EU rules limit populists’ damage to climate action in Spain

(Clean Energy Wire, 14 May 2024) The impact of a populist party opposed to climate action is starting to make itself clearly felt in Spain. From climate budget cuts to suspending low-emission zones and reversing plans for green taxes: As a partner in several city and regional governments, the country’s leading far-right party, Vox, can apply the brakes to all manner of policies aiming for emission cuts, even though it is not part of a national government. But – for now – Vox’s ability to harm the fight against climate change is limited by national and EU legislation, analysts and activists say.

Vox, Spain's leading populist, far-right party, doesn’t mince its words. It has called climate change "a scam", and described policies to combat its worst effects "a new religion with new commandments"designed to "tell us how we have to live”. The party says that environmentalist elites and Brussels bureaucrats would threaten the sovereignty and freedom of the Spanish people. These elites would use "a climate emergency as an excuse to destroy what little is left of our national industry”, said the party's leader Santiago Abascal. 

Vox's most recent electoral programme – for the general elections in July 2023 – includes proposals to repeal the climate change act, continue exploiting fossil fuels, reverse the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035, pull Spain out of the Paris Agreement, and suspend the European Green Deal.

Vox has so far not been in a position to turn words into action at the national level. It has failed to become part of the country's central government, and remained isolated in its opposition to the climate change act in national parliament.

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Clean Energy Wire, 14 May 2024: EU rules limit populists’ damage to climate action in Spain