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Spain—Falling Behind

The EU Effort Sharing Emissions Calculator is a method used to implement the EU’s Emission Sharing Regulation, which is intended to help set emission reduction targets for member states. The Calculator uses a points system where points are awarded based on various factors. The countries are then ranked based on the number of points awarded. As of March 2017, only one country ranked lower than Spain, and Spain’s efforts to curb its carbon emissions were given a ranking of “very poor.”

The factors upon which a country is awarded points include a country’s starting point for determining projected 2021-2030 emissions, its stance on the land use loophole and ETS surplus loophole, its system for governing any adopted policies, and its ambition level, which is described as the following: “The ESR must set Europe on a path to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and hence contain a trajectory to reach at least 95% emission cuts by 2050 supported by, at a minimum, a 45% reduction in non-ETS sectors by 2030.” The Effort Sharing Emissions Calculator provides a rubric that explains how the exact number of points for each category is awarded. The maximum number of points a country can receive is 100 and the lowest possible number is 0. Sweden holds the ranking of first place with 67 points, while Spain has only 9 points. The text below from the Emissions Calculator analysis of Spain illustrates why Spain was awarded the 9 points:

Spain wants to weaken the Commission proposal on the emission reductions starting point by moving the start of the trajectory from 2020 to 2021. This would allow the release of an additional 249 Mt CO2 over the period in the EU as a whole compared to the Commission proposal.  Spain could improve its position by advocating for a starting point that better reflects actual emissions, and by ensuring that countries that do not meet their 2020 targets are not rewarded for underachieving. A limitation on how much surplus can be banked for use in future years would lead to further emission cuts.

Spain has so far pushed for a bigger role for forests in the ESR, above all to help with the difficult task to maintain and enhance the Mediterranean forest sinks. Spain wants to do so by further expanding the categories of forestry offsets that can be used to meet the ESR targets (by including forest management offsets), which would allow more greenhouse gas emissions Spain could improve its position by advocating for reducing or removing the option to use forestry offsets to meet the ESR targets.

Spain is not among the nine countries that in the Commission proposal are allowed to use surplus ETS allowances to meet their ESR targets but seems to support the Commission proposal.  Spain could improve its position by advocating for reducing or removing the option to use surplus ETS allowances
Spain seems to support the Commission proposal for 5-yearly compliance checks. Spain could improve its position by advocating for yearly compliance checks and financial penalties.

Spain accepts its 2030 climate target of 26% emissions reductions, but is not planning to go beyond it, nor does it have a long-term climate target. Spain could improve its position by supporting a higher domestic 2030 target (as its own Parliament recommends) and an ambitious long-term target.
In order to comply with the Paris Agreement, Spain may have to adopt some of the recommendations made above by Carbon Market Watch, including incorporating yearly compliance checks instead of 5-yearly checks, not advocating for the land use loophole, and by using the year 2020 as a starting point instead of the year 2021.

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