Climate change is still an important issue. | PAU FIGUEROLA

Spain’s prime minister has vowed to make up for a decade of inaction on climate change brought on by a harsh economic recession during which he said the country lost its passion and creativity to tackle the issue.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, who came into power in June, said the low-carbon transition Spain is now aiming for must be “socially just”, and not leave anyone behind, including coal miners set to lose their jobs in the shift from fossil fuels.

“Spain is ready to contribute to creating a global economy that is prosperous, fair and ecological,” Sanchez told a high-level discussion on boosting climate ambition in Madrid.
A new national plan for energy and climate, expected to mobilize investments of 235 billion euros from 2021-2030, will soon be submitted to the European Union, he said.

Officials said the Socialist government also plans to present a new climate change law to parliament by the end of this month.

A draft, published last November, included targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and to produce all electricity from renewable sources by the same date.

Sanchez noted that legislation on climate change was often unpopular with the general public.

It could usher in tough adaptation in the short-term, but the aim was to avoid longer-term damage - and governments should ask citizens to understand and support this, he added.
Communicating the need for urgent action on climate change was a key motivation for two days of debate on sustainable development and climate change, organized by Spain’s Ministry for Ecological Transition.

Speakers included top global experts such as UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa, economists Nicholas Stern and Jeffrey Sachs, and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.