Spain Says Sí to Green New Deal

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain Photo: La Moncloa via Inews

Spain held Parliamentary elections yesterday, and though no party won a majority, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, or PSOE, and current Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will win the largest percentage of the vote running on a progressive platform, of which an “ecological transition” that closely resembles the Green New Deal was a major plank.  At the World Economic Forum in Davos back in January, Climate Change News reported that Prime Minister Sanchez said, “The ecological transition, which has started to be known in many forums as the Green New Deal, should not instill fear,” because energy reform will create, rather than destroy jobs.  He said Spain, Europe’s fifth largest economy, was “in a privileged position to lead this change. We know what to do, and we are going to do it”.

The Intercept explained that Spain’s version of the Green New Deal includes:

  • reducing emissions by 90 percent below 1990 levels by mid-century and generating all of the country’s power from renewables along the same timeline;
  • mandating 74 percent of power to come from renewables by 2030;
  • banning fracking nationwide, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and government investments in fossil fuels, and
  • phasing out fossil-fueled vehicles, with the aim of banning the registration and sale of carbon-emitting vehicles by 2040.

Prime Minister Sánchez is sometimes referred to as the ‘accidental Prime Minister” because he took over last summer following a corruption scandal that brought down Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his right-wing Popular Party, the PP.   Immediately upon taking office, Sánchez appointed Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for ecological transition, who told The Intercept that her government “’accepts that we are in an emergency moment where we need to transform,’ calling it an ‘opportunity to update our economy and our industry.’ She sees it, too, as an opportunity to draw vital connections between income and wealth inequality and the degradation of the environment, ‘transforming that into a positive agenda.’”

Why This Matters:  Spain’s transformation shows what can happen when a visionary leader charts a new course.  Before this election, Spain had already done away with a tax on solar energy imposed by the prior government and had committed to installing 6,000-7,000MW of renewable power every year until 2030. It has also has set itself out as a model for a “socially just transition” towards clean energy, having overseen the closure of coal mines last December through a deal with mining unions that has the government investing €250m (£221m) in mining regions over the next decade to provide both early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-training programs for younger miners into cutting-edge green industries.  We can do many of the same things here — if we have progressive leadership and can develop the political will.  And we can learn from Spain as they implement their Green New Deal.

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