By Paul Davies and Rosa Espin

Spain is leading the fight against climate change with a proposed new Climate Change and Energy Transition Law.

The Spanish government regards climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing the country. Since 22 April 2016, the Paris Agreement (which sets out a global action plan to avoid climate change by limiting global warning to well below 2ºC), has been open for signature. Spain formally ratified the Paris Agreement in early 2017 and must now seek to implement measures to achieve the ambitious targets that it faces.

As an important consequence of these targets, in December last year the Spanish Climate Change Commission passed a proposal which urged the Government to develop a draft law on Climate Change and Energy Transition. This draft law will enable Spain to achieve its climate change and energy goals and promote competitiveness in the country. This proposed law is expected to regulate existing and future climate related measures, taking into account the climate change targets for the years 2030 and 2050.

Spain’s Prime Minister has recently pointed out that the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law must be passed during this term of office. He has stated that Spain “wants to be at the forefront of this commitment and to be a decisive player in this fight”.

It has been announced that in the coming weeks a public consultation process will be launched. So far, no details have been published on the specific measures that will form part of the new law. These will emerge following the conclusion of the public consultation.

However, there is much to do in relation to making the transition to a clean energy and low carbon economy. Although objectives are already set at a European level, the current Spanish legislation does not set targets beyond 2030. Consequently, the new Spanish law will need to cover, at least: (i) the main climate change objectives for 2050; (ii) a way of financing the necessary measures to guarantee appropriate transition; and (iii) the protection of those sectors and groups adversely affected by such transition.

Therefore, the forthcoming legislation will need to address the challenging task of combining the complex de-carbonisation of the economy with the demands of the business sector. As always, business is seeking rules that are predictable and comparable at an international level, as well a form of sufficient economic support to prevent loss of competitiveness.