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One more step towards a European Climate Law

One more step towards a European Climate Law, with the support of Spain

Spain supports further progress in the processing of the European Climate Law at a time when it is urgent to take decisions that will allow a comprehensive response to the climate and environmental emergency and the health and economic crisis. This was the position adopted by Spain at the Council of Environment Ministers held last week in Luxembourg, which was attended by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán, and the Director General of the Spanish Office for Climate Change, Valvanera Ulargui.

The text approved by the European ministers establishes a solvent and secure architecture to activate and catalyse European efforts to combat climate change and represents an opportunity for the European Union to emerge from the current pandemic in a strengthened manner. This framework will also be key to the Union’s credibility and to having clarity and certainty when it comes to achieving climate neutrality in 2050, as it will allow progress to be reviewed and efforts to be updated over time, thus ensuring progress towards climate neutrality in the EU in 2050. This is what science is asking for, and what civil society, cities and regions, and a large part of the private and financial sectors are demanding.

However, Spain would have liked the text to have been more ambitious, which is why, together with Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Austria, a joint declaration has been presented to strengthen the Presidency’s text and to ensure that all Member States contribute at national level to the collective European objective of climate neutrality in 2050.


Throughout the process, Spain has defended the importance of guaranteeing the ambition in the European Climate Act. The Spanish position is that this law should already include a target for reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030, the need for all Member States to move towards climate neutrality by 2050 and the importance of adaptation by putting it on a par with mitigation, a fundamental area for Spain given its special vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

Spain has already committed to climate neutrality by 2050 and we already have the tools to be able to meet this commitment. The National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC), which sets out the roadmap for the next decade, goes beyond the objectives set by the European Union for Spain with a target of reducing Spain’s greenhouse gas emissions by -23% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, 42% renewables in final energy use, a 39.5% improvement in energy efficiency and 74% renewable energy in electricity generation. In other words, Spain has already established a compatible path to achieve emissions neutrality. It is estimated that meeting these objectives will be accompanied by an increase in GDP of 1.8% and employment of 1.7% by 2030.

The agreement at the Environment Council is a necessary step towards the adoption by the December European Council of the objective of at least 55%. This target not only meets the demands of science and is necessary to put the European Union on the path to climate neutrality by the middle of the century but will be accompanied by significant opportunities in terms of economic growth and job creation, cost reduction, modernization of the industrial sector and improvement of the environment.

The new target to 2030 should be communicated to the United Nations before the end of the year, as part of a new and more ambitious European Union National Contribution (NDC), as set out in the Paris Agreement. This new European NDC will serve as a roadmap for launching a green, blue and solidarity-based recovery in Europe. It is an opportunity that will allow, with the appropriate use of resources, to bring forward targets and timetables and thus advance climate action to avoid higher costs and without leaving anyone behind.


The Climate Act establishes and defines the objective of climate neutrality in the EU by 2050 and provides a framework for advancing efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, whereby all Member States must implement adaptation strategies and plans.

It also includes the new objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2030, the main aspect of which is open and under discussion and which must be resolved at the December European Council. It also establishes that the EU’s next emission reduction target will be for 2040.

The Act also sets up a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating progress by the Commission, which will have to assess, at both European and national level, every five years, progress towards the climate neutrality and adaptation objective and the coherence of European and Member State policies with these objectives.

To carry out this evaluation exercise, the Act establishes that the Commission must be based on an indicative linear trajectory that sets out the path for reducing emissions from the emissions reduction target in 2030 established in the text to climate neutrality in 2050.

It also includes a review clause, whereby the functioning of this regulation must be reviewed every five years, opening the door for the Commission to make proposals if necessary.


Spain has also supported the conservation objectives of the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, recognising that this is one of the key initiatives of the European Green Pact and, as such, should also be a fundamental element of the EU’s recovery plan.

The draft Council Conclusions on the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, adopted by the European Commission in May this year, endorse the objectives set out in the Strategy and call for their urgent integration into all other national and EU policy areas, in line with the position defended by Spain. “We are absolutely convinced of the urgency of taking decisive and immediate action in the face of the global crisis of biodiversity loss”, stressed Hugo Morán. “At a time when we are discussing how we want to reactivate our economy, how we want to rebuild Spain, recovery means not turning our backs on nature. We have learned that we can no longer grow as we did in the past, that recovery is green or it will not be possible”.

The new Biodiversity Strategy addresses the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable land and sea use, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution and invasive alien species, and aims to integrate biodiversity considerations into the EU’s overall economic growth strategy.

It also sets out concrete measures to address the regeneration of Europe’s biodiversity by 2030, including transforming at least 30% of Europe’s land and sea into effectively managed protected areas, strictly protecting at least one-third of these areas and restoring a minimum of 10% of agricultural land to a wide variety of landscape features.


Spain supports these objectives and the need for greater ambition in nature restoration, beyond protected areas and in accordance with the proposal of the new EU Nature Restoration Plan. In this sense, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge is finalising the National Strategy for Green Infrastructure and Ecological Connectivity and Restoration, which focuses on both the conservation and restoration of ecosystems.

Our country also supports the urgency of strengthening action against invasive alien species and the need to advance pollinator conservation. Not surprisingly, Spain was the first European country to transpose the European Union Action Plan against trafficking in wild species into the national context and has just approved its National Strategy for the Conservation of Pollinators.

With regard to the global agenda on biodiversity, Spain shares the EU’s commitment to leading the process of agreeing a new, transformative and ambitious global biodiversity framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021.


The European Commission also presented the Chemicals for Sustainability Strategy, adopted on 14 October last to effectively reduce exposure of humans and the environment to hazardous chemicals. Spain, which belongs to the so-called REACH UP group formed by a dozen countries that demand an ambitious chemicals strategy for a toxic-free environment and at the same time improve the competitiveness and innovation of European industry, has contributed to the process of preparing this document. In this sense, our country welcomes the Strategy but has insisted that the next steps must be directed towards promoting appropriate legislative developments, which must be proposed by the Commission, and providing it with the means and resources, in particular with regard to innovation to make progress in substitutes for risk substances.


Among other issues, the Dutch delegation reported on the Summit on Adaptation to Climate Change that it is preparing and that will take place on 25 January 2021. This summit aims to agree on an adaptation action agenda with a roadmap for the decade of transformation towards a climate-resilient future. This is a relevant agenda for our country as shown by the recent approval of the Second National Plan of Adaptation to Climate Change (PNACC).

The Netherlands has also reported on a high-level meeting of the World Forum on the Circular Economy to be held on 15 April 2021. This is the second in a series of three World Forum on the Circular Economy events (the first on 29-30 September and the third in Canada in September 2021). The intention is to bring together public and private sector decision-makers from around the world to address the links between the circular economy, climate and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDAs) more broadly.


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