Go For It Pedro!

4 December 2018

As Spanish President Pedro Sánchez spoke in the High Level Segment, ECO heard in his words the difficulties facing several world leaders. He felt unable to offer new commitments, and played it safe; only mentioning a part of his government’s ambition programme. Uncertainties of all kinds (intensified in Spain by the alarming rise of the extreme right as a political force in the elections in Andalucía, traditionally a socialist stronghold) make the job of leading an ambitious climate transformation doubly difficult. His minority socialist government faces other headwinds €” playing “catch-up” after years of conservative inaction; difficulties over the 2019 budget; opposition from the influential car lobby to proposals on diesel taxation and on banning the sale of polluting vehicles by 2040; the difficult relationship with the left-green “Unidos Podemos” alliance; and the shadow of the far right looming over May’s municipal, regional, and EU elections.

ECO sends strength, hope and courage to Sánchez and his team for their climate ambition, energy transition, just transition and ecological transition agendas. Greater dialogue and participation, strong leadership towards political consensus, and setting aside political differences on key issues, are three elements which ECO will watch with interest in the future, as we look forward here in Katowice to the arrival of his Minister and veteran COP negotiator, Teresa Ribera.

Take courage from public support and match your words with action, President Sánchez. Put the previous government’s record behind you and show the world a Spanish President who keeps his promises, and really cares about his country’s vulnerability to climate change. Your emerging strategy, abolishing the ‘sun tax” and pushing forward on renewables, is good for the future of the Spanish economy and job market, for people’s health, for Spain’s image abroad, for the EU and for the planet and our climate. ECO would like you to go further, faster, but Spain is finally getting on the right track.

And Spanish citizens need proof that things can be done differently so they can face change without fear. Your proposed climate change law is a good opportunity; it will create new jobs in more sustainable sectors while maintaining current ones, helping to bury the myth that protecting our environment is bad for the economy. The reverse has never been more true, but prove it: step up with your decarbonization promise and push ahead with your proposed law.

So: join the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Plan for coal plant closure by 2025. Support maximum EU ambition by calling for 2030 emissions reductions (against the 1990 baseline) beyond the 55% that some Member States and the European Parliament are calling for, with net zero EU emissions by 2050 at the latest, and revision of the EU’s NDC. Show stronger climate commitment in negotiations on the 2021- 2027 EU budget framework and agriculture policy reform. Propose an ambitious ecosystem conservation and restoration programme €” a real “ecological transition”. And finally: present, debate and defend ambitious proposals for a national climate and energy transition law and associated strategic plan.

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