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Spanish climate change policy

Spanish ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 implied the commitment of limiting emissions not above 15% regarding 1990’s level, in the period 2008-2012. Since then, Climate Change policies are extremely important for Spanish Institutions, both for the Action plan of the Central Government so as for Autonomous Communities (AACC) and Local Entities. Today, Climate Change is a key element that involves the different Spanish sectorial policies.

In order to coordinate Climate Change Policies, the Coordination Committee for Climate Change Policies (CCPCC) was created. This advisory body assures coordination within the Central Administración, Autonomous Communities and Local Authorities, so as with the National Council of Climate (CNC), that is a participation body where besides the Public Administration, Social Agents, Non Governmental Organizations and Researchers also play a significant role. To a lesser extent, the Delegate Government Comission por Climate Change (CDGCC) and the Interministerial Group for Climate Change, coordination body of Climate Change Policies within the different Central Government Administration Departments. Furthermore, to guarantee the involvement of Trade and Labour Unions, some Social Dialogue negotiation Tables have been established in order to elaborate and monitor the National Allocation Plan and the mitigate measures in diffused sectors, relating competitiveness, stability and social cohesion.

The general caracter of the mitigation measures and its long-term approach entails the need to develop some instruments within a strategic planification. During the last few years, the Spanish Administration has carried out the Spanish Strategy of Climate Change and Clean Energy (EECCEL), which allows stability and coherence to Climate Change policies. The EECCEL defines the basic guidelines considering a medium-long term approach (2001-2012-2020), including a range of measures that entails a direct or indirect reduction of greenhouse gases and the adjustment to its effects.

In this framework, some planification instruments have been developed, such as the “Urgent Measures Plan”, approved in 2007 which includes the “Strategy for Energy Saving and Efficiency in Spain 2008-2012 (PA E4)”, the Strategic Lines against Climate Change, established by the CDGCC, and the Plans and Strategies set up by the Autonomous Communities.

In this term of office, the Spanish Government has kept going into Climate Change Policies in depth, setting up the priorities to fulfil the objective of curbing emissions. With this aim was created, in July 2008, the Delegate Government Commission for Climate Change, chaired by the Vice-President of the Government and integrated by the Ministries of Foreign Affaires and Cooperation, Infrastructures, Education, Health and Social Policies, Industry Tourism and Trade and the Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Affaires, Housing, Science and innovation. Moreover, the Government Vice-presidencies and the Secretaries of State for the European Union, Defence, Economy, Treasury and Budgeting, Security, Planification and Infrastructures, Energy, Territorial Cooperation, Climate Change and Research. The objective of the Delegate Government Commission is to reinforce the politic action against climate change through cross cutting measures of the nine ministries involved. Since its first meeting, they have launched a range of urgent measures in the most relevant sectors regarding the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, identified such as “The Strategic Lines against Climate Change”, six lines with the aim of being accomplished in two years time since July, 2008. The Strategic Lines affect a wide range of sectors such as transports, waste and manure management, residential, energy, forestry and innovation. Within this framework, we could highlight the start up of the “Strategy of Sustainable Mobility”, the “National Integrated Waste Management Plan (PNIR)”, the “Bio-digestion Plan of Animal Waste”, the “Strategy for Energy Saving and Efficiency in the Central Administration buildings” or the works to set up an “Energy Certification System for new and old buildings”.

The Spanish Energy Policy is based on three axes; Security supply, competitiveness and sustainability. The new Gas and Electricity Planification 2008-2016, entails future facilities which cover the greater involvement of renewable technologies, so as the required gas infrastructures which supply the current needs due to the increase demand on gas both cogeneration and combined cycle. Besides, some plans are being performed with regard to savings and energy efficiency, renewable energies such as the “Strategy for Energy Savings and Efficiency in Spain 2004-2012” (PER). Regarding Renewable Energies, Spain has the aim to meet at least 12,1% of the total primary energy demand in 2010. In this context, many efforts have been made, which sets Spain as a world reference regarding renewable energies. The investment effort in clean electric generation has been remarkable, both in cogeneration and renewable energies. The cogeneration installed power capacity has increased from 488 MW in 1991 to 6063 MW in 2007. Furthermore, the investment and support given to renewable sources have allowed that around 20% of the electricity generated, that is 7% of primary energy, comes from these renewable sources, which, besides, improves efficiency.

As regards transport, the Strategic Plan for Infrastructure and Transport (PEIT) is being developed. In this framework, a great investment effort is being made on the railway transport, which obtains almost 50% of the total investment, with the aim of being the key element of the merchandise and passengers transport system. In April, 2009, the “Spanish Strategy for Sustainable Mobility, was adopted, setting up the guidelines and measures regarding land use planning, transport and infrastructures, climate change and reduction of energy dependence, air quality and noise, security and health and demand management, giving special attention to fostering alternatives to private vehicles and the use of more efficient and sustainable ways of transport.

The main measures in the residential, commercial and institutional sectors are related to the normative preparation and regulation process to obtain more efficiency and energetic savings in buildings. Among those rules it has to be emphasised those linked with the approval of the Technical Code for Building (Real Decreto 314/200), which sets the duty to include energy efficiency criteria and the use of solar, both thermal and photovoltaic energy in those new buildings or those which are being restored. Moreover, the new Regulation for Thermal Installations of Buildings, approved in July, 2007 and the Energetic Certification of Buildings (Real Decreto 47/2007), with a major target of improving energy efficiency in both, new and existing houses. In this sense, refurbishment and renovation works aimed to increase insulation, the use of renewable energy and increase efficiency on hot water systems and boilers, as well as high energy efficiency new subsidised housing, are prioritised in the implementation of the Plan. Moreover, in terms of the Housing Plan, the State Housing and Restoring Plan, approved in December, 2008 includes as one of its main axes, to improve energy efficiency in both, new and existing houses. In this sense, refurbishment and renovation works aimed to increase insulation, the use of renewable energy and increase efficiency on hot water systems and boilers, as well as high energy efficiency new subsidised housing, are prioritised in the implementation of the Plan.

On other hand, Spain keeps an active policy on forestry, inspired in the basic principle of sustainable forest system. It is framed by the Spanish Forestry Plan, and includes actions to increase carbon dioxide absorption in Spanish Forests, like reforestation, agricultural lands forestation and Hydrologic-Forest restoration. In terms of Research, Development and Innovation, it is highlighted the Strategic Action of Energy and Climate Change included in the 2008-2011 National Plan for Research, Development and Innovation. This strategy concentrates the main environmental objectives and the start up of the Research Institute of Climate Change in Zaragoza, as the cornerstone of a network of Excellence Centres, with the aim of fostering the existing Spanish know-how and the promotion within Germany and Denmark of the International Agency of Renewables Energies (IRENA), which is main objective is to support, promote and spread the use of renewable energies globally, to adequate the energetic system to the current challenges raise by climate change.

Many of the Mitigation policies and measures in diffuse sectors named at a state level are developed by the Autonomous Communities, which adapt the design and the implementation to the particular circumstances of each region and also may include additional measures. To be able to carry out these policies and measures, most AACC, have established strategies or action plans and have set up the necessary structure in their own administration to guarantee the implementation of these measures. The Autonomous Communities have assumed shared responsibility for the aim to fulfil national objectives and have set up a commitment to reduce emissions, most of them keeping national objectives as established in the National Allocation Plan (2008-2012).

Furthermore, Local Entities are also working to warn about Climate Change and adapt to its effects. Part of these activities are developed on a network framework, such as the Spanish Network of Cities for Climate Change (RECC), made up by Local Entities which are integrating the protection of climate in their municipal policies. This network was created in June, 2005, as a result of a collaboration agreement between the Spanish Federation of Provinces and Municipalities and the Ministry of Environment, in order to take advantage from the synergies and economies of scale due to the common methodologies and experiences.

The European Union strongly believes in the emission allowances market as a mechanism to promote the reduction of the emissions of greenhouse gases in an effective and economically efficient way. The emission allowances market was launched in 2005 which covers around 1,000 installations in our country, which account for more than 45% of the total national greenhouse gases emissions. In a relatively short period of time, it has been developed the legal framework necessary to give legal coverage to all the elements of this new instrument: Ruling Law for the trading of emissions allowances regime (Ley 1/2005), including an amendment to extend its application field, the National Allocation Plan, the National Registry for Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowances, normative bases to prove and verify the emissions following the European Directive.

One of the central elements of the emissions trading regime is the National Allocation Plan (NAP), which establishes the allowances to be shared by activities, the quantity of allowances that constitute the reserve for new entrants, flexible mechanisms use expectation, and fulfilment path. The Plan, not only establishes a reductions global target, but also sets up the emissions allowances market, whose key element is the distribution of those allowances among the owners of those installations whose activity is included among those mentioned in the Annex I of the 2003/87/CE Directive. Other key element in the well functioning of the emissions trade is the National Registry for Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowances (RENADE in Spanish). The National Registry for Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowances is the instrument that assures the publication and permanent updating of the ownership and control of the emissions allowances. This Registry started to work in June 2005 and since then it is operative.

The Spanish Government, in line with its compromise to fulfil the Kyoto Protocol, has decided to use, additionally to the domestic measures to reduce emissions that have been developed, the Flexible Mechanisms that the Protocol provides, particularly the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). CDM is considered by the Spanish Government as a key cooperation element in the international action against climate change due to its capacity to generate low-carbon economies, by the generation of both wealth and prosperity in the local communities. The perception of this opportunity determines the criteria that drives the Spanish public investment in the carbon markets: both in the election of the geographic area to invest (Latin America) and in the project selection (preferably energetic and the sustainable management of waste). The main political effort developed by the Government in the region is the creation of the Ibero-American Climate Change Bureau Network (RIOCC). Also, it has to be highlighted the strong investment made in carbon funds managed by financial multilateral institutions, to which it is pointed out the preference on Latin America, the use of instrument for the promotion of foreign trade, the bilateral relationship with the governments and the Designated National Authority of the Ibero-American countries.

Included in the cooperation strategy, on the one hand, there have been signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with countries for the promotion of the Clean Development Mechanism. On the other hand, in order to obtain the necessary allowances on the international markets, the Spanish Government has signed various commitments related to Carbon Funds with different Financial Multilateral Institutions with the aim of acquiring carbon credits in the international markets coming from projects based in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). (Spanish Carbon Fund, Bio-Carbon Fund, Community Developing Fund, from the World Bank, Latin America Carbon Iniciative from the Andean Development Corporation, Multilateral Carbon-credit Fund from the European Investment Bank-European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). Moreover, since 2008, Spain takes part in funds addressed to acquiring post-2012 credits such as the Carbon Partnership Facility (CPF) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, (FCPF) from the World Bank.

In this field, the Spanish General Administration also promotes the development of Green Investment Schemes, linked to buying and selling AAUs (Asigned Amount Units), according to the 17th Article of the Kyoto Protocol.

According to the adaptation measures, the Spanish Climate Change Bureau, trying to compile and review the studies related to climate changes impacts assessment, has promoted the carrying the ECCE project (Climate Change Effects in Spain). It was developed by a group of experts in different ecological systems, and economic and social sectors, whose main conclusions were published in an independent report called “Main conclusions of the Preliminary General Assessment of the Impacts in Spain due to the Effects of Climate Change”. After the publications of this report, the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan was set up, as a general framework for all the climatic evaluations, vulnerability assessment and adaptation measures in Spain. This plan has been launched with the aim of supporting all those administrations, private or public organizations, interested in evaluating climate change impacts in all sector and systems of their concern. Not only, providing the necessary knowledge and tools but promoting participation in all process which may improve as well.

The plan is developed through different work programs which include the main characteristics of the activities and impact evaluation, vulnerability and adaptation projects. The second Work Program has recently been approved for a 4 year period. This program follows the detailed studies already started and will also introduce new evaluation impact, vulnerability and adaptation lines to climate change in all those sectors included in the first program (coasts, water, biodiversity) so as new sectors such as agriculture, tourism, forests and land desertification.

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