The Environment and Climate Change Law Review: Spain


The 2021 main highlights regarding environmental matters can be summarised as follows:

  1. Law 7/2021 of 20 May 2021 on Climate Change and Energy Transition has been passed and is already in force. The main purpose of this law is to ensure that Spain complies with the objectives of the Paris Agreement;
  2. Law 1/2005 governing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading scheme has been amended for the 2021–2030 emissions trading period. Within the scope of the amendments, proceedings to adjust the number of free allowances or require their return when relevant changes in the level of activity of installations concur have been introduced; and
  3. a bill on Waste and Polluted Soils, which aims to fulfil the objectives set out by the Circular Economy Package Directives, is currently being processed. This bill is expected to enter into force in 2022.

In addition to these new regulations, within the framework of the EU Next Generation Plan, plans, programmes and projects aimed at an environmentally sustainable and carbon-neutral economy are expected to be fostered and accelerated.2

Legislative framework

Spanish environmental law is governed primarily by the 1978 Constitution. Article 45 sets the right to enjoy an adequate environment for the development of the people and the duty to preserve the environment. Article 45 also draws a distinction between three different areas of environmental responsibility: administrative, civil and criminal liability.

The mandates of the Constitution are implemented by laws and those, in turn, are complemented by regulations.

The main national environmental regulations, most of which implement EU directives, are the following:

  1. Law 22/1988 on coasts, which aims to protect the maritime-terrestrial public domain (e.g., by submitting to prior concession or authorisation certain activities and establishing easements and limitations to the ownership of land near the public domain);
  2. Royal Legislative Decree 1/2001 on water, which aims to protect the hydraulic public domain by submitting to previous concession or authorisation certain activities, and establishing easements and limitations on the ownership of land near the public domain;
  3. Law 1/2005 governing the GHG emissions trading scheme;
  4. Law 27/2006 on the Right to Have Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, which allows access to environmental information at the disposal of the public authorities as well as participation in the public decisions on environmental matters and the possibility of requesting the judicial review of public acts or omissions that may constitute environmental offences;
  5. Law 26/2007 on Environmental Liability, which imposes the obligation to foresee, prevent and restore environmental damage in accordance with the precautionary principle and 'polluter pays' principle;
  6. Law 34/2007 on Air Quality and Atmospheric Environment Protection, which aims to establish the basic rules to prevent, monitor and reduce air pollution to minimise damage to people and the environment;
  7. Law 42/2007 on Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, which establishes five basic types of protected natural spaces: parks, natural reserves, natural monuments, protected landscapes and protected marine areas, each with specific protection measures. In addition, according to European regulations and international treaties, other types of areas are protected in Spain. This is the case, for instance, for sites of community importance and special conservation areas. This law also governs the protection of wild flora and fauna species. As a general rule, activities in any environmental protected area are restricted and only authorised when their compatibility with the environmental values is assured;
  8. Law 22/2011 on Waste and Polluted Soils, which aims to prevent the generation of waste and, where this is not possible, minimise the adverse effects on human health and the environment deriving from waste production and treatment. This law also has articles specifically devoted to tackling soil pollution;
  9. Law 21/2013 on Environmental Assessment, which unifies under a single act the provisions related both to the environmental assessment of projects and of plans and programmes. Environmental assessments are not authorisations but it is a prior and binding requirement to obtain a certain authorisation or to issue a certain resolution. Authorisations or resolutions are null and void if the required environmental assessment was not conducted at all or was conducted in a defective manner; and
  10. Royal Legislative Decree 1/2016 on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, which applies to certain industries as listed in Annex I, such as certain combustion and chemical or waste management industries. It provides for a proceeding that incorporates the most relevant environmental permits and other administrative steps in a single authorisation: the integrated environmental authorisation. The main aspects covered by this authorisation are air and water emissions, production and management of waste and environmental impact assessments.

In addition to the above administrative rules, the Spanish Criminal and Civil Codes must be taken into consideration. The Criminal Code includes a wide range of environmental offences, and the Civil Code includes general civil rules that may apply to tort, contractual liability and ownership in relation to environmental matters.

However, autonomous regions may enact laws and regulations of their own on environmental matters provided that they do not reduce the level of environmental protection established by the national rules. Furthermore, municipalities may issue environmental regulations, which must always respect national and regional laws.

These environmental rules are further complemented by international environmental treaties, such as:

  1. the Convention on Wetlands, Ramsar, 1971;
  2. the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, London, 1973;
  3. the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Washington, DC, 1973;
  4. the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution, Barcelona, 1976;
  5. the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Berne, 1979;
  6. the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, Montego Bay, 1982;
  7. the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal 1989;
  8. the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), New York, 1992; and
  9. the Paris Agreement under the 21st Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 12 December 2015.

International treaties are binding in Spain when they are published in the Official Gazette. Unless otherwise indicated, reference is made to national rules only in this chapter.

The regulators

As stated, powers on environmental matters in Spain are shared between the state, the autonomous regions and the municipalities as follows:

  1. the state has the power to enact basic environmental legislation and to control (e.g., by granting authorisations or sanctioning) certain specific environmental areas, namely those concerning rivers when affecting more than one autonomous region, certain aspects of the GHG emissions regime and environmental assessments related to certain specific projects. The state powers are generally executed through the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge;
  2. the autonomous regions may issue rules for stricter environmental protection on top of the national legislation. In addition, they have the power to control most of the environmental areas, such as integrated environmental authorisations, waste or air emissions. Regional powers are exercised through the environmental department of the government of the autonomous regions; and
  3. municipalities' environmental powers mainly relate to local environmental permits, urban waste, air quality and noise limits. As previously indicated, city councils must respect national and regional laws when approving their own regulations.

Administrative resolutions (whether national, regional or municipal) may be appealed before the administration and before courts.

In cases in which there is a higher administrative authority than the one that issued the administrative resolution, it is necessary to file an administrative appeal before going to court so that the higher authority can decide on the administrative appeal. If no higher authority exists, it is possible (but not compulsory) to appeal before the same authority that issued the resolution before going to court.

Courts may confirm or quash any administrative resolution if appealed. Upon request, courts may suspend the administrative resolutions challenged, provided that the execution of the resolution could cause serious damage. If the suspension is granted, the issuance of guarantees could be imposed to ensure the protection of the interests of those affected.


Different types of liabilities may derive from environmental regulations.

i Environmental liablity

Environmental liability is a quasi-objective liability that may arise if a damage or risk of damage to the environment is caused by an activity. Operators of activities would have the obligation to foresee, prevent and restore environmental damage in accordance with the precautionary and 'polluter pays' principle. For these obligations to be applicable, it is not required that the operator breaches environmental regulations or commits an administrative infringement.

ii Administrative sanctioning liability

Administrative sanctioning liability arises when an administrative offence is committed. A sanctioning administrative procedure must be processed in order to assess whether the offence has been actually committed and what sanctions are to be imposed. The potential offender will have the right to be heard and file allegations within the administrative proceeding. Fines could be imposed as well as other measures, such as the suspension of the activity, closure of the premises or disqualification. Sanctions may be appealed as indicated in Section III.

In addition to the sanctions, offenders may be obliged to restore things to their prior state.

Except as otherwise specified, the general limitation period for environmental administrative offences is three years for very serious offences, two years for serious offences and six months for minor offences.

iii Criminal liability

The Spanish Criminal Code devotes an entire section (Title XVI), plus some other articles (e.g., Articles 343 and 345) to crimes concerning the protection of national heritage and the environment. Among other penalties, sanctions may entail imprisonment, fines or disqualification.

For an action or omission to be deemed a criminal offence, it must be proven that the defendant acted either negligently – if the Criminal Code expressly punishes negligent commission of said crime – or intentionally. Spanish case law has broadened the concept of 'intention' or 'purpose' so that it also comprises recklessness (i.e., consciously disregarding a high risk of criminal offence) and in certain cases 'wilful blindness' (i.e., intentionally refusing to know the circumstances of a criminal offence that is being committed within one's area of competence, despite knowing that said criminal offence is taking place).

Legal entities may also be held criminally liable. This liability is not alternative but cumulative to that of the individuals who have committed the criminal offence.

To prevent the criminal liability of legal entities, the Criminal Code includes a specific exonerating circumstance: the establishment of compliance programmes ('organisation and management models'). These compliance programmes must be both approved and implemented to constitute a valid exonerating circumstance.

The basic environmental crime is regulated by Article 325 of the Criminal Code as follows: anyone who in breach of an environmental rule directly or indirectly causes or makes emissions, spillages, radiation, extractions or excavations, filling with earth, noises, vibrations, injections or deposits, in the atmosphere, the ground, the subsoil or the surface water, ground water or sea water, including the high seas, even those affecting cross-border spaces, as well as the water catchment basins, that solely or in conjunction with others cause or may cause substantial damage to the quality of the air, soil, water, animals or plants may be sanctioned with imprisonment of up to two years, a fine of up to 14 months3 and disqualification of up to two years (Article 325.1).

If the aforementioned conduct may cause serious damage to the balance of the natural systems, it may be sanctioned more severely with imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to 24 months and disqualification of up to three years (Article 325.2).

iv Civil liability

In Spain, civil provisions do not protect the environment itself but they provide for the obligation to restore or indemnify the damage caused to a third private party as a consequence of an environmental damage. It is an independent liability from those mentioned above, and therefore applies irrespective of, and in addition to, criminal liability or administrative sanctions. The general limitation period is one year for tort actions, and five years if there is a contract between the parties.

Reporting and disclosure

Operators whose activities can affect the environment are usually subject to periodic monitoring and reporting obligations as provided for in the applicable laws or in their permits.

For instance, integrated environmental authorisations must include periodic reporting obligations as well as the obligation to report immediately to the authorities any incident or accident that may affect the environment.

Furthermore, Law 21/2013 on environmental assessment includes the obligation to carry out monitoring plans, the result of which must be handed over to the authorities. Similarly, Law 26/2007 imposes on operators the obligation to immediately notify to the authorities any environmental damage or imminent threat thereof caused by them.

Failure to comply with these obligations may lead to administrative liability.

Companies have also obligations on information disclosure in their financial reports as to environmental matters. Rules in this regard are set by Law 22/2015 on Account Auditing, Royal Decree 1514/2007, which enacts the General Accounting Plan, Resolution of 25 March 2002 of the Institute on Accountability and Account Auditing, and Law 11/2018, of 28 December 2018, which modified several regulations, including the Code of Commerce. Financial statements must include a specific chapter containing environmental information, such as expenditure incurred in environmental protection, environmental risks assured and pending judicial proceedings affecting the company, contingencies or investment owing to environmental reasons.

Article 32 of Law 7/2021 on Climate Change establishes the obligation of listed companies, credit entities or insurance companies, among others, to include in their management annual report an analysis on the financial impact of the risks associated with climate change generated by the exposure of their activity to climate change, including the risks of the transition to a sustainable economy and the measures taken to address these risks.

In addition, EU Regulation 2019/2088 (applicable as from 10 March 2021) requires financial market participants to disclose to investors how they consider sustainability objectives. In parallel, from 2023, credit entities will have to publish decarbonisation objectives for their investment and loan portfolios.

In relation to the protection for whistleblowers, Article 62.4 of Law 39/2015 states that the authorities must exempt from administrative sanctions the first complainant participating in the commission of an offence provided that:

  1. the whistleblower gives evidence of the offence that allows to confirm it or to initiate sanctioning proceedings against the rest of the offenders;
  2. the authorities did not have grounds enough to initiate the sanctioning proceedings at the time of the complaint; and
  3. the damage is repaired.

If the aforementioned requirements are not fully met, the authorities must reduce the sanctions to be imposed if the whistleblower provides evidence that implies a significant added value to the evidence that the authorities had.

In either case, protected whistleblowers must cease their participation in the offence and must not have destroyed any evidence related to the offence.

Currently, it remains unclear how the authorities and courts will apply Article 62.4. Given its ambiguous wording in relevant elements, it may be anticipated that this Article will have a limited application.

There is no similar protection for whistleblowers regarding criminal offences.

Environmental protection

i Air quality

Law 34/2007 on Air Quality and Atmospheric Environment Protection governs the activities considered as potentially pollutant of the atmosphere. This law:

  1. identifies the polluting substances that must be subject to certain emission limits;
  2. imposes that certain activities must obtain a previous air emission authorisation (labelled as A or B) or require a previous communication (labelled as C); and
  3. imposes additional obligations such as self-control and keeping an official registry book on air emissions.

The air emission limit values are established by the regional authorities taking into account:

  1. the implementation of best available techniques or other appropriate measures to prevent air pollution;
  2. technical characteristics of the installation, location and local environmental conditions;
  3. air emissions' nature, potential to transfer pollution from one medium to another and incidence for people and the environment;
  4. plans or programmes regarding air quality or gas emission reduction; and
  5. air emission limit values imposed by laws and regulations or international treaties of which Spain is party (Article 5 of Royal Decree 100/2011).

Implementing rules govern specific activities or pollutants. For instance, large combustion plants are subject to certain specific conditions under Royal Decree 815/2013 on industrial emissions and in Royal Decree 430/2004 establishing new regulations on limitations of atmospheric emissions from large combustion plants, whereas medium combustion plants are subject to Royal Decree 1042/2017 on industrial emissions.

ii Water quality

Royal Legislative Decree 1/2001 on Water governs fresh water and its associated land (the hydraulic public domain). Under this rule, the use of water for private purposes is subject to obtaining a concession granted by the Basin Authority. Other activities, such as the use of the river bed or the discharge of wastewater, require an authorisation also granted by the Basin Authority.

Law 22/1988 on Coasts, which governs seawater and its associated land (the maritime-terrestrial public domain), follows a similar structure. Thus, the use of, occupation of or works on the maritime-terrestrial public domain are subject to authorisation or concession. In addition, discharges from land into the sea require previous authorisation. Law 22/1988 is completed by Law 41/2010 on the protection of the maritime environment that governs the planning, conservation, protection and improvement of the environmental status of the maritime environment.

To better protect both hydraulic and maritime-terrestrial public domain, easements and limitations are imposed on the ownership of adjacent plots. Planning is also key for achieving an appropriate level of protection:

  1. regarding hydraulic public domain, each basin has its own plans aimed to, inter alia, achieve good water conditions and adequately protect the water resources, satisfy water demands, achieve a balanced and harmonised regional and sectorial development, increase the availability of the resource, protect its quality and reduce the cost of its use; and
  2. regarding the maritime-terrestrial public domain, Law 41/2010 on the protection of the maritime environment sets out the obligation to draft specific strategic plans for each maritime area. The plans for each of the five Spanish maritime areas were approved by Royal Decree 1365/2018.

Furthermore, granting intake concessions or discharge authorisation from the hydraulic public domain is based on the environmental status of the medium and the compatibility between the water intake or discharge and environmental sustainability. To determine both, the content of the specific basin plan applicable is key.

Regarding water discharges, as it is difficult to determine some unique maximum limits of general applicability, the discharge limit values applicable are set out in accordance with the specific circumstances at stake. Among those circumstances to be considered is the content of the specific plan applicable, which usually includes maximum discharge limit values or quality objectives, as well as the specific characteristics of the discharge to be authorised (e.g., location, pollutants or quantity).

Similar considerations are applicable when granting discharge authorisations to the maritime public domain. On the basis of the quality objectives applicable and the specific characteristics of the discharge, applications for discharges into maritime public domain authorisations may be rejected or limited to guarantee that no significant environmental alteration is caused (Article 57.3, Law 22/1988).

iii Chemicals

The main Spanish provisions on chemicals, similar to most environmental legislation in Spain, come from EU rules. Indeed, one of the outstanding rules on chemicals is EU Regulation 1907/2006 on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. This regulation sets out specific duties and obligations (e.g., registration of substances and uses with the European Chemicals Agency) on manufacturers, importers and downstream users of substances on their own, in preparations and in articles. In addition, EU Regulation 1272/2008 governs the classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and preparations.

The national Law 8/2010 sets out the penalties applicable for any infringement of EU Regulations 1907/2006 and 1272/2008. As a complement, Royal Decrees 255/2003 and 363/1995 govern certain specific aspects on the classification, labelling and packaging of hazardous substances and preparations.

Furthermore, Royal Decree 840/2015 on risk control for serious accidents where hazardous substances are involved, requires notification for the installation of activities that use certain hazardous substances and subjects those installations to several preventive conditions, such as the preparation of preventive policy plans, security reports or emergency plans. Depending on the existing quantity of dangerous substances, the facilities are classified as low- or high-risk facilities. High-risk facilities are subject to stricter obligations and requirements.

iv Solid and hazardous waste

Law 22/2011 defines waste as any substance that the possessor disposes of or has the intention or obligation to do so. The law includes definitions of different types of waste, such as hazardous, domestic, commercial, industrial or biowaste.

Hazardous waste is that which has a hazardous characteristic as listed in Annex III of Law 22/2011 and is considered as such by EU, national or regional regulations. The treatment of hazardous waste is subject to specific authorisations and must meet special conditions of storage, labelling and packaging, as well as documentary obligations. In addition, the production of hazardous waste is subject to prior communication to the authorities or registration within the Hazardous Waste Small Producers Public Registry. Financial guarantees may be requested.

The collection of domestic waste is entrusted to the municipalities (as may be non-hazardous commercial waste), whereas producers of industrial waste have the obligation to hand it over to authorised waste managers and keep record of its proper delivery. Waste managers must obtain a previous authorisation and have financial guarantees.

Certain types of waste are also subject to specific regulations. This is the case, among others, for waste packages governed by Law 11/1997 and Royal Decree 782/1998, waste from electrical and electronic equipment governed by Royal Decree 110/2015, construction and demolition waste governed by Royal Decree 105/2008, oil waste governed by Royal Decree 679/2006 or waste batteries governed by Royal Decree 106/2008.

In addition, Spanish waste legislation includes the extended producer responsibility (i.e., the responsibility of the manufacturer of a product for its entire life cycle, and especially for its take-back, recycling and final disposal). Manufacturers may comply with these obligations on their own or collectively by means of an integrated management system, an organisation that assumes said obligations on behalf of all the adhering parties.

v Contaminated land

Law 22/2011 on Waste and Polluted Soils, and Royal Decree 9/2005 on the creation of a list of potentially land pollutant activities and the criteria to declare polluted soils, are the main rules governing soil pollution.

Operators of activities included in the list of potentially soil-polluting activities under Royal Decree 9/2005 that produce, handle or store more than 10 tonnes per year of certain substances such as hazardous substances, or that have a fuel tank for private use with an average yearly consumption higher than 300,000 litres and a total storage volume of 50,000 litres or higher, had to file a preliminary soil report before 7 February 2007.

Thereafter, in view of the content of this report, the authorities had the option to request more detailed information. Operators then must update the soil report periodically before the regional authorities – the regularity of this update is determined by each autonomous region – and, in any case, when installing, enlarging or closing the activity. Similarly, owners must prepare a soil report when changing the use of the land or applying for a permit for a different activity.

In addition, owners of soils in which potential soil-polluting activities are or have been carried out must disclose this circumstance in the public deed of transfer of rights over the soil in question.

As a general rule, regional authorities are the ones with the power to declare a soil as polluted. For this purpose, risk for human health or the environment taking into account the specific use of the land must exist. The criteria to be considered for this declaration are set forth by Royal Decree 9/2005, which differentiates among industrial, urban or other uses of the land.

The persons obliged to clean up the site – in the manner imposed by the authorities – are, in this order, the polluter, the owner of the polluted site and the possessor thereof.

The declaration of soil as polluted must be included within the Property Registry and can only be removed when the regional authorities confirm that the clean-up has been duly carried out, and that therefore there is no unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.

Climate change

Spain is a signatory party of the 1992 UNFCCC, which entered into force on 21 March 1994. In addition, on 22 April 2016, Spain signed the Paris Agreement resulting from the Paris Climate Conference, which sets out a global action plan to avoid dangerous climate change. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. The last United Nations annual Conference on Climate Change took place in Madrid in December 2019.

The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge is the administrative body that, at the national level, is responsible for the implementation and administration of climate change policies. Within that Ministry, certain subsidiary administrative bodies have been created with different responsibilities, such as the Spanish Climate Change Office, in charge of shaping the national climate change policy; the National Climate Commission, in charge of issuing recommendations in relation to climate change-related plans, programmes and lines of action; and the Climate Change Policies Coordination Committee, in charge of the coordination between the national and the regional authorities in this area. In addition, the autonomous regions have created specific bodies to implement policies on climate change within the scope of their powers.

The European Union has approved several regulations on climate change with the aim of obtaining a reduction of the GHG emissions of the Member States in an effective and efficient manner. One of the most important measures has been the implementation of an emissions trading system (ETS) that aims to reduce GHGs by means of setting a cap on the total amount that can be emitted by certain installations, a cap that is reduced over time so that total emissions decrease.

EU Directive 2003/87/EC (as subsequently amended) establishes a scheme for GHG emission allowance trading. This Directive has been implemented in Spain by means of Law 1/2005 (also amended several times to implement the amendments to the Directive), which applies to facilities included in Annex I that generate certain GHG emissions, and to certain aviation activities with origin or destination within the European Economic Area.

Directive (UE) 2018/410 regulating the 2021–2030 trading period has been officially transposed by Law 9/2020, amending Law 1/2005.

Facilities under Law 1/2005, amended by Law 9/2020, must obtain a specific authorisation for emitting GHGs, unless the facility is considered a small-scale installation. Regional authorities have the power to issue this authorisation. Any change in the nature, operating procedures or size of the facilities or any other change entailing a significant enlargement or reduction to the capacity of the facilities, as well as any change affecting the identity or domicile of the operator, must be notified.

Operators subject to Law 1/2005 must have an emission allowance per each equivalent tonne of carbon dioxide emitted from its facility (or aircraft). Emission allowances are transferrable and registered within the Spanish Section of the Union Registry.

Although auction remains the main method for the allocation of emissions allowances, free allocation allowances may be requested to the Climate Change Office in certain cases.

In this regard, facilities included in sectors exposed to a significant risk of 'carbon leaks' will be granted 100 per cent free allocations.

Other sectors that do not pose a significant risk of carbon leaks may also receive free allocations up to a maximum of 30 per cent, a percentage that will decrease by equal amounts after 2026 (except for district heating) with the aim of reaching a level of no free allocations in 2030. The rest of the required allowances must be acquired in the auctions.

Power generators and capture, transportation and geological storage of carbon installations do not receive any free allowances except for certain high-efficiency cogeneration and urban heating and certain waste gases combustion power generators.

Aviation is also subject to free allocation of allowances, as the number of allowances to be auctioned by Spain in each period shall be proportionate to its share of the total attributed aviation emissions for all Member States for the reference year, as reported and verified.

Activities emitting GHGs must send the regional authorities a verified report on GHG emissions of the previous year before 28 February each year. This report will be assessed by the authorities to verify (among other circumstances) that the operator has obtained all the required GHG emission allowances.

Furthermore, aviation operators must have a monitoring plan that includes certain measures to monitor and notify the data of their yearly emissions and tonne-kilometres transported. This monitoring plan must be approved by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

However, Law 7/2021 of 20 May 2021 on Climate Change and Energy Transition, directly tackles climate change. Its purpose is to ensure Spain's compliance with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to facilitate the decarbonisation of the Spanish economy and its transitions to a circular model. In this regard, Law 7/2021 establishes that by 2050 Spanish economy must be carbon neutral and it sets up the following targets for 2030:

  1. a 23 per cent reduction in GHG compared to 1990 levels;
  2. a 42 per cent of total energy consumption coming from renewable sources;
  3. 74 per cent of renewable energy in the electricity sector; and
  4. a 39.5 per cent improvement of energy efficiency.

Furthermore, Law 7/2021 on Climate Change has also forbidden the granting of new exploration, investigation or exploitation permits for hydrocarbons and has required the installation of electric recharging infrastructure to non-residential buildings with more than 20 parking spots or to certain gas stations. Moreover, several autonomous regions have also adopted regional laws on the matter.4

In addition to Law 1/2005 and Law 7/2021, other national rules on climate change have been passed on energy efficiency or carbon dioxide absorption.

Outlook and conclusions

Spain is aligned with the rest of the European countries in environment-related issues, both in terms of legislation and enforcement. There is a complete set of environmental legislation that covers a wide range of environmental areas with a reasonable level of enforcement. Moreover, recently the government has taken steps towards more intense climate change action, namely by means of the Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition, which shows Spain's commitment towards transitioning to a carbon neutral economy by 2050.


1 Jesús Sedano is counsel and Bárbara Fernández is a senior associate at Uría Menéndez.

2 An executive summary of the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan in English is available at

3 Criminal regulations calculate the total amount of the fine based on time, so a fine will be measured in days or months. According to the seriousness of the offence and the economic capacity of the offender, an amount per day will be established and the total fine will be a multiple of this and expressed in days or months.

4 For instance, Balearic Islands (Law 10/2019 of 22 February 2019, on Climate Change and Energy Transition), Andalusia (Law 8/2018, of 8 October 2018, on measures tackling climate change and on the transition to a new energy model in Andalusia) or Catalonia (Law 16/2017, of 1 August 2017, on Climate Change).

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