Spain Has Declared a Climate Emergency, What Exactly Does that Mean?

Spain is one of over 20 other countries to have announced a climate emergency.
Chris Young

Fires are still raging in Australia and the outlook on climate change will look increasingly dire unless drastic action is taken. Thankfully, it seems that governments are starting to take this seriously.

This week, Spain's newly formed government has officially declared a national climate emergency, on Tuesday. That makes it the 26th country in the world to have announced a climate emergency.

We take a look at what exactly this means for the country and what will change for its citizens?


A plan of action

The official announcement, approved by the Cabinet in Spain, says the country's government will send a climate legislation proposal, aimed at tackling the climate crisis, to parliament within 100 days. As AP News reports, the targets Spain are aiming for in their new legislation largely coincide with those of the European Union.

The main proposal so far is a reduction of net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

This means that Spanish citizens will see an upsurge in renewable energy solutions. They will also see an increase in sustainable public transport and other initiatives, such as making farming carbon neutral. Barcelona, the country's second city, has already bought 100+ new electric buses over the last few months, as the city aims to cut down emissions.

The official announcement from the Spanish government comes at roughly the same time as Storm Gloria hit the east coast of Spain causing a freak foam flood in Tossa de Mar, north of Barcelona.

We know that Spain's coalition government wants up to 95% of the country's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2040. However, the full details of the plan won't be made public until the proposed legislation is sent to parliament for approval.

Will it be enough?

Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion were quick to praise Spain's decision, with one caveat: while Spain's announcement does tick off two of the group's well-known demands — tell the truth and form a citizen's assembly to tackle the issue — it doesn't aim to bring carbon emissions down to net zero by 2025.

Some might say that Extinction's Rebellion's demands and actions are excessive, while others say they are necessary. One thing that can't be debated is that 2019 saw the end of by far the hottest decade on record — a worrying trend that urgently needs addressing.

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