Spain at last adopts promised law on becoming carbon neutral

MADRID — Spain’s parliament approved a law on climate change and energy transition Thursday that belatedly brings the country into line with the European Union’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The law stipulates a 23% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, though the goal will be reviewed in 2023 when officials hope to better that target.

Only the far-right Vox party voted against the law, which was overwhelmingly approved after being first proposed a decade ago. The biggest opposition party, the conservative Popular Party, abstained in a reflection of the political squabbling that has held up the law.

The Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, acknowledged that the legislation was “10 years overdue,” as other EU countries have already adopted broad legislation to fight climate change.

“This is a law our country needs and which has been postponed for too long,” Ribera told lawmakers. “There are threats and risks which don’t respect political colors.”

Ribera noted that measures taken in recent years are already helping Spain move toward carbon neutrality, including last year’s decision to retire coal-fired power plants by 2025.

Spain plans to phase out combustion engine vehicles by limiting new car sales to electric vehicles by 2040. Fossil fuel mining is to be banned, too.

The law passed Thursday requires cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants to introduce low carbon emission zones.

The government hopes its climate policies will create 250,000 jobs a year through 2030.

Last month, the EU reached a tentative climate deal to put the 27-nation bloc on a path to being climate neutral by 2050.

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