Spain to lead the EU energy transition

In June 2018 the European Union agreed a 32% EU renewable energy target for 2030. Several member states tried to push for an even higher target of 35%. Spain was among them.

This was a kind of fresh air at the EU level as Spain can give a push in the fight against Climate Change. This represents a U-turn in the Spanish position as the previous government supported fossil fuels and particularly domestic coal extraction and coal fired electricity.

It formed a conservative block with Poland against the most ambitious countries such as Germany, France and Portugal which pushed for a 35% target. What stands behind the policy shift of Spain that has defended coal?

This is a significant policy change given that coal is still one of the main sources of energy in Spain. The no-confidence vote against the government of the Popular Party(PP) is what made this policy shift possible.

Prime Minister Sanchez, created a new ministry for ecological transition by merging the ministries for Environment and Energy which shows the commitment of the new Spanish government to fight Climate Change and protect the environment.

To head this new ministry Mr. Sanchez appointed a well-known advocate in the global fight against Climate Change Ms. Teresa Ribera.

Mr. Sanchez’s government will have act fast to draft a new law for the closure of coal-fired power plants in Spain as it does not have too much time until the next elections, which will take place in two years, if not before, taking into consideration its fragile support in Parliament that could turn thing upside down. Informed sources in Madrid said that the new government’s new law will be more ambitious and it is more likely that it will include the target to reach a Zero Emissions by 2050. On 11. June Ms. Teresa Ribera took part at the meeting of EU Energy ministers in Luxembourg where she made clear that Spain intends to revers course from the previous stance.

She emphasised that Spain sees this moment as a “wonderful opportunity” to be more ambitious. This will also make Spain a more attractive country to invest in renewable energies, this according to officials at the Spanish Energy Ministry.

By this shift in policy Spain will join the most ambitious nations something that can make a difference within the European Union. The European Union has long been a leader in the international diplomacy of Climate Change, reflecting the demands of European citizens for a clean environment.

About the Author

Israel Rafalovich
Israel Rafalovich is a journalist now based in Brussels who has over 50 years of experience in Tel-Aviv, Brussels, Bonn and Washington, DC. He covers Europe and the European institutions and writes a weekly column on International Relations.