The final approval could take months and the bill passed Tuesday by the left-wing coalition members of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Cabinet could still be modified by lawmakers. But if passed close to its current form, it would mark the first time that the goal of making Spain emission neutral by 2050 is enshrined in law.
World leaders agreed five years ago in Paris to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally no more than 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century. But scientists say countries will miss both of those goals by a wide margin unless drastic steps are taken to begin cutting greenhouse gas emissions this year.
The Spanish bill echoes the European Union’s goal of a "Green Deal” to reactivate growth amid the paralysis caused by the new coronavirus outbreak. Spain’s environment and energy minister, Teresa Ribera, said the pandemic makes it even more pressing the need to “modernize the economy.”
“The energy transition is going to become a determining driving force to generate economic activity and employment in the short term, and to do so in a manner consistent with what we will need as a country in the medium and long term,” said Ribera, who is also one of the country’s four deputy prime ministers.
“We can't return to the previous model,” she told reporters Tuesday. In order to achieve the mid-century goal, Spain would need first to reduce its 1990 carbon emissions by 23% by the end of the current decade. The country would also need to be more efficient to reduce energy consumption by 35% from current levels and switch to renewable sources to generate all of its electricity by mid-century.
That will require 200 billion euros (219 billion dollars) in investment during the next decade according to the Spanish government, which is pledging to foot about one fourth of the bill with public funds.
Environmental groups have welcomed the government’s draft but are demanding more ambition in further reducing carbon emissions.