Climate Hero: Spain

Spain has picked up the pace from a gentle jog to a sprint in its break from fossil fuels this year, and is now one of the countries leading the European pack.

Spain is shutting down two-thirds of its coal-fired power plants this year and next - a pace of decommissioning not seen anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, Spain commissioned more new onshore wind than any other country in Europe. And, last week, the government announced plans to be carbon neutral by 2050.


Over the next three years Spain has committed €27bn to green energy spending - a small downpayment on the €750bn investment it forecasts will be needed to fund the move away from fossil fuels. By 2050, the decarbonisation strategy envisages a 90 percent reduction in emissions, the reforestation of 20,000 hectares and the restoration of 50,000 hectares of wetlands. And renewable power will rise from one fifth of the energy mix to 97 percent.

In May, the cabinet approved a draft law on climate change, which outlined more ambitious goals than the EU at the time on renewables and energy efficiency. The bill outlaws new coal, oil and gas extraction projects and ends direct fossil fuel subsidies.


As elsewhere, greening the economy is forecast to be good for jobs, and the Spanish government says its decarbonisation plan will increase the workforce by 1.6 percent. The ecological transition minister, Teresa Ribera, predicts Spain will go well beyond the 2030 targets set by the European Commission and has promised to push for still more ambitious policies in her country and throughout Europe.


Meanwhile, across Europe, the good news continues as renewables generated more power than coal this year, for the first time. The EU commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, says she wants Europe to be the world’s first carbon-neutral continent and, over the next 10 years, the commission has ear-marked investment of at least €1tn to achieve this goal.


This month, the European parliament voted in favour of climate neutrality by 2050 and 60 percent cuts in emissions by 2030 (compared with 1990 levels). Further progress has been seen in individual countries, including Denmark, Germany, France and (now outside the EU) Britain.