Spotlight Activity: New Government Suggests Potential Era of Environmental Leadership on the Iberian Peninsula
2018 has been a promising year for Spanish environmental stewardship. The beginning of June saw with it the election of a socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, whose self-purported ecological empathy and progressive stance on climactic issues far surpasses the lack thereof, on both accounts, of his carbon-allied conservative predecessor, Mariano Rajoy. The aftershock of the election brought about a whirlwind of bureaucratic change, culminating in the creation of a new governmental ministry that united two conflicted environmental regulatory bodies. Highly qualified Teresa May Ribera was then charged with spearheading this transition at the helm of the aptly named “Ministry for Ecological Transition.” This unification has created a vessel for change and a found a congruous captain, but it remains to be seen if this change is realizable on a national level in a majority conservative country that is historically dependent on and lenient towards the fossil fuel industry.
The first environmental policy passed by the new government reverted much-contested restrictions on solar energy production, setting the stage for Spain’s solar potential. This was an important maneuver, as these restrictions had left bad tastes in the mouth of many a Spaniard. Secondly, it called to shut down the majority of the countries coal mines by the end of this year, simultaneously allocating 250 million Euros in professional retraining and social security benefits for miners, re-greening of the mines, and general diversification of the mining areas. This policy has been met with support from the European community as an exemplary step in the right direction with climate neutrality going hand in hand with social security and support, although it has been heavily criticized by conservative factions of the Spanish nation. The Ministry for Ecological Transition has further promised to ban the sale of fossil-fueled automobiles by 2040, but little obligatory language has been utilized to reinforce this decision on a policy level.
These governmental changes set the stage for a potential EU future wherein Spain takes the role of leader in climate change reduction on a global scale if they play their environmental cards right, namely their solar suit. The question levied by many critics is, do these progressive actions have adequate support of the conservative majority government and of civil society to ensure the implementation and longevity of the policies? Only time will tell but we hope that Sánchez and Ribera will stay true to their campaign convictions and will start utilizing some hardline obligatory rhetoric and regulation in their utopian environmental policies.
Status: Right Direction
These new progressive policies hopefully foreshadow Spain’s role at the forefront of environmental stewardship on the international geopolitical seas as we sail towards the future of sustainability. Please send the following message to the policymaker below:
Secretary of State for the Environment,
We would like to thank the Spanish government as a whole, and more specifically, the Ministry for Ecological Transition, for taking the first progressive steps towards carbon neutrality on the Iberian Peninsula. The future is brighter now that Spain’s solar potential is being politically recognized, and coal reliance is waning, although more stringent regulations and obligations need to be put in place in order to ensure the preservation of the international climate for future generations. Gracias por su ambición y continua con los pasos progresivos que ha tomado contra el cambio climático para garantizar la seguridad futura de nuestro mundo.
Secretary of State for the Environment – email@example.com
Secretary of State of Energy – firstname.lastname@example.org
Spanish Climate Change Office – email@example.com
Ministry for Ecological Transition (Press Contact) – firstname.lastname@example.org