“In renewables there are more investments today in the US and China”, says Gonzalo Saenz de Miera, Director of Climate Change at Iberdrola, a world leader in renewables, in an interview with Energy Post. “Europe is losing its leadership.” Saenz de Miera calls for a binding target for 2050, not just 2030, and for it to be more ambitious than the current 80-95% greenhouse gas emission reduction. He also advocates “polluter pays” taxation that puts a heavier burden on transport. Iberdrola is not optimistic on power-to-gas and believes gas is “niche and replaceable”.
Iberdrola is one of the world’s largest electricity utilities and a leader in renewables. It has almost 30GW of installed renewables capacity and leads the world on wind. Its emissions are about a third lower than the European electricity sector average. Since the economic crisis, Iberdrola has focused on five markets: Spain (its home market), the UK, the US, Mexico and Brazil.
On 23 April, Iberdrola’s Director of Climate Change Gonzalo Saenz de Miera came to Brussels to make the case for a more ambitious European climate policy. The company wants the EU to set a binding target for 2050, not just 2030, and for it to be more ambitious than the current 80-95% greenhouse gas emission reduction committed to by heads of state and government. The goal should be “fully aligned” with the Paris Agreement. In practice, that probably means going to a net zero economy, although Iberdrola is not (yet) backing the Europen Parliament’s call for a “net zero emissions” goal in a new governance regulation that is part of the EU’s Clean Energy Package.
“My message is that far from being a barrier to economic development, this is a unique opportunity to create prosperity,” Saenz de Miera told Energy Post in an interview to concide with his visit. Iberdrola’s call comes as the European Commission prepares a new 2050 climate strategy for the EU for release in November, and governments meet for a preparatory round of talks in Bonn, Germany, ahead of the next UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, in December. Iberdrola recently submitted recommendations for global climate action to feed into this process.
Saenz de Miera was in Brussels to present an analysis showing that decarbonisation of the energy sector in Spain – and by extension much of the rest of Europe, he said – is viable. Iberdrola’s number one policy ask to make this happen is “fiscal reform based on the “polluter pays” principle”. In other words, like Eon’s CEO Johannes Teyssen earlier this year, it proposes an extension of the carbon price and renewables levy from the power sector to heating and cooling and transport. Portugal has already done it and Spain is thinking about it, Saenz de Miera noted.
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