Recently, Spain declared a national climate emergency, joining a growing list of countries that have decided to actively fight climate change. It’s a logical move from a country that has suffered through unprecedented heat waves due to climate change and the declaration lays out a plan to reach carbon neutrality that directly correlates with EU goals.
This represents a formal beginning to Spain’s fight to save the environment. Here’s what you need to know about Spain’s latest move.
The History of Spain’s Climate Emergency
Spain has three main types of climate zones across the country: Mediterranean, oceanic, and semiarid. Both Mediterranean and semiarid climates experience hot dry summers, often exacerbated by heatwaves.
Heatwaves occur when high-pressure systems push hot Saharan winds north, and they represent an increasingly pressing issue for the continent. Climate change has led to a dramatic increase in the occurrence of heatwaves across Europe.
Back in 2014, a Nature.com study found that Europe is 10 times more likely to experience major heat waves than it was a decade ago.
The study cited the 2003 European heat waves, which set 500-year records and killed 35,000, before projecting that such occurrences would be more common in the future. This proved correct last year when the 2019 European heatwaves broke records yet again.
Climate Emergency Ramifications Could Become Commonplace In Not Too Long
These occurrences could even become commonplace by 2040. This represents a mounting problem for Spain, a country that is already largely characterized by dry heat.
These heat waves represent a major health and safety problem for Spain, and citizens have begun taking action.
This past December Madrid hosted the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, aka COP25. It was met with harsh protesters including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
When questioned she remarked: “Basically nothing has happened. The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power.”
Spain seems to have listened since then.
Five days ago the city of Barcelona declared a climate emergency and Mayor Calou called for a “paradigm shift” towards a new, sustainable economic model. Hopefully, Spain’s nationwide declaration will help bring about a change that is already occurring in other green European households.
What Does a Climate Emergency Declaration Mean?
Spain declaring a climate emergency indicates an official first step to beginning a true fight against climate change. A report from The Associated Press indicates that the cabinet has set carbon neutrality goals that align with the EU’s hopes of eliminating emissions by 2050.
The government also hopes to use 95% renewable energy by 2040 and cut transportation and agricultural emissions entirely. The cabinet’s declaration means that they must send legislation to parliament within 100 days.
The exact details have the plan have not yet released. They will be made public as soon as the legislation is sent.
On its face, this looks insignificant, as the public currently sees no hard plan to fight climate change. However, as grassroots environmental advocacy group The Climate Mobilization explains, these declarations are actually quite significant.
Declarations grant momentum to the fight against climate change, as an ever-increasing list of countries and localities break their silence.
The declarations prompt legislative action and a search for solutions, and they encourage other governments to do the same. As it stands 24 countries have declared climate emergencies, and that number will only grow.
Spain’s Climate Policy Moving Forward
It may seem ceremonial, but Spain made a definitive step in the right direction. Law and policymakers have shown that they are fully aware of the problem, and are making a true effort to fix it.
Simply having a government aware enough to face the threat of climate change is (rather sadly) a win in today’s political climate. A multitude of states and localities actively deny climate emergencies, as can be seen in Alaska’s current administration.
Such ignorance and denial often results in disaster, as the Australian fire crisis has made clear.
Hopefully, Spain’s actions among both citizens and politicians will encourage other nations to follow, as a solution can only be reached together.