Spain’s dirty climate policy

As a major climate change stakeholder, spain is moving further away from agreed climate change targets, although the sunny country could meet its energy needs with renewables in the future

Climate change continues and europe will also suffer significantly from the changing conditions. According to a recent study, the mediterranean and alpine regions will be particularly hard hit by the changes. Spain, a major stakeholder, moves further and further away from climate change targets, according to sustainability study. Instead of being a leader in violating the kyoto protocol, the country could be a role model in the use of renewable energies. Greenpeace calculates that the sunny country could cover its projected energy consumption for 2050 with renewable energies.

"The potential for damage to various european regions in the face of global change will increase in the coming decades, leading to problems in agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, energy and water management, and tourism", says the study published in the journal science (more drought and flooding in europe).

As a cause, the researchers blame climate change above all. Food production, protection of water resources and recreation are affected. Climate change alone could lead to this, "that by 2080, an additional 14 to 38% of the population of the mediterranean region will live in areas with severe water shortages." it is precisely these regions that are experiencing an increase in water demand for tourism and agriculture.

Scientists expect more frequent and even more severe droughts, such as those currently affecting the iberian peninsula in particular. Spain is suffering from the most extreme drought since records began in 1947 (extreme drought in spain). In portugal it is not much different (portugal: summer has just begun).

But in spain, things look bleak as far as the implementation of climate change targets is concerned. A new study shows that the country is taking giant steps away from the kyoto protocol targets to which it has committed itself. The 2005 sustainability report notes a decline in eco-efficiency. "Spain is not making progress in recovering environmental quality, but its economic growth is increasingly linked to a higher consumption of environmental resources", is stated in the study, which was published last week in barcelona.

The experts point out that energy consumption has doubled in the last 20 years. Between 1990 and 2003, there was an annual increase of 0.5%. In the other eu countries, higher energy efficiency resulted in an average reduction of 1.3%. As a result, spain’s emissions of the greenhouse gas co2 in 2004 were already 45.61% higher than in 1990. In kyoto, the country was granted an increase of 15% due to a lagging development. The increase is already more than three times higher. The trend is upward, and spain is moving further and further away from the eu average in its leading position (spain is in the lead in the violation of kyoto) its iberian neighbor portugal, for example, is only 13 percentage points above the target value.

Tourism, construction and transport

Tourism and the construction sector, the mainstays of the spanish economy, have been under the greatest prere. The construction area has grown by 26% in only ten years (1990 – 2000). In some regions of the south coast even by 50%. This is also due to the real estate bubble, which is becoming more and more dangerous in the country.

Domingo jimenez, director of the observatory for sustainability (ose), explained at the presentation of the report that spain is currently building more housing than the country’s population "england, france and germany" together. "How many spaniards do not have a home?", he asked rhetorically. In any case, the homeless cannot afford an apartment. Since 1987, their prices have increased 13 times more than their wages, according to the trade union labor commissions.

Given that one third of spain is at risk of becoming desert (one third of spain is at risk of becoming desert), jimenez sees the main problems in the inefficient use of energy, water and land. However, the report also points to failed transportation policies. Thus, it was not public transportation that was expanded to ensure more environmentally friendly transportation, but rather the road network. "The indicators show that the transport of people by road on the spanish territory has increased by almost 90%, and that of goods by practically 100%". This is reported for the period 1990-2002.

Energy demand could be covered several times by 2050 from renewable energy sources

The environmental organization greenpeace will publish the most comprehensive energy study ever made for spain. Already in the run-up some data from it were made available. According to the study, spain, which today covers only a few percent of its energy needs from renewable sources, could completely cover its energy needs from renewable sources. The amount of energy calculated for 2050, 280 terawatt hours, could be covered tenfold by renewable energy in this sunny country. Electricity was even available in 55 times the amount.

"We have renewable resources in abundance, thanks to which we can replace all the dirty energy with clean energy", explains jose luis garcia ortega, who is in charge of the organization’s energy campaign. Not only solar energy and wind energy, but also biomass are significant, although greenpeace sets maximum limits for environmental protection in their use, 18% of the total electricity could be produced with them. The first thing to be replaced was nuclear energy, which generates 50 % of the electricity required, but only accounts for 19 % of total energy consumption.

Greenpeace attacks the socialist government for its energy policy. The socialists (psoe), who have been in government since march 2004, have set only moderate targets that will not achieve the climate protection goals. Instead of pumping money into nonsensical technologies, such as the expensive storage of co2 underground, it was necessary to focus fully on renewable energies. Government plans so far only call for an increase to 12% by 2010. But the organization is calling for the construction of 1.000 mw of capacity from solar power plants and a further 1.000 mw from photovoltaics. That is twice as much as has been planned so far. Instead of the targeted 20.000 mw from wind energy it should be at least 25.000 mw would be

The psoe is unlikely to keep its election promise to phase out nuclear power, given the targets. The journey here is also more in the direction that the conservative processors have aimed for (spain wants to keep nuclear power in europe) the latest indication of this is last week’s statement by the director of the institute for the diversification and saving of energy (idae), who said that the government’s plans for the use of renewable energies and energy saving were halfway through the process. Garcia breva calls greenpeace an "courageous and committed". With him, according to greenpeace, the only person who had focused on renewable energies and energy efficiency was dismissed. Breva’s efforts have been constantly blocked anyway, which is why his plans for the use of renewable energies and energy saving are stuck halfway. But even this went too far for the minister of industry, jose montilla.

With the entlang, the government has shown that it can "defended the interests of a lobby that relies on dirty energies such as nuclear power and fossil fuels". Jose montilla had rather "nuclear advocates" and secretary general for energy, antonio fernandez segura, who has repeatedly shown his aversion to renewable energies, greenpeace says. Segura had just shown his broad agreement with a study by the international energy agency (iea). In it, its executive director claude mandil had warned the government of the "enormous consequences for supply, economic growth and environmental protection" if it is to gradually replace nuclear energy with renewable energy sources, as it has promised to do.

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