Spain will present its plan at the UN-backed climate talks in Poland this week. The proposals, set to be adopted by the cabinet in coming weeks, spell out an ambitious target to draw 100% of the country’s electricity from renewable by 2050.
The plan also aims to cut emissions by more than 90% over the same period.
“We are a government convinced of the importance of working on positive, co-operative multilateralism, and also taking our share of responsibly on domestic action,” stated Teresa Ribera, minister for the ecological transition. Climate change is already known to pose a direct threat to Spain.
Ribera stated that the new government, which came into power in June, aims to decarbonise the economy.
“When we think of the wildfires in California and the wildfires in Portugal, we realise this is exactly what was predicted by climate scientists — and exactly what was predicted by climate scientists for Spain,” Ms Ribera stated.
“This is terrifying for us.” Some of Spain’s agricultural lands also risk turning into desert as the continent heats up and water becomes more scarce, she adds.
“Fresh water is not secure in 20 years’ time unless we organise things differently.” The new plan, called the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law, sets out sweeping targets for how to wean the Spanish economy off fossil fuels, while also providing financial support and training to people whose jobs could be threatened by the change.
The law however must still be approved by parliament, where it could face opposition from those who want to move away from fossil fuels via a more gradual transition.
This government proposal will ensure that no more new licences for oil and gas exploration in Spanish waters will be issued and the country will stop all drilling completely by 2040. Cars fuelled by petrol or diesel will be phased out, and only electric and other “zero emission” vehicles will be sold in Spain.
To shift the electricity system away from fossil fuels, the government plans to start competitive tenders for 3,000MW of renewable power a year.
Developing more energy storage will also be essential. “Storage will be key in the energy transition,” says Ms Ribera.
Using water reservoirs and hydropower facilities to store energy, for example, by pumping water uphill on a sunny day when solar power is abundant, is one area of more potential.
“We want to test to what extent some share of the hydropower plays the function of storage,” she says.