The serious warnings of scientists about the impact of climate change on the planet do not resonate with a good part of the political class. More than half of countries in Europe do not have climate change laws. This stems from the ‘Climate Laws in Europe’ report conducted as part of the ‘Life Unify’ project, which aims to promote an efficient transition of European Union (EU) Member States to resilient and low-carbon economies.
The report analyzes the situation in seventeen European countries: Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Nine of them have yet to pass a climate change law. This is not the case with Spain, which passed the Climate Change and Energy Transformation Act a year ago..
In July last year, the European Commission launched a series of so-called legislative proposals. ‘suitable for 55’for the purpose of Align Community regulations with the new targets of climate neutrality for 2050 and reduce net emissions in the EU by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 (before 40%).
One more urgent proposal has been added to these reforms already underway in the European institutions. Plan ‘REPowerEU’in the face of rising energy prices and the war in Ukraine, The need to move faster in the EU’s decarbonisation and towards greater energy sovereignty and security.
These legislative reforms cover European laws in the areas of climate, energy, buildings, transport and land use, among others.
Important development in Spain
Unify, a project by SEO/BirdLife from Spain, focuses in its report on the climate action target, relevant policies and measures, the degree of public participation, and the presence of an independent independent committee in each country’s national regulations. experts.
According to the main conclusions of the document, Nine of the seventeen countries evaluated still do not have a state law on climate change. These are Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Italy, Turkey, Slovakia, North Macedonia, Latvia and Greece. However, the laws of these last four countries are still in process.
The work is also necessary to effectively comply with the acquired obligations. All European countries should “take individual responsibility for their emissions”, “implement monitoring mechanisms that lead them to climate neutrality, set a date for this target” and “start an independent expert committee” recommending and evaluating climate action according to scientific criteria”.
Regarding the situation in Spain, the report states that The law represents “significant progress” but adds that it is necessary to go “faster”. In addition, it lacks some elements that are well valued in other countries’ regulations, such as “total emission limits in fixed timeframes (carbon budgets) or emission reduction targets in each sector”. For all these reasons, it is necessary accelerate emissions reduction.
Spanish law sets a target of reducing emissions by 23% compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality before 2050.. It also obliges the Council of Ministers to begin an upward revision of these targets in 2023.
Accelerate emission reduction
However, the document is “requested by civil society”Advancing climate neutrality and accelerating emissions reductions by 2030supported by science, according to criteria of economic capacity, solidarity, climate justice and historical responsibility”.
“Inside emergency decarbonization processThis is important make renewable energies more compatible with biodiversity conservation and involve rural and urban populations more in climate action”, underlines SEO/BirdLife.
Another point that Unify considers important is strengthen public participation. It is emphasized that after several drafts and consultations, “but without open forums for public discussion on the goals”, the legislative text was urgently processed in Parliament during the lockdown due to the pandemic.
According to the report, this limited the transparency of the processhowever, civil society had the opportunity to discuss the changes with political groups.
Similarly, the law spurred the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly for Climate last weekend, which, after seven months of deliberation, endorsed 172 recommendations against climate change, which will be presented to Lawmakers and Government this June.
The law provides for the establishment of a Committee of Experts on Climate Change and Energy Transition to support climate action from science, but it still hasn’t been created a year after it went into effect.Report SEO/BirdLife.
For the NGO, it is “urgent” that the committee “to make recommendations for revision of emission reduction targets in 2023” as soon as possible and in a timely manner, and from the first moment adequate resources run their business independently.
200 million euro investment
Ana Márquez, coordinator of the LIFE Unify project in Spain, said that the implementation of Spanish law Investment estimated at more than 200,000 million euros in this decadetargeting priorities of the ecological transition, such as the development of renewable projects compatible with biodiversityincluding self-consumption; most improving energy efficiency in buildingsand creation of low emission zones in cities. All of these need commitment and encouragement from regional and local governments to accelerate their implementation,” he adds.
In this sense, the autonomous communities have delegated powers in key emissions sectors in Spain, as well as in the protection of biodiversity and carbon-rich ecosystems.
Again, only four communities have climate change laws: Catalonia, Andalusia, the Balearic Islands and Navarra. In the Commonwealth of Canary Islands and Valencia, preliminary bills have been approved, which are now going through the parliamentary process.
The Basque Country expects to approve its bill in the second half of this year. And three more regions are working on the draft: Aragon, Galicia and La Rioja, while the remaining seven and two autonomous cities have not yet confirmed their intention to develop it.
Countries included in Unify, each represented by an environmental NGO, are: Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. All this under the umbrella of the EU, represented by the Climate Change Network (CAN) Europe.
Reference report: https://unify.caneurope.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/05/2022_04_climate-laws-briefing_compressed.pdf
Assemble project website: https://unify.caneurope.org/