Spain approves its first Law against Climate Change

The Spanish parliament has just passed the first Climate Change and Energy Transition Law. Its aim is to help Spain achieving "before 2050" the so-called climate neutrality. According to the text, all sectors, including farming, must contribute to the economy’s decarbonization.

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For the first time, and more than five years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, Spain has a climate change law, through which the country will stop emitting greenhouse gases in less than three decades (Fig. 1).

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Fig. 1. Greenhouse gas emissions in Spain: breakdown by sector in 2019

To this end, it will say goodbye to the sale of diesel and gasoline cars in 2040, modify the electricity system to make it 100% renewable (Fig. 2) and forbid the exploitation of hydrocarbons, among other measures. This rule will gradually change the way Spaniards live, the way they produce and even the landscape of Spain.

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Fig. 2. Energy consumed in Spain generated with renewables 2004-2020

Investment and employment

In the preamble of the law, which is also presented as an instrument to channel European recovery funds, it is assured that the energy transition promoted by this norm "allows the mobilization of more than €200 billion of investment over the decade 2021-2030". In addition, it is argued that "net employment will increase by between 250,000 and 350,000 people at the end of the period" thanks to the proposed measures.

Criticism from environmentalists

Parliament gave the green light to a regulation whose main objective is a carbon-neutral Spain by 2050. The proposal received the support of most of the political groups although the majority of the environmental associations such as Greenpeace and Ecologistas en Acción has criticized it. These two organizations have been very critical because, although necessary and positive, its emissions reduction target is not very ambitious.


Starting on the road to achieving full decarbonization of the Spanish economy by 2050, the approved law also sets out a series of intermediate milestones.

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By 2030, a 23% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels; 42% of total final energy generated from renewables; a power system with at least 74% green energy generation; and efficiency improvements of at least 39%.

Among the improvements included is the establishment of a zoning system defining zones of sensitivity and exclusion for renewable energies due to their importance for biodiversity; and that, from now on, a section on their adaptation to climate change must be included in the management plans or instruments of the Protected Natural Spaces and the Natura 2000 network.

Farming and climate change

In Article 25 ("Rural development: agricultural policy, forestry policy and renewable energies"), the text states that, both in the implementation of the CAP and in the Spanish Forestry Plan, the government will incorporate measures aimed at reducing the vulnerability of agricultural land, forests and woodlands to climate change. It also points out that the participation of the agricultural and forestry sector in increasing the CO2 capture capacity of carbon sinks will be encouraged.

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Encouraging farmers

According to the spokesman of the farmers’ organization UPA, “we have long been calling for a law to address the challenge that poses a threat to the survival and viability of farms, and especially the most vulnerable model: family farming”.

He has pointed out that this law should serve to "improve the sustainability and competitiveness of family farming and, to this end, adaptation and mitigation practices should be encouraged and, in no case, penalize producers".  He has shown its deep concern for the possible "usurpation" of fertile land for the implementation of power generation plants, a process that "must be avoided at all costs". "Supporting the installation of alternative energy infrastructures is fundamental, as long as it generates wealth, welfare and future for all, especially for farmers living in the territory". He added that "in no case" should business groups and investment funds be able to benefit from speculative maneuvers that monopolize areas of farmland that are essential for the production of food that society demands.

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For this organization, the new CAP can be an opportunity for farmers through eco-schemes and agri-environmental measures, among others.

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