The Basque Government approves the draft Energy Transition and Climate Change Law to achieve climate neutrality in the Basque Country before 2050


The Basque Government Council today approved the draft Energy Transition and Climate Change Law of the Basque Country with the aim of accelerating the decarbonization process through co-responsibility. Driven by the Basque Government's Department for Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, it will facilitate the alignment of the Basque Country with all regulations, policies and plans with which it has expressed its commitment and adherence at state and international levels, and thus achieve climate neutrality and a fair energy transition by 2050. 

The Energy Transition and Climate Change Law of the Basque Country, a commitment of the Basque Government in this legislature, is the first law to address climate change in the Basque Country. This law is a key tool to address both the goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which urged limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and adapting to the effects of climate change, and the Institutional Declaration of Climate Emergency in 2019 by the lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu. The declaration announced “urgent and ambitious actions” to achieve a carbon-neutral Basque Country by 2050.

The draft law, which after today’s approval will be sent to the Basque Parliament for its processing, voluntarily establishes a stable legal framework to achieve the objective of net-zero emissions in the Basque Country no later than 2050 through the reduction of emissions and to increase the absorption of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in order to achieve a level of net-zero emissions and enhance the resilience of our territory to climate change.
According to the latest existing data for the year 2020, the energy sector, transport and industry are the ones that contribute the most to the greenhouse gas emissions of the Basque Country, generating 84% of the total emissions in the Basque Country.

The contribution of the Basque Country in the map of total emissions of the European Union is around 0.5%, a contribution conditioned by the industrial weight and socio-economic and geographical characteristics of our territory; however, the basic principle that rules our policy on energy transition and climate change is that of shared responsibility. The Basque Country cannot remain on the sidelines, and from the Government we have assumed our part of responsibility with a deep and demanding commitment reflected in this draft law”, said Tapia.    

Fair Transition

"This entire process will be carried out under the criterion of a just transition that takes into account the equitable distribution of costs and burdens arising from it, leaving no one behind. Special attention will be given to the economic sectors, territories, and populations that are most vulnerable, integrating the variables of gender, age, or disabilities of individuals. The aim is to ensure that the transition does not become a new source of injustices and inequalities," stated Arantxa Tapia, Minister of Economic Development, Sustainability, and the Environment of the Basque Government.

For the Energy Transition and Climate Change Law to achieve its objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a pace is established in the transformation process, in accordance with international, European and state guidelines, and adapted to the socio-economic context of the Basque Country. To this end, the Basque Government will approve the 2050 Roadmap for Energy Transition and Climate Change which, based on existing scientific and technological knowledge, will define the path to achieve climate neutrality and resilience of the territory. 
This roadmap must be approved within a maximum period of 18 months after the approval of the law. It will outline the itinerary for achieving the set goals through energy transition and climate change strategies. The roadmap's time frame will be a maximum of a decade, and it will include quantitative and sector-specific objectives, as well as the necessary actions, tools, and resources to achieve them.

Actions on energy transition

In relation to the objective of achieving climate neutrality in the Basque Country by 2050, the draft law provides for the development of energy transition actions such as the establishment of energy efficiency and renewable energy obligations for companies, households, administration and remaining consumers; the promotion from public administrations of new energy vectors from renewable sources, such as hydrogen-based technologies (green hydrogen); the promotion of projects related to energy storage, both electrical and thermal, and initiatives that promote the capture and storage of CO2; and the approval of sustainable mobility plans.

The law provides other sector and territorial policies which may contribute to climate neutrality, within the framework of which develop actions aimed at establishing obligations, such as the performance of emission reduction plans aimed at minimizing the carbon footprint in certain sectors, in addition to other specific measures by sectors; the integration by public administrations of emission reductions and more efficient actions in the protection and management of the natural environment; and the adoption of measures for the integration of energy efficiency and climate change within the field of land management and planning, in construction and rehabilitation, as well as in the management of public infrastructure and equipment.    

Main novelties of the law

“The Energy Transition and Climate Change Law not only demonstrates a firm commitment of this Government to addressing the climate and energy crisis but also represents an opportunity to change course. For this reason, this law does not contemplate a sanctioning regime, as there are already other regulations in place to address this, such as environmental administration laws or the laws on the conservation of the Basque Country´s Natural Heritage, among others," emphasized Tapia. "What the law does include is the use of taxation, providing fiscal incentives for actions that promote climate change adaptation or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," added the councillor.

In addition, the approved text includes the following initiatives: