May 12, 2021

Sánchez Galán (Iberdrola), on climate change: «We are late»

New York CorrespondentUpdated:

The UN Climate Action Summit kicks off on Monday with a clear desire to extract concrete and realistic commitments on emissions. Not only a good number of member states of the international organization participate, but also other important actors, such as NGOs, local entities and companies.

At the summit, Spain will be represented by the President of the Interim Government, Pedro Sánchez, and José Ignacio Sánchez Galán, CEO of Iberdrola. Spanish power company is a world leader in renewable energy and has been very active in previous climate summits.

Sánchez Galán will be one of the few executives of large companies with a voice in the forum, in which the UN Secretary General, the Portuguese Antonio Guterres, hopes to boost progress towards the objectives set: elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, reduction of 45 % of emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2050.

"We're late," the executive said on the eve to a group of journalists about efforts against climate change. That will be the message that this Monday offers to the international community: “We are running out of time. And not only is it an environmental problem, it is also a health problem. ”

In that sense, Sánchez Galán followed the same line of Guterres in the demand for measures and criticized the “greenwashing” of other actors, that is, the use of the objectives against climate change in the face of public opinion but without real commitments. "They are the ones who speak, they say, they promise … But they don't measure," he said of his real advances.

The top executive of Iberdrola enhanced the investment commitments in sustainable energy of 10,000 million a year – currently, they are around 8,000 million -, the already achieved reduction of carbon emissions by 30% and the goal of being neutral in carbon in 2050.

Sánchez Galán acknowledged that progress can be made thanks to “political pressure”, as in some countries where climate change policies are well implemented, or with “social pressure”, as seen in recent days with the mobilizations of young people in all the world.

For the executive, the energy transition began twenty years ago and now we are “in the discount time”. With the Kyoto Protocol, in 1992, the situation was already known, he explained. “There are people who believed it and people who did not believe it. Those of us who believed it have done things and those who have not taken the bull now. ”

He compared the current situation regarding climate change with industrial reconversion in Spain in the 1980s, in which he participated as an executive of the naval industry in the Basque Country. “A decision had to be made that was not taken in Asturias. The decision was: what do we do? Do we close what is not worth to build what has a future? Or do we continue to subsidize this that has no future and then have problems? Asturias took the last path and its results were different, he explained, on the subsequent industrial and economic development of the Basque Country. "You have to bet, the comfort is that they continue to give me subsidies," said Galán, who also strongly criticized, for example, the "death" defense of coal by authorities such as the former Minister of Industry, Álvaro Nadal. "You cannot defend coal and sign the Paris Agreement," he said.


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