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Spain—Basque Region Environmental Framework

The Environmental Framework Program implemented by the Basque region is an example of a policy that has been successfully implemented and shows evidence of helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The policy is easily replicable and scalable since Spain is composed of autonomous regions whose governments have the authority to implement such a policy.

The Environmental Framework Program contains a series of objectives: Climate change, air quality, water quality, soil quality, biodiversity, waste generation, consumption, and society. Each one is carefully monitored as the Program includes protocols for constant oversight. Data from program monitoring is then used to develop trends, projections and perhaps most importantly, to provide a basis upon which to reevaluate its current efforts.

As indicated above, the Basque region is steadily decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions, including a nearly 16% decrease between 2008 and 2012. This marked decrease of emissions took place during a time when the federal government was backpedaling on its own environmental conservation efforts with the reasoning that its struggling economy could not afford to maintain them. However, the Basque region reduced its emissions while experiencing a GDP increase of 25%, proving that Spain is capable of combating climate change without having to sacrifice its economic well being.

This decoupling of carbon emissions and GDP are in line with the European Union’s recent economic growth and concurring decrease in emissions. The reason for this is that the Basque region and the European Union both see the element of sustainability in the production industry as being a key step in future economic growth. The Environmental Framework Program states that, “Basque companies have successfully grasped that the environment is a factor for competitiveness and differentiation.” This break from viewing emissions-reduction and economic growth as being antonymous is what has allowed the Basque region to be so successful, and what will allow it to help Spain implement the European Union’s pledge to Paris.

Another way the Basque region and the Environmental Framework Program will help Spain fulfill the pledge is through the development of renewable energies. Spain is using its share of climate finance primarily for renewable energy sources. Objective Two of the Environmental Framework Program is aimed at engaging corporations and investments in the direction of renewable energies and encouraging lower carbon consumption through various measures. Spain has a rich history of promoting renewable energy. The economic crisis halted its developments, but the Environmental Framework Program and the Basque region are committed to looking to renewable energies instead of fossil fuels.

The Basque region and how its government has implemented policies to combat climate change can and should be a model to Spain’s other provinces. By following the example of the Environmental Framework Program, Spain’s other autonomous governments can pull the collective nation in the right direction.

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