Spain will help the EU Come Close towards Reaching the EU 50% Emission Reduction Goal

Spain will not reach a 50% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2030. However, it will contribute towards coming close to meeting the 50% emission reduction threshold as a collective component of the wider EU bloc.

According to Spain’s objectives laid out in its Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (INECP), adopted in 2019, Spain is targeting a 23% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to its 1990 levels, by 2030, significantly lower than IPCCs recommended 50% reduction target. However, Spain’s INECP objectives have been designed in conjunction with the collective effort of the wider EU bloc. The EU Commission recognises vast variations between members regarding their state of economies, carbon-intensities, and GHG emissions reduction capacities and, therefore, has allowed each state to apply for varying degrees of emission reduction objectives. Nevertheless, the question remains whether the EU bloc will meet this ambitious target, as an EU-wide sufficiency analysis of member states existing INECPs reveal that emissions reductions of only 41% by 2030 will ultimately be reached.

In the case of Spain, the EU Commission has identified the 23% GHG emissions reduction target as “sufficiently ambitious” in contributing to the greater EU-bloc’s climate pledges. The EU bloc’s climate pledges are outlined in the 2030 Climate Target Plan, which initially set a GHG emissions reduction target of 40% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels, now revised upwards to 55%. The EU Commission expects all member states to continually reassess GHG emissions reduction opportunities and work on delivering a revised draft INECP with improved targets by June 2023, with final revisions to be submitted by June 2024 with the ultimate target of achieving a 60% GHG emissions reduction target by 2030.

Although Spain has made substantial headway in GHG emissions reductions, achieving 27% between 2005 and 2019, almost 60% of the declines were attributed to impressive development in its renewable energy sources. Continuing Spain’s renewable energy roll-out and securing its objective of reaching a 74% share of renewables in electricity generation by 2030 will require 241 billion euros of funding, where the government is expecting to secure 80% from private sources. Non-ETS (emissions not incorporated in the European Trading Scheme), in comparison, saw relatively modest reductions over the same period, with transport seeing an 11.4% reduction and agriculture a 4.6% reduction, while emissions in waste management conversely grew by 1.8%.

The government has acknowledged sluggish emissions reductions experienced in transport and committed to a highly ambitious 5 million electric vehicle (EV) roll-out by 2030, as outlined in MOVES III. However, despite providing tax breaks and financial incentives towards EV take-up amongst the population, sceptics point to Spain’s inadequate public charging infrastructure as a significant limiting factor in the years to come. Furthermore, despite pledging to improve the state of waste disposal and collection, there remains tremendous opportunity for further GHG emissions reductions in waste management as 52% of all waste still ends up in landfills. The Circular Economy Act seeks to reduce domestic material consumption by 30%, waste by 15%, and 50% in food waste, relative to 2010 levels by 2030. Significant emissions gains also remain through Spain’s widespread obsolete building stock, with the government committing to renovating 335,000 residential buildings, 690,000m2 of non-residential buildings, and 1,230,000m2 of public housing by 2026.

To achieve net zero by 2050, it has been estimated that Spain will need 2.5 trillion euros, equating to 85 billion euros a year or 6.2% of Spain’s GDP, to be invested in green technologies, including transport, buildings, and renewable energy sources. However, in February of this year, the lower house of Parliament in Spain passed a law that will extend the amount of available funding towards the agenda of sustainable development and the Paris Agreement, though only securing a sum of 0.7% of GDP by 2030, a far cry from the funding necessary.

Despite the Spanish central government showing encouraging support for the EU’s emissions reduction revision towards 55%, stating that “ecological transition is a cornerstone of [Spanish] recovery process” amidst the cost-of-living crisis brought by the war in Ukraine and COVID-19, questions remain whether the government can feasibly allocate the necessary funding to achieve its ambitious goals.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Sean Lewis.


Climate change is real, and what governments do matters.

Help us work with key stakeholders globally to ensure continued support of the The Paris Agreement.