MADRID (Reuters) - Spain plans to give people grants to make their homes more environmentally-friendly, the prime minister said on Monday, a sign the government wants to push the green issue ahead of March’s general election.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Monday said the Socialist government would hand out 1 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in direct subsidies to renovate old, energy-inefficient homes in 2008-2012, 200 million euros more than previously announced.
It will also offer another 2 billion euros in credit every year to help Spaniards make their homes between 35 and 60 percent more energy efficient. Homeowners will receive an energy certificate to show that would boost the property’s value because energy bills would be cut, he said.
Zapatero has vowed to make the environment a priority in the next legislature if the Socialists win what is expected to be a tight election early next year.
“All the lights are flashing red. We are at the point of no return. I ask all citizens to act with urgency and to put this country at the forefront of the challenge to fight climate change,” Zapatero told a news conference in Madrid.
Zapatero said the cash injection would be enough to renovate 500,000 homes and mirrored an initiative by former U.S. President Bill Clinton to make old buildings more efficient.
Despite being a world leader in wind and solar power, Spain’s rapid economic expansion over the last 15 years has pushed it well wide of a Kyoto protocol target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The country’s carbon dioxide output in 2006 was 48 percent higher than in 1990. Its target was to check the rise to no more than 15 percent.
In July, Spain approved urgent measures to save the equivalent of 88 million tonnes of oil from 2008-2012 — 60 percent of Spain’s total primary energy consumption last year.
Zapatero also said the government would release 200 million euros to improve energy efficiency in schools and public buildings in towns and cities of more than 50,000 people.
Reporting by Ben Harding, Editing by Matthew Jones