The COVID-19 recovery plan is an opportunity to carry out a truly green revolution
In this interview, Juanma Moreno, President of Andalusia, shares his views as rapporteur on the new European Climate Law, the legally binding proposal on the table to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. His draft opinion on the Climate Law is to be discussed and voted at the next ENVE Commission meeting on 8 June. Final vote and adoption is scheduled at the 1-2 July plenary session along with a high-level debate on the European Green Deal.
The European Commission published its proposal for a Climate Law before the COVID-19 outbreak, a very different context from the current one. Should the efforts to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 remain a priority within the economic and social recovery plan?
Of course, this goal must remain a priority as much as this recovery represents a great opportunity. We must remember that, prior to the current situation, our society was already immersed in an industrial revolution and dealing with the consequences of global warming. The solutions we need in order to overcome the social and economic challenges we now face are also an opportunity to redirect our society towards a sustainable and more resilient model, and our economy towards a climate-neutral one. The COVID-19 recovery plan is an opportunity to carry out a truly green revolution. We must therefore make greater use of sources of renewable energy, promote energy efficiency and effective infrastructures, and further develop sustainable transport systems, all the while keeping a focus on job creation.
The European Commission’s proposal for a European Climate Law was criticised for its lack of ambition when it was published. In which respects could it have shown more ambition?
The Andalusian government considers that the binding climate neutrality objective by 2050, as set out in the proposed European Climate Law, is sufficiently ambitious, and that it constitutes a major challenge for the whole European Union. However, we believe that it is essential that new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 are specified as soon as possible, at EU and national levels, given the scale of the social, technological and economic transformations that must be addressed.
Andalusia has adopted a regional climate law. From your experience, what are the areas in which local and regional authorities (LRAs) can better contribute and have a greater impact on the path towards climate neutrality? Why are LRAs better positioned in these areas than national governments?
Some of the carbon-intensive sectors in which we need to act fall under the competencies of local and regional administrations. This is the case for transport, housing and public buildings as well as waste management. The importance of taking a regional and local approach to climate change is evident, since global warming impacts each region in different ways and on the basis of multiple factors. We therefore need to establish coordination mechanisms amongst all levels of governance so that the planning and execution of climate policies in each territory is complementary and aligned in order to optimise resources and obtain better results.
Do you think that a single European Climate Law is able to properly reflect and fit the wide diversity of regions across Europe in geographical, social and economic terms?
It is precisely because of the socio-economic and geographical diversity of the territories of the European Union that we need a single law that acts as a unifying framework. This same spirit constitutes the basis of the European project. Due to the diversity of local and regional realities, we must develop the active participation of all territories both in the design and in the implementation process of the new Climate Law. Local and regional authorities are not only the public administrations closest to the citizens, but they are also those ultimately responsible for the implementation of the new legislation on the ground. This makes it an efficient tool to reduce divergences between territories and deliver a more resilient society.
What modifications to the European Climate Law proposal would you put forward so as to guarantee that regions and cities are better considered and more involved in the process?
Regional and local factors are key when drafting climate-neutrality strategies and action plans. Socio-economic, geographical and climate-related variables must be taken into consideration when evaluating and assessing vulnerabilities and risks as well as defining future scenarios. National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) need to be complemented with regional and local ones, following the same criteria such as profitability, economic and energy efficiency, equity and solidarity. Local and regional authorities play a key role in climate adaptation and mitigation measures. As such, developing regional angles would increase our chances of achieving the collective objective we are working on. That is to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world, by 2050.