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Sound and independent information
on the environment


Climate change mitigation (Spain)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Spain is highly vulnerable to climate change, a threat that can seriously affect the availability of water resources, biodiversity and natural ecosystems, erosion, declining state of coasts and human health linked to rising temperatures and extreme weather events.

Responses to climate change focus on two major challenges:

  • Climate change mitigation: Achieved by halting the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by reducing emissions and capturing emitted gases in sinks.
  • Climate change adaptation: Achieved by minimising the associated hazards and impacts.

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

The key drivers that are related to Spain's contribution to global GHG emissions are a significant population growth and an accelerated process of economic and social development in the country in recent years. As a result of these, the following drivers having a pressure on GHG emissions have also been identified: energy consumption, electricity generation and transport demand.


Final energy consumption by sector

A steady growth in energy consumption has been recorded since 1990, though in 2007 there were a trend change. In 2009 final energy consumption in Spain was 97,776 ktoe, 7.4 % lower than in 2008.

Change in energy consumption


It should be noted that the significant improvement that has been recorded in energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of GDP) between 2004 and 2009 (-14.5 %), can be ascribed to energy efficiency policies and to the increased renewable energy sources in the energy system.

Electricity generation and renewable energy

The trend in energy generation in Spain is characterised by a decrease in the use of coal, oil and nuclear energy and by a rise in the use of natural gas and renewable sources. Electricity generated from renewable sources exceeded electricity produced by nuclear power in 2007 and overtook electricity generated from coal in 2008. In 2009, renewable energy accounted for 24.7 % of the electricity generated in Spain.

Spain has heavily committed to a policy of renewable energy projects and by 2010 the share of renewable in the country is expected to be 12 % of final energy and 30 % of electricity generation, and by 2020, 22 % and 42 % respectively.


Electricity generation.



Transport accounts near of 40 % of the total national energy consumption and is one of the main drivers of growth in GHG emissions. Characterised by a modal imbalance, with predominance of road transport (90 % in passenger transport and 83 % in freight transport in 2008) and by the strong demand growth in recent years, transport increase has been favoured by  the recorded both  population and economy growths. This has led to an intercity passenger transport raise of 94.4 % and also to an increase in transport freight by 86.5 % between 1990 and 2008.


Freight transport
Passenger transport

Total GHG emissions


GHG emission


GHG emissions in Spain have seen a significant growth in recent years, in a context of major economic expansion, with increases in GDP above the European average which overflowed the projections made. However, in the last five years there has been a period of stabilisation, and even of decline in 2008, reaching a total of 405,740 kt CO2-eq (+40 % compared to the base year of the Kyoto Protocol), 7.5 % below the previous year. For 2009 the forecast is a further reduction, overcoming +28.5 % from base year of Kyoto.

The pollutant split reveals that, in 2008, CO2 accounted for 83.2 % of total emissions. It was followed in terms of volume by CH4 with 8.9 % and N2O with 6.2 %. Fluorinated gases contributed just 1.7 % of the total.



  • In 2008, Spain accounted for 8.2 % of the EU-27 total GHG emissions and was the fifth-biggest contributor.

  • GHG emissions per inhabitant stood at 8.96 t of CO2-eq in 2008, which positioned Spain 19th in the EU-27 ranking. This figure is below the EU-27 and EU-15 averages (9.92 t of CO2-eq/inhab in the EU-27 and 10.07 t of CO2-eq/inhab. in the EU-15).

  • In 2008, Spain was also positioned 18th in the EU-27 in terms of emissions intensity (measured as the ratio between GHG emissions and GDP): for each unit of GDP (each euro produced), Spain emitted 373 g of CO2-eq. For each unit of GDP produced in the EU-27, 395 g of CO2-eq were emitted, while in the EU-15 this volume stood at345 g of CO2-eq.

Source: EEA greenhouse gas data viewer (


GHG emissions by sector

Energy processing (including transport) generates a significant proportion of emissions, followed by agriculture, industrial processes, waste treatment and disposal and, finally, solvent use. The contribution made by energy processing and waste treatment has increased since 1990, while that made by the other sectors has stabilised or diminished.

GHG emission by sector




The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

The table below summarises greenhouse gas emission projections and their growth over the base year of the Kyoto Protocol. It presents three different emission projection scenarios — baseline (without measures), base (with measures) and target (with additional measures). Compliance with the second scenario and the emission data estimated for 2008 indicate Spain will meet the path of compliance with established objectives: increase in GHG emissions in the period of 2008-2012 less than 37 %, to reach +15 % set by the Protocol, +2 % by sinks and the rest (20 %) using the flexibility mechanisms (the acquisition of carbon credits).

GHG projections table

The national emission projections built up on emission inventory 1990-2007 have been provisionally updated (please note this provisional update does not constitute a new official edition) taking into account the methodological improvements incorporated into emission inventory 1990-2008. According to this update, expected 2008–2012 average annual emissions are 32.81% above the base year of KP.

The graph below shows emission projections for the three scenarios defined above and the target. It should be noted that the projections are based on the 1990–2007 data series and do not reflect the fall in emissions recorded in the 1990–2008 series.

GHG Projections




Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Spanish Climate Change and Clean Energy Strategy, Horizon 2007–2012–2020 (EECCEL) sets the framework that gives stability and coherence to national, regional and local policies on climate change in the medium and long term. It is the starting point to develop the different planning instruments, such as:

  • Plan of Urgent Measures
  • National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change
  • National Allocation Plans 2005-2007 and 2008-2012
  • Strategic Lines to Fight Climate Change
  • Plans and Strategies of the Autonomous Communities
  • Plans and sectoral strategies, such as the Strategy for Energy Saving and Efficiency in Spain and its Plans of Action and Activation, Renewable Energy Plans, the Spanish Strategy for Sustainable Mobility, the Electric Vehicle Comprehensive Strategy, the National Comprehensive Plan Waste or Purines biodigestion Plan


These plans and strategies are supported by legal instruments such as the Law 1/2005, which regulates the regime of emissions trading or the recent draft of Sustainable Economy Act (now in the Parliament for discussion).





The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
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1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100