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The Region of the Basque Country

The Region of the Basque Country
2.17 million (2011)
€66.9 billion (2011)
The Region of the Basque Country


GHG emissions (year): 20,5 MMt (2011). For more info on economic and political context, see below.

The Basque Country is a region in northern Spain with the highest GDP per capita in Spain; 33.8% higher than Spain's average in 2010. Key economic sectors include energy, aeronautics and machinery.

Sustainability is a global and interrelated issue that surpasses specific territories and so should be managed from the appropriate political commitments adapted to each territorial area. Because of this, Basque Government articulated its own sustainable development strategy which aligns with core international strategies and commitments - largely within the Europe 2020 Strategy. This way, the Basque Country advances in the same direction as the European Union; towards smart, sustainable and integrating growth.

EcoEuskadi 2020, the comprehensive sustainable development policy of the Basque Country, sets strategic goals for 2020 and frames the sectoral plans from the perspective of sustainability.

Addressing three different dimensions of sustainable development, the strategic goals of EcoEuskadi 2020 are divided into three main blocks:

  • Firstly, strategic goals must advance towards a new economic model that makes the Basque Country one of the most innovative, competitive and eco-efficient economies in Europe. For this, it is a priority to minimize energy dependency on fossil fuels, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and adapt to the negative impacts of climate change.
  • Secondly, strategic goals must achieve territorial and environmental excellence. This includes the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity; a balance between territory, infrastructures, facilities and housing; and the establishment of an integrated sustainable mobility model. This model must facilitate structuring within the Basque Country, as well as competitive external connections.
  • Thirdly, strategic objectives must aim for social cohesion and integration.This requires a fully integrated and cohesive society on the basis of employment, education and solidarity; the strengthening of social protection systems to continue healthy and equitable development; and the strengthening of an educational system and quality values which are focused on adapting training and educational contents to the qualifications required by the labor market and society in the future, including sustainability in all its dimensions.

The GHG emissions target for 2020 (based in 2005) is the reduction of 20% emissions.

Current Activities

The Climate Change Act and the 3E 2020 Energy Strategy involve and instruct the departments that are directly implicated in climate policies.

The 2020 Plan will replace the current plan for the 2008-2012 period, and will contemplate a minimum goal of a 20% reduction of emissions by 2020, in compliance with the commitments established in the EcoEuskadi 2020 strategy. GHGs emissions in the Basque Country experienced a 5% drop in 2011 in comparison with the previous year; the reference index for the Kyoto Protocol reached -2,6% regarding the base year (1990), contrasting with the +14% goal established in the Basque Climate Change Plan for the 2008-2012 period.

The decrease in emissions against the GDP increase (-5% against +0,6%, respectively) indicates that the trend beginning in 2002 has been kept, decreasing the intensity of emissions in the Basque Country. In other words, the region has lower emissions for each productive unit.

The Basque Climate Change Act, a pioneering initiative among European regions with a sole precedent in Scotland, seeks to provide these policies with a comprehensive and stable framework to promote a transition towards a low carbon-emissions society.

As a differential element, the Basque Climate Change Act includes the carbon budget concept, and its application increases the political profile of the emission-reduction goals by assigning responsibilities at the highest level.

In addition to the instruments established in the Act, the Basque Ecodesign Center is one of the ways to achieve a society with more energy-efficient technologies, less carbon intensity and a more efficient use of raw materials. This institution, created by the private sector and the Basque Government, will design and develop innovative eco-design projects and is the spearhead of eco-design policy in the Basque Country.

The specific emissions mitigation goals, established in the Energy Strategy for the Basque Country 2020, include a number of targets for 2020 (based on 2010 levels):

More info

Devolved powers and competencies relevant to climate and energy

Industry (with some exceptions), energy (law developing and executing), land planning and housing, transport (with some exceptions), environment (law developing and executing), forestry and agriculture, internal water management, R&I (in coordination with National Gobernment), economic promotion and planning.

Most important economic sectors

Services (66.9%), industry (24.5%), construction (7.8%) and agricultural sector (0.8%).

Energy efficiency

  • 13% final energy saving in industrial sector
  • 10% final energy saving in building sector
  • 9% reduction in oil consumption
  • 22% improvement in energy intensity 

Power sector

  • 16% share of renewables in energy mix (6.1% in 2010)
  • 55% share for natural gas (48% in 2010)
  • 22% share for CHP (mainly natural gas)
  • 7% imports (43% in 2010)


  • 15% alternative energy sources
  • 37,100 electric vehicles

These targets align with the EU Climate and Energy Package, reflecting the specific mitigation possibilities identified for different sectors of the Basque economy. 


The elaboration of climate change adaptation policies and their integration in sectoral policies in the Basque Country has the support of the project K-egokitzen: “Climate change: impact and adaptation”. As part of this project, climate change is considered, for example, when planning the revision of the river basin management of the Basque Country, through facing flooding risks.

K-egokitzen is a research project that tries to identify and evaluate the potential expected impact resulting from climate change in the Basque Country, to design efficient adaptation measures. Led by the corporation Tecnalia Research and Innovation, 12 research teams from the University of the Basque Country participate in this project, in collaboration with BC3, the Basque Centre for Climate Change.

GHG breakdown by sector (%):

Power 15%
Transport 25%
Buildings 17%
Industry 38%





Current power sector mix (% of production in 2010):

Coal 3%
Gas 48%
Nuclear 0%
Hydro 2%











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