February 20, 2019 / 2:38 PM / 10 months ago

Spain proposes $53 billion public investment in climate change plan

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Socialist government announced a 47 billion euro (£40.66 billion) public investment plan on Wednesday to tackle climate change over 10 years, which would be partly financed by issuing green bonds.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gestures during a news conference after an extraordinary cabinet meeting in Madrid, Spain, February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina

The proposal, which sets a goal to make Spain carbon neutral by 2050, is a statement of intent as the government faces a general election on April 28.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the plan would also be partly financed by EU funds but did not give details.

The draft package includes a plan to offset job losses in polluting industries.

“We aren’t proposing anything fanciful,” Sanchez told a news conference at the energy and environment ministry, which he merged when he took power in June.

“It’s necessary and moreover it’s possible,” he added.

As well as a draft law, the package includes a delayed national plan to combat climate change, which is due to be approved at a cabinet meeting on Feb. 22 and sent to the European Union for its sign-off.

While there is probably time for the plan to be sent to Brussels, April’s snap election makes it unlikely the draft bill will be approved under the current government.

The government will set out a calendar of capacity auctions to work toward a target of producing 74 percent of Spain’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050, it said in a statement.

European Union climate chief Miguel Arias Canete has called on Europe to cut net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

Overall, Spain’s plan will generate investment worth 200 billion euros, the government said, and should cut its reliance on imported energy to 59 percent from 74 percent over the decade.

This would help the state save 75.4 billion euros in fossil fuel costs over the next 10 years, it said.

Sanchez’s Socialists are leading in opinion polls ahead of the election but the polls forecast the party will fall well short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament.

Reporting by Jose Elias Rodriguez and Isla Binnie; Additional reporting by Rodrigo de Miguel; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Susan Fenton

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