What is known about the subject?

Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects specific regions and requires the adoption of measures designed to mitigating Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and adapting populations and the environment, in an effort to address the climate emergency identified at different institutional levels. In this regard, the establishment of a legal framework forcing States and citizens to fight climate change is fundamental.


What does this study add to the existing literature?

This paper addresses the legal regime developed in Spain to combat climate change from a multilevel perspective, since the challenge posed by this phenomenon requires a legal response at the international level, but also an effective and sufficient regulatory development within each legal system. To this end, the article advocates for basic regulations, including the minimums, and providing the necessary space for the Autonomous Communities, as infra-state entities, to develop their own policy to fight climate change bearing in mind the territorial component of the latter, and the fact that all regulations should contribute to achieving the objectives set in terms of GHG reduction and decarbonisation of the economy.


What are the implications of the findings?

First of all the relevance of a decentralised territorial model such as that of Spain is undeniable, given the fact that it should contributes to a greater effectiveness of the actions set to achieve objectives to fight climate change and of energy transition. This phenomenon presents a complexity that also requires complex solutions, which in terms of regulations requires an alternative model of legislation and of relationship between the public administrations involved.

To this regard, the State Act 7/2021 of 20 May on Climate Change and Energy Transition provides an umbrella with room for regional actions, although it could have gone a step further. In addition, it is important to highlight the relevance of climate laws passed prior to the state regulation by the Autonomous Communities of Catalonia, Andalusia and the Balearic Islands (in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively), to the extent that they stand as a reference for subsequent laws passed in the Autonomous Communities of Navarre, Valencia and the Canary Islands. This body of legislation demonstrates the opportunity and convenience of having a sufficient regulatory framework for actions of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, including an array of essential techniques and measures.

Nevertheless, these regulatory frameworks are only a first or basic step in the shaping of regional policies in climate change with which to create a multilevel structure for combating this phenomenon. It is therefore necessary to deepen the mechanisms of cooperation between the State and the Autonomous Communities, and that once regulations are approved, they are effectively implemented by them, taking into account the peculiarities of the region.



Manuela Mora Ruiz
Full Professor of Administrative Law
University of Huelva