Spain will not be able to authorize new hydrocarbon or uranium mining projects as of today

Spain will not be able to grant new exploration authorizations, research permits or hydrocarbon exploitation concessions in “all” the national territory, including the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, as well as the uranium mining possibilities as of this Saturday, when the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law comes into force, published this Friday in the Official State Gazette.

This affects all applications that are not already in process before this Saturday, as stated in the law that also establishes that extensions of current projects are “expressly” excluded.

One of the main objectives of this regulation is for Spain to achieve neutrality of its emissions by 2050, that is to say that its balance of greenhouse gases (GHG) is zero between now and then it will begin, by law, from tomorrow, when Law 7/2021, of May 20, will enter into force.

This law consists of forty articles distributed in nine titles, nine additional provisions, three transitory provisions, a single repeal provision, and fifteen final provisions.

Specifically, it includes the national “minimum” targets for the reduction of GHG emissions for the 2030 horizon and with the goal of neutrality set at “no later than” 2050, although the targets established in 2021 must be revised upwards and to reflect the “highest possible ambition”, in 2023.

In this way, it reflects that between now and 2030 GHG emissions should have been reduced by at least 23% compared to 1990 and on that date at least a penetration of renewable energies will have been achieved in final energy consumption. of at least 42%, an electrical system with at least 74% generation from renewable energy sources and improve energy efficiency by reducing primary energy consumption by at least 39.5% with respect to the baseline according to community regulations.

Furthermore, in energy matters, as a general rule, the new norm establishes that the application of tax benefits to energy products of fossil origin must be “duly” justified “for reasons of social and economic interest or due to the lack of technological alternatives”.

In this area, the provisions emphasize that renewable gases will be promoted, including biogas, biomethane and hydrogen, as well as other alternatives.

With this, the Kingdom of Spain is committed to a specific roadmap to comply with its part of the Paris Climate Agreement, signed in the French capital in 2015 and subsequently ratified in 2016 in New York, as well as with the Union European Union, which has set a path that will reduce its GHG emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and will be in line with the 27 target of achieving climate neutrality by mid-century .

In terms of mobility, the challenge is to achieve in 2050 a fleet of cars and light commercial vehicles “without direct emissions” of CO2, for which as of 2040 none of these that is powered by gasoline will be sold in Spain. diesel or hybrids.

In cities, as of 2023, it will be mandatory to have low emission zones in the case of municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants or in those with more than 20,000 when they have air quality problems.

The road transport sector, which generates 25% of CO2 emissions, will have to develop a network of electric recharging infrastructures that will be installed in the “wide” network of 11,400 service stations, whose owners who will be required to install – as long as its annual fuel sales exceed 5 million liters – infrastructure for recharging battery-electric cars. These must have a power equal to or greater than 150 kW or 50 kW depending on the volume of sales.


Although in general it is effective from this Saturday, in the case of concession contracts in execution of these networks of gas stations or service stations, the Law will not enter into force until the moment in which it develops a regulation that determines the obligations of the owners or concessionaires of gas stations with regard to the installation of electric recharging points in order to guarantee sufficient supply conditions to the electric vehicle traffic that circulates on the aforementioned roads.

In cities, buildings will also have to adapt to the new scenario and for this the energy efficiency of the same will be promoted, with a plan that provides for the rehabilitation of the housing stock, an aspect in which the Law also observes an “engine” of market and employment.

The law also distributes responsibilities to companies, since listed companies must submit gradual decarbonization plans and compliance reports. At the same time, the autonomous communities will have to report on their energy and climate plans as of December 31 of this same 2021.

The norm also includes some protections for biodiversity, so that the deployment of renewable energies cannot be undertaken in enclaves of great cultural, landscape or biodiversity value.

On the other hand, a period of three years is given from this May 22, so that a specific strategy for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and species especially sensitive to the effects of climate change is presented to the Sectorial Conference on the Environment, These include natural ecosystems and high mountain species, Spanish terrestrial wetlands, posidonia meadows and riverbank areas, as well as those that stand out for their role in adapting to climate change.

This strategy will have adequate financing lines through the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Fund.

Finally, the law wants this entire decarbonization process to generate the least negative impacts for the most affected populations and sectors, which is why it includes a Just Transition Strategy to “optimize” opportunities in the activity and employment of the transition and adopt measures that guarantee equitable and supportive treatment of workers and territories in said transition.

To this end, every five years the Council of Ministers will renew these just transition strategies in which the autonomous communities will also collaborate.

According to the law, according to the estimates of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human activities are already responsible for an increase in global temperatures of approximately 1ºC above pre-industrial levels, so that at the current rate the increase in the Earth’s temperature will reach 1.5ºC between 2030 and 2052.

In the case of Spain, this increase in temperature is above the average by almost 0.5 ºC. The Law that comes into force this Saturday ultimately seeks to reverse, to or minimize the effects of the already declared “climate emergency” by the Spanish Parliament.

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