Government goes green as election looms

28th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

28 November 2007, Madrid - Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero pledged Tuesday to make fighting climate change one of Spain's top priorities if he is reelected in March of next year, and said that the government will offer new incentives to encourage Spanish families to conserve energy.

28 November 2007

Madrid - Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero pledged Tuesday to make fighting climate change one of Spain's top priorities if he is reelected in March of next year, and said that the government will offer new incentives to encourage Spanish families to conserve energy.

"I am categorically committed to doing everything possible to stop global warming. It should be an absolute priority of every government," Zapatero said as he toured a new solar farm in the grounds of his residence at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid. "Spain will be on the frontline in its model of energy use and production," he added.

Zapatero, who yesterday received a report on the global warming threat from a panel of government-appointed experts, announced that his administration is planning to "stimulate" energy conservation and the use of alternative power sources in Spain, although he did not elaborate on what the new incentives will be.

"Spain has arrived late to many things, but it could still be in time to live in harmony with the environment," the prime minister said.

Experts agree that action now is essential if Spain and the world in general are to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of a warmer climate. The report presented by scientists to Zapatero yesterday predicts that in all possible scenarios Spain will suffer from the effects of global warming, including higher average temperatures, less rainfall and more extreme climatic events. A predicted rise of 15 to 35 centimeters in sea levels by 2050 will shrink beaches in areas such as Cádiz and Huelva by as much as 15 meters.

Spain is therefore keen to take action, although its track record to date has been poor. Under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the country was permitted to increase emissions by 15 percent over 1990 levels by 2010.

However, to date Spain's greenhouse-gas emissions have increased by 50 percent, making it one of the worst-performing countries in the older 15 members of the European Union, according to a report published yesterday by the European Environment Agency.

However, with a general election in March, neither Zapatero's governing Socialist Party nor the main opposition Popular Party are likely to propose anything too radical.

Government sources acknowledged yesterday, for example, that a proposal to introduce a one cent on a liter of fuel tax and use the proceeds to reduce Spain's greenhouse gas emissions has been scrapped.

"That proposal was made but it has been rejected," Jesús Caldera, the Socialist Party's election campaign coordinator, said. Sources said party bosses were concerned that the "green cent" would be seen as a tax increase by voters.

However, the government is nonetheless likely to press ahead with other initiatives, including creating a cabinet post for a minister for sustainable development to coordinate environmental policy between ministries.

It is also planning to continue with plans to phase out nuclear energy, even though proponents of nuclear power claim that it is a viable alternative to burning fossil fuels.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL. / Ángeles Espinosa 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

 

 

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