council of 11 June.
3) The promotion of a “Green Taxation” model: a system based on the “Polluter Pays” principle. establishing climate taxes on the most polluting companies and industries.
4) The creation of a Climate Change Fund to promote the implementation of policies and actions aimed at tackling climate change in different fields, including R&D, adaptation and mitigation policies, and ensuring a just transition. The fund would be financed by climate taxes.
(5) The adoption of measures to tackle pollution by plastics. Plastic pollution has become a major threat, so this new ministry must adopt measures to end single-use plastics. It is also necessary to adopt measures related to design and production, including chemicals used in the manufacture of plastic that are harmful to both health and the environment. Finally, the Ministry must play an active role in promoting negotiations on an international convention to tackle this pollution.
(6) Public participation and environmental justice, consistent with the obligations of the Aarhus Convention to which Spain is a Party. The active dissemination of environmental information by administrations should also be ensured. For an effective implementation of the Spanish Aarhus Law, the Government should also plan to train the judiciary on climate change and facilitate access to justice in environmental matters, including access to legal aid to environmental defense organizations.
“We welcome the creation of the new Ministry for Ecological Transition. This new Ministry merges two departments whose competencies are closely linked. The appointment of Teresa Ribera as Minister, with extensive experience in the sector, opens the door to hope that our country will take the lead in the fight against climate change, with the opportunities that this represents. We therefore hope that it will be able to implement the policies it has supported over the years and promote the energy and ecological transition that is so necessary in our countr” says Ana Barreira, Director of IIDMA.