Spain accused of climate policy inaction

Unions, NGOs, claim policy delays mean Kyoto emissions target will be "missed by a large margin"

The Spanish government has been attacked by trade unions and environmental NGOs for failing to take sufficient steps to control emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. On present trends, the groups say, Spain will miss its Kyoto protocol emissions limitation target by a very wide margin.

Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), one of Spain's biggest trade union confederations, and environmental NGO Ecologists in Action, independently calculate that Spain's carbon dioxide emissions rose by 22.8% or 23.2% respectively between 1990 and 1998. This is already an increase of nearly half as much again as its Kyoto commitment to limit the increase in greenhouse gas emissions to 15% above 1990 levels by 2008-2012.

No Spanish government data on carbon dioxide emissions growth is available. However Carlos Martinez of CCOO told ENDS Daily that "technical experts" in the industry ministry "accept these figures". He accused the government of "burying its head in the sand" over climate change.

A national climate change strategy was promised by environment minister Isabel Tocino last November when she published draft proposals made by a national climate policy committee formed earlier in the year (ENDS Daily 9 February 1998). But the proposed plan has not been published and an environment ministry spokesperson told ENDS Daily that its publication was "unlikely" before spring 2000.

Spanish NGOs and unions also criticise delays over a plan to promote renewable energy production as evidence of the lack of a clear government strategy on climate change. The plan, which was announced by the national Institute for Energy Saving and Diversification (IDEA) in May, is still awaiting government approval.

According to Enrique José Vicent, deputy director general for electric power at Spain's industry ministry, the euros 2.47bn (SPta410bn) tax incentives for renewable energy producers included in the plan are considered "excessive" by the finance ministry. Meanwhile, the finance ministry last week announced a 7% reduction in tax on motorway tolls as an anti-inflationary measure, which, critics say, will encourage car use and therefore fossil fuel consumption.

The promotion of renewable energy production through subsidies and tax breaks and incentives to reduce fuel consumption in private vehicles were both mentioned in the draft proposals for the national climate plan as key measures for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Follow Up:
Comisiones Obreras, tel: +34 91 319 1750; Spanish industry ministry, tel: +34 91 349 4000; Ecologists in Action, tel: +34 91 547 4216. Spanish environment ministry, tel: +34 91 597 6030.

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