Spain’s Green New Deal-Backing Government Steps In To Host Climate Summit

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Spain will host next month’s global climate summit after Chile withdrew this week amid growing protests against inequality and austerity. 

The 25th Conference of the Parties, the United Nations’ annual gathering to hammer out plans to cut planet-heating emissions, will take place in Madrid from Dec. 2-13, Michał Kurtyka, the official who oversaw last year’s summit in Poland, announced on Friday morning. 

Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez publicly offered the Spanish capital as a venue after Chilean President Sebastián Piñera abruptly canceled the event on Wednesday amid mounting unrest. 

The location of the yearly confab had become something of a hot potato over the past year. Brazil, the initial host, pulled out last November after electing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate science denier. The next month, neighboring Chile offered its capital, Santiago. But as fiery protests erupted last month over a metro fare hike, Chile, the most unequal country in the 36-nation club of developed economies, also bowed out. 

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For Sánchez, 45, the save offers a political victory less than two weeks before Spaniards go to the polls for the fourth election in as many years. His Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party won reelection in April after declaring support for “El Green New Deal de España,” sometimes translated as “El New Deal Verde,” making Sánchez one of the first heads of state to endorse the climate platform popularized by progressive Democrats in the United States.

The Green New Deal, in essence, is a centrally planned industrial strategy to eliminate climate-changing emissions and guarantee economic security to workers whose jobs depend on fossil fuels. 

The move marked an escalation by a prime minister who, last November, proposed banning fossil fuel subsidies, divesting state funds of oil and gas, and generating 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2050. These were significant steps from what Climate Home News noted remains Europe’s second-largest carmaker and biggest importer of liquefied natural gas in the European Union.  

“What has come to an end is the neoliberal model that led us to the great recession,” Sánchez said ahead of the last election. “A model that mixes up deregulation and liberalization and which offers us an increasingly hostile world to those of us who are not powerful.” 

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The Nov. 10 election is expected to generate low turnout, a concern for a prime minister who first came to power after defeating his center-right opponents last year by a razor-thin margin.

But the populist politics undergirding the Green New Deal movement have energized voters in Europe, sparking what The Guardian called a “quiet revolution” this spring when green parties across the continent surged in the European Parliament elections. 

This story is developing…

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