On Tuesday, January 21, Spain’s coalition government announced plans to drastically reduce its carbon emissions in response to the “national climate emergency.” The declaration, approved by the cabinet, says the center-left socialist government will have 100 days to submit the plan to parliament for approval.
The announcement coincides with the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), where global leaders are putting emphasis on government responses to climate change.
Scientists claim that the previous decade was the hottest on record, and that 2019 was the second-hottest year ever recorded.
Specific details of the plan have yet to be announced, but are set to be revealed when the parliament receives it for approval. Reports indicate, however, that Spain’s proposal will mirror European Union guidelines aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The government wants up to 95% of its electricity to originate from renewable sources by 2040.
Furthermore, regulations for “low-emission zones (LEZs)” in large Spanish cities are also set to be included in the law. According to Spain’s environmental minister, Teresa Ribera, the bill will require all municipalities with populations over 50,000 people to create such zones. Primarily, this will be done by restricting car usage in city centers to improve air quality.
Cities play an outsize role in climate change, according to scientists. Estimates indicate that just 100 cities around the globe account for more than 20% of humanity’s total carbon output.
Over the past year, a handful of governing bodies have declared climate emergencies, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, among others.
Although climate activists regard these announcements as a necessary step to avert disaster, not everyone is in agreement. At the WEF, US President Donald Trump criticized climate activists as “prophets of doom.” “These alarmists always demand the same thing – absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives,’ he said. In Spain, a similar pushback is taking place. The Vox Party, a right-wing political party in the country, derided the proposed law as an “attack on hard-working, taxpaying Spaniards.”
There is, however, general consensus among the world’s governments that climate change poses a legitimate threat. Similarly, the vast majority of scientists – 97% of actively publishing scientists according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change.