Teresa Ribera’s Solutions

Teresa Ribera Climate Leader
Teresa Ribera

Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan

Among the policies at the forefront of her actions, the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) is arguably one of the most important of her career. The PNIEC sets ambitious climate and energy objectives, aiming for a 32% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, a 48% share of renewables in final energy consumption, and a 44% improvement in energy efficiency. The plan also aims to contribute to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as to enhance the country’s efforts to curb the impact of global warming and modernise the economy. The number of planned energy policies and measures has increased, with specific actions introduced for areas like railways, aviation, rural development, and cybersecurity, among others.

The PNIEC also sets its focus on decarbonisation and the increase of the share of renewable sources in the Spanish electricity sector. By 2018, Spain’s share of renewables in total energy consumption (17%) was slightly higher than the rest of the IEA’s median of 16%.  Along with this, it also enables various sectors of Spanish society to recognise and evaluate the impact that climate change may have on their livelihoods, along with encouragement for them to adapt to climate change. Another socioeconomic impact is its estimated mobilisation of €294 billion in investment, with 85% coming from private sources, and the projection to create 522,000 jobs by 2030, respectively. This employment impact aims to reach various economic sectors, including industry, energy, and construction, leading to increased job opportunities and economic growth.

Guaranteeing successful coordination during its implementation can also be identified as one of the objectives —or challenges— of the plan, building towards strengthening the link with the Spanish urban agenda and integrating climate change adaptation into urban planning. The involvement of various stakeholders and private actors presents hurdles to overcome, as different interests and priorities may influence the application of the policies. 

The plan’s success also relies on effective coordination between the central and regional governments to prevent bureaucratic obstacles from hindering policy implementation. These interested parties (such as regional strongholds of PP), may or may not choose to adapt to these policies based on their own, and their electorate’s, interest. In the past, some bureaucratic blocks have affected the creation of projects such as renewable parks and the phasing out of nuclear energy.

Despite these challenges, the PNIEC has made considerable progress and set Spain on the right track towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient future. With continued dedication, collaboration, and support from all relevant parties, this plan has the potential to make a significant and lasting impact, not only on the Spanish energy sector but also on the global fight against climate change. 

National Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2021-2030 (PNACC) is a fundamental planning instrument aimed at promoting coordinated and coherent action to address the impacts of climate change in Spain. While respecting the roles of various Public Administrations, the PNACC establishes objectives, criteria, work areas, and lines of action to foster adaptation and resilience to climate change. Teresa Ribera’s Ministry draws attention to promoting coordinated action in order to prevent, or reduce, present and future damages caused by climate change, all while building a more resilient economy and society. 

The plan has a strong emphasis on guiding principles for adaptation policies and measures, such as considering social and territorial dimensions, relying on the best available science and knowledge, ensuring cross-sectoral integration, and promoting institutional cooperation. It also highlights universal principles like respecting human rights and intergenerational justice. To facilitate effective adaptation initiatives, the PNACC identifies four strategic components: knowledge generation, integration of adaptation into sectoral plans, programs, and regulations, mobilisation of stakeholders, and monitoring and evaluation.

The PNACC’s extensive reach outlines 18 work areas with specific objectives for each, including climate scenarios, human health, water resources, natural heritage, agriculture, fisheries, coastal and marine environments, forestry, urban development, cultural heritage, energy, mobility, industry, tourism, finance, disaster risk reduction, research, education, society, peace, security, and social cohesion. For each work area, the plan defines lines of action while indicators are set for future evaluation of progress.

Additionally, the PNACC includes seven cross-cutting aspects, such as analysing vulnerability’s geographic and social components, addressing transboundary effects, considering gender perspectives, preventing maladaptation and perverse incentives, analysing costs and benefits of action and inaction, and fostering an action-oriented approach. The PNACC aims to provide a comprehensive framework for adapting to climate change and building resilience across various sectors and areas of governance in Spain.

Ribera expects the plan to contribute to “generating a more resilient primary sector, cohesion and structuring the rural environment, preparing for higher quality tourism, creating safer infrastructures and recovering biodiversity, among other issues”.

Spanish Hydrogen Roadmap

Along with these, another solution that Teresa Ribera’s ministry is implementing is the Spanish Hydrogen Roadmap. As the name suggests, this policy has a special emphasis on green hydrogen, which seems to be offering positive results, in addition to the special financial interest it is generating. Among the examples of successful programs, one can find the construction of a green hydrogen plant in the town of Puertollano, currently the largest European plant. In addition, 17 Spanish Autonomous communities that have presented hydrogen plans seem to show effective progress in this regard. 

The specifics of the policy include new frameworks in order to prioritise and effectively deploy projects regarding renewable hydrogen protection. It also emphasises the recognition of renewable hydrogen as a valuable energy source and looks at it as a resource for decarbonization, especially in sectors such as long-distance transportation and aviation. 

This roadmap also targets specific Industries that have been using hydrogen as raw material production, such as oil refining and fertilisers. The policy is also effective in the sense that it can serve as an alternative in areas where electrification is not possible or is not the perfect solution, such as in public transportation. Teresa Ribera’s Ministry has also opened a range of support for innovation projects regarding electrization projects, such as the demonstration of hydrogen vehicles and experimental research in this regard. 

Last, it is also worth mentioning the “H2 pioneers” program for fostering unique renewable hydrogen with commercial viability for local production and consumption in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize. Overall, the plan offers a positive outlook as it shows that the Spanish industry may transition into a more sustainable environment while not affecting the sectors of society locally nor hampering industries and their livelihoods. 

These policies are pursued and implemented with the support of the European Union and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In this regard, these policies are expected to increase Spain’s prestige in the European Union not just on a regional level but also as an international actor. Spain’s “Green Transformation”  may turn the country into a role model for sustainable development, at the same time that it might boost Teresa Ribera´s image personally as a capable leader. As such, her position within Pedro Sanchez’s cabinet could also be strengthened. This may lead to better prospects in the future, as it can transform into an interconnection with countries like France and the rest of Europe, which could in turn improve Spain’s sphere of influence in this region. 

Nonetheless, a roadblock in Teresa Ribera’s attempt to pursue these solutions is the aforementioned Spanish bureaucratic division and opposition.  The main trend in Ribera’s opposition is currently dominated by the agricultural sector (notably those who specialised in rice, cereal and rain-dependent crops) which is being burdened by the intense episodes of drought and that, at the same time, does not show a willingness to work towards a green future until their livelihoods are secured. 

Furthermore, when switching to more clean energy resources, the prospect of denuclearisation (or reducing the dependency on nuclear energy) is hampered by the right-wing party, the Partido Popular, which is particularly optimistic regarding the reliance on nuclear energy. As such, the National Climate Plan may not reach all sectors of society, especially the industries and political factions that have a positive sentiment about nuclear energy, rendering her plan incomplete, especially during the election process

IExRAIA Summer Research Program:

This article is an excerpt from a report on Teresa Ribera produced as part of an RAIA research program on climate leaders. For a full picture of Teresa Ribera’s climate leadership read the full report. This project was fully financed by IE University’s School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs.

Authors: Ajinkya Deshpande & Valeria Eggers

Editor: Alberto Campos Moya

Project Lead: Joshua Dario Hasenstab


The shared Account of RAIA members and Alumni