With the New Climate Change Strategy for the year 2050, the Basque Country is designing its contribution to the global fight against climate change. In the first draft of the strategy, the Basque Country signs up for a major effort to emissions mitigation: 60% in 2050, compared to 1990. The objective falls within the logic of the Basque Country’s trajectory in climate policy (Basque Plan to Fight Climate Change 2008-2012) and is consistent with the commitments and guidelines emanating from the Union European Union that assumes an important global leadership in this field (40% reduction in 2030 compared to 1990 in a reference scenario to reach 80% in 2050). In this way, moreover, the Basque Country assumes, as it could not be otherwise, the responsibility that falls to it within the framework of a problem of a global nature of which it is a responsible part -in a very small proportion, of course- as an emitter of gases greenhouse effect to the atmosphere.
For this reason, there is no point in questioning the objective – there is simply not much room for maneuver -, but it can be useful to reflect on the economic and social implications of this policy. I have already made some reflections on the health benefits (here a>), but today I will focus on the challenges for companies.
The price of greenhouse gas emissions will continue to be incorporated in Europe mainly through the Community Emission Rights Trading Scheme (RCCDE) that will necessarily have to be much more restrictive in the allocation of the maximum levels of global emissions “cap” so that it really offers the desired effects. Other complementary instruments, such as environmental rates and taxes in diffuse sectors and strict limitations on behaviors that do not go in the direction sought (tolls, restrictions on driving in private vehicles, limitations on parking, etc.) will also be necessary to achieve the objectives ambitious goals pursued.
As no one is aware, these are very “painful” measures for our industry, both in the energy sector itself (electricity generation through the combustion of natural gas), and in the most important manufacturing sectors with very intensive production processes. in energy such as metallurgy and the transformation of metals, cement, glass, the chemical and petrochemical sector, food, among others), because they will have to bear additional costs in their tight production processes and could affect, if nothing changes , at its level of profitability and viability.
It is highly unlikely, however, that companies will not react to climate policy and continue to maintain their structural dependence on fossil fuels. The most plausible thing is that being aware of what is coming their way, they react with bold initiatives of eco-innovation and eco-design –changes and adaptation of raw materials, more efficient processes, incorporation of new energy sources and more commercialization policies. green- that completely change the landscape and offer as a final result a much more efficient productive fabric in real terms and capable of improving its competitive position in the most demanding environmentally-friendly markets.
Connecting some threads in an intelligent way, the scenario that results from climate policy goes even further and offers great opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs. To achieve the objective of limiting the increase in the planet’s temperature to 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, the developed countries and, in cascade, all the rest have an enormous task ahead of them: to multiply the implementation of renewables, advance in new sources of energy generation, making significant progress in the electrification of public transport -rail and especially highway- offering a place and a management model for the electric car so that it occupies a preferential place, promoting a radical change in electrical networks to enable further development of decentralized renewable sources, adapt and build carbon-neutral housing….
In the Basque Country, things have not gone badly so far and many companies have grown and globalized successfully, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by climate policy. CAF, Irizar and a wide range of suppliers of parts, equipment and components with the great development of public transport in the world; Iberdrola, Gamesa and Sener at the head of an entire industry that has positioned itself in the takeoff of renewables; Arteche, Velatia, ZIV and many others with the profound transformation of electrical systems.
Being an industrial country, therefore, more than an excuse to defend a lax climate policy, it must be an incentive to look with perspective and be at the forefront of it globally. The interests and even the long-term survival of Basque industry coincide with those of Basque society as a whole, which is committed to a transition towards a green, innovative and competitive economy. The approval of the Basque Climate Change Strategy is a great moment to join forces, align policies and add capacities, without letting ourselves be carried away by the miseries of the short term.