In legislation passed by the national parliament, Spain has aligned itself with the European Union goals of carbon neutrality by 2050, besides some specific targets on both transport and energy sectors.
With the approval yesterday of its clean energy bill , the Spanish parliament has set the country on a path to carbon neutrality by 2040. Among key measures in the bill passed into law, area decision to ban fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2040, and to phase out all such vehicles from use by 2050.
With a focus on meeting the European Union target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the law now sets a national target by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 23 percent compared with 1990 levels. However these targets could still come under pressure, as we increasingly both the EU, as well as specific countries in the union, going for even more ambitious targets. In fact, it would be fair to say that most 2050 targets might yet see a reset to 2045 or even earlier, depending on the understanding and scale of climate change impact in this decade.
The EU currently has a 2030 target of cutting emissions by 55 percent compared with 1990 , a figure that was increased from 40 percent earlier.
While limits on all new coal, oil and gas extraction projects would be welcomed, as well as a renewables target of 42 percent of Spain’s total energy consumption, and at least 74 percent of its electricity production by 2030, the energy targets remain easier to achieve than the transportation goals. Courts have already struck down efforts to target fossil fuel powered vehicles in Spain and many other regions in Europe, by calling some of the new laws arbitrary, not backed by enough conclusive evidence and detrimental to local economies.
The Spanish effort, while a strong push finally to getting aligned with larger European and global efforts, remains limited in its ambition, particularly in terms o the timelines it has provided. Any major change that gives a timeline of over 15 years to incumbents can safely be said to be tokenism, particularly when combined with no immediate changes . The Spanish effort qualifies under this lackadaisical category. It effectively passes the onus of major changes to the next generation of leaders and managers, even as the current generation of ‘boomers’, or those over 60, hope to largely finish up without any major changes to their lifestyle or environmental impact.
Even EU targets, while seemingly impressive, pale into irrelevance when one considers that the region as a whole is actually expected to see an overall drop in population by 2100, a drop that will start almost continuously from 2035 onwards. From about 450 million currently, estimates have ranged between 309 million by Lancet, and 365 million by the UN.
Spain’s only population could drop as much as 11 percent from the current 46 million to around 41 million by 2050, according to many estimates.