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Spain’s climate plan, the best in the whole of the European Union

The European Climate Foundation (ECF) has taken note of the draft national integrated energy and climate plans (PNIEC) submitted by the 28 EU member states. In fact, it is the only State that approves. But neither the Spanish plan nor that of any other EU country is on the right track to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.


The European Climate Foundation asked a team of experts from the Ecologic Instituye and Climact to evaluate draft integrated national climate and energy plans (PNIEC), which Member States were required to submit to the European Commission last year. Spain prepared it in June, after the arrival of Pedro Sánchez’s government in power, and submitted it sesis months later, two months late. However, it seems that the acceleration was not bad for the Spanish plan as it was the only one of the 28 that has approved, but just 52 points out of 100 with respect to a series of indicators determined by the experts of the two rating agencies:

– The level of ambition,

– The level of detail of the policies and measures described, and

– The quality and inclusiveness of the writing process.

In general, the plans presented have been disappointing. On a scale ranging from A, best possible, to E, worst, only four countries are at an acceptable level, that of C: Spain and France, leading the ranking with 52% and 47% respectively, followed by Greece (44%) and Sweden (43%). Slovenia’s climate plan ranks last with a score of 3%, with Slovakia (12%) and Germany (12%) slightly ahead.

The conclusion drawn by experts from the Ecologic Instituye and Climact s that while countries are taking steps to act on climate by 2030, they still do not live up to the ambitions set by EU legislators and the Paris Agreement.

Regarding the Spanish plan, Lara Lázaro, Principal Investigator of the Real Instituto Elcano, states: “Spain’s PNIEC should be praised as an all-encompassing roadmap towards decarbonisation, developed in less than a year with considerable effort on the part of both governmental and external modelling teams”. But he warns that “his first place in the European Climate Foundation ranking should not be a reason for complacency”.

The researcher lists some of the outstanding issues, such as the absence of an independent scientific committee (which has contributed to boosting decarbonisation in other countries), the lack of carbon budgets, whether energy efficiency targets can be met and whether we will be able to mobilise the necessary funding (more than 200 billion euros) over the next decade, among others.

Opportunity for improvement

According to the ECF report, the most recurrent problems in the drafts presented include limited plans for phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies; little indication of the necessary investments: excessive use of unsustainable biomass; inadequate public consultation; and the lack of a clear intention to zero emissions by 2050.

In terms of the good practices identified, such as high citizen participation in drawing up plans in the NIPs of Ireland and the Netherlands, experts point out that they can inspire national and other EU policy-makers to adopt them in their plans. The European Commission is expected to publish its own assessment and recommendations on national climate plans in June.

The good news is that there is room and time for improvement. As David López Morales, member of the European Climate Foundation, pointed out on Tuesday in Madrid, in a meeting with journalists, “these plans are still drafts and the analysis we have made has allowed us to offer a series of recommendations that can help to improve them”.

The Member States have until the end of the year to do so, as that is when they must present the final versions of the plans, together with the long-term national strategies. According to López Morales, “they must take advantage of this time to draw up coherent climate plans, with due public consultation, which guarantee the security of investments and help reap the numerous economic and social benefits of the transition to a society with net zero carbon emissions”.

The Road to Zero Net Emissions

The truth is that, as they stand today, none of the plans presented would achieve zero net emissions by 2050 and in an inclusive and socially just manner, according to Julien Pestiaux of Climact: “Our work shows that the EU Member States are clearly not in line with the Net Zero 2050 trajectory or any of the scientific findings of the IPCC 1.5°C Report. With a few notable exceptions, they also show little ambition and concreteness in achieving their renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, and fall short of adequately supporting the climate and energy transition required in Europe.

In ECF, however, they value the work done: “The EU has taken an important step by requiring Member States to establish integrated plans that show how they will finally reach the Paris target. As this is the first time that Member States have carried out this exercise, it is understandable that the scores are not yet perfect. But, they insist, “governments cannot afford to miss this unique opportunity to set ambitious and credible policies. These, in turn, will make it possible to attract more public and private funding for clean energy infrastructure, improving the quality of life and reducing the cost of transition for European citizens.

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, concludes: “The planning for the future we want begins today. National climate plans are an opportunity to think about the countries we want to have in the next 10, 20 and 30 years. EU countries can decide to risk losing a decade of climate inaction or ensure that the right investments and policies are in place to reap the economic and social benefits of a transition to a zero-emission society.

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