On July 16, a Spanish judge blocked an attempt by Madrid's council to lift restrictions on vehicles entering the city center. Under the current restrictions, only certain vehicles—primarily electric and hybrid cars—are permitted to enter a central area of around five square kilometers without being subject to fines. The court held the restrictions should remain in place pending further review by magistrates because lifting them would have an irreversible immediate impact on the environment.
On February 20, Spain announced a $53 billion public investment plan to tackle climate change and become carbon-neutral by 2050. The government intends to establish a calendar of capacity auctions to work toward a target of producing 74% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The proposal is expected to cut Spain's reliance on imported energy to 59% from 74% over 10 years. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-spain-climatechange/spain-proposes-53….
The Spanish government is considering a ban on the sale of gas and diesel cars as one of its measures to tackle climate change. The possible ban is part of a proposal the government released on November 13 that sets forth plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37% by 2030 and convert the national energy grid to 100% renewable sources by 2050. For the full story, see https://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2018/11/14/stories/1060106117.
Drought in southern Europe threatens to reduce cereal production in Italy and parts of Spain to its lowest level in at least 20 years, as well as other regional crops including olives and almonds. Spanish soft wheat imports are expected to rise more than 40% according to Agroinfomarket. Olive production is expected to fall in both Italy and Spain, the world's top producers of olive oil. Olive production in Italy was already plagued by insect and bacterial disease in recent years. Some see rising temperatures as a long-term trend that threatens the viability of farming in the region.
Last week at the C40 Mayors Summit, four cities—Athens, Mexico City, Madrid, and Paris—committed to ban diesel-fueled automobiles in their cities by 2025, a move applauded by many environmental supporters. Diesel-fueled vehicles had previously been championed for emitting less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered vehicles. The ban comes after local governments became attuned to the local pollution effects of diesel vehicles, in particular nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which manufacturers have been slow to resolve.
A Spanish court ruling declared Volkswagen’s parent company, Volkswagen Group, liable for any charges over emissions fraud. This decision makes the Germany-based corporation responsible in court rather than its smaller affiliates. Spanish affiliate companies include Seat, Volkswagen-Audi España, and Volkswagen Navarra. Initial proceedings against Volkswagen began in October, after Volkswagen admitted to cheating diesel emissions tests in the United States with illegal software.
The European Commission is taking Poland to court due to Poland’s inability to tackle poor air quality. Poland is Europe’s most polluted country, with pollution levels more than double those in France. More than 40,000 Poles die each year due to air pollution. Poland uses coal and, on occasion, garbage to heat the country’s homes. South Poland, near the ski resort towns, feels the effects stronger than the rest of the country due to local neglect of environmental rules.
Plans to reopen a Spanish mine near Seville were put on hold by a judicial investigation following claims of corruption in the bidding process. A rival company filed a complaint against Grupo Mexico-Minorbis alleging the consortium practiced illegal negotiations, bribery, peddling of influence, and perversion of justice during the bidding process.
The Spanish government has given oil group Repsol the go-ahead to begin drilling in the Canary Islands. Repsol, which has long sought approval to tap what may be Spain’s most significant oil source, has been held up by environmental concerns and government delays for over a decade. Now, the industry ministry has granted the company a three-year license to drill in several sites off the coast of the archipelago. While the Spanish government states that its decision was backed by rigorous scientific research, the drilling project has been met with strong opposition.
Last week, the Spanish Supreme Court rejected environmental appeals against oil drilling off the Canary Islands. Spain had granted exploration permits in the region in 2012, but they were put in hold due to environmental concerns. Now, the Supreme Court has opened the door for businesses such as Spanish oil company Repsol to move forward with exploration plans. The court’s decision angered islanders—who are concerned about the potential impacts on tourism—as well as environmentalists, who fear damage to the Canary Islands’ unique ecosystems.