02/03/2015 - The OECD’s latest Environmental Performance Review of Spain finds the country has decreased the energy and carbon intensity of its economy, reduced industrial pollution and cut per-capita waste generation since 2000. Yet it warns that higher industrial output could put new pressure on the environment as the economy rebounds.
“Spain has visibly improved its environmental performance since the turn of the century,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, presenting the Review in Madrid. “Spain must now ensure that its economic recovery does not undo that work. There is scope to both strengthen and simplify environmental policies to achieve growth that is robust, inclusive and green.” (read the full speech)
Spain has made important progress in many aspects of its environmental performance since 2000. However, there is ample room to apply more green taxes and reduce charges on labour as a way to spur economic growth, according to the Review.
Spain could also do more to simplify and streamline its environmental regulations, building on steps already taken in this direction, as its complex rules and decentralised management still create heavy green tape burdens on firms, the Review says.
Noting that green tax revenue has fallen to among the lowest in Europe at 1.6% of GDP in 2012 while labour taxes have risen, the Review supports the idea of a reform to broaden and raise environmental taxes. Raising the diesel tax in line with petrol tax, for example, could help preserve the environment while enabling a reduction in payroll taxes.
Environmental and labour taxes as % of GDP
Download the data: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/data-00665-en
Spain has one of the most ambitious biodiversity laws in the OECD area and an industrial sector with a relatively small environmental footprint. However, the construction boom of the early 2000s, tourism and population growth in coastal areas have created environmental pressures that need to be monitored.
The Review highlights the high volume of requirements in environmental regulations and their relatively uncoordinated implementation across 17 Autonomous Communities. Despite some progress in streamlining the system, more could be done to lighten the burden on firms and the cost to the economy without compromising environmental standards.
Relative burdens on companies from environmental regulations
Download the data: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933183145
Other findings of the latest OECD Environmental Performance Review of Spain include:
An embeddable version of the report is available, along with information on printable and downloadable versions.
Read more about OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: www.oecd.org/environment/country-reviews/about.htm.
For further information, or to arrange an interview with the author, journalists should contact Catherine Bremer in the OECD Media Office (+33 1 45 24 97 00).