The Region of the Basque Country

Population: 2.17 million (2013)
GDP: 66.1 billion (2013)
Country: Spain

GHG emissions (year): 19,3 MMt (2013)

GHG emissions/capita/year: 8.8

The Basque Country is a region in northern Spain with the highest GDP per capita in Spain; 33.5% higher than Spain's average in 2013. 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.

The “Environmental Program of the Basque Country 2020” sets out this commitment of the Basque Government to the environment. This program thus becomes a cross-cutting aspect in the Euskadi 2020 strategy overall and it thus has assumed the mission to contribute to wellbeing, job creation and developing an embracing and low carbon economy.

The Basque Country has made great progress in the environmental area in recent years, thanks to the endeavors of the general public, companies, civil society and the authorities. The joint effort has positioned our country as a benchmark on the International Environmental Performance Index.

The Environmental Framework Program of the Basque Country to 2020 complies with the task entrusted of being the roadmap to a new stage setting the course and coordinating the actions in the environmental field for the coming years.

Climate change is an excellent example of this. The transition towards a low-carbon economy and by means of a change in our production and consumption processes requires a great deal of time. However, the environmental problems and the uncertainty regarding their impact must not be an excuse to delay the political measures to be adopted. The current generation is responsible for the wellbeing of future generations and, therefore, a coherent view of the future is essential.

  • Key Targets / Successes

    Climate policy and GHG emissions reduction targets:

    Climate Change Strategy to 2050 was approved in June 2015.

    GHG reduction targets:

    • 2030: 40% GHG emissions reductions since 2005
    • 2050: 80% GHG emissions reductions since 2005

    Renewable energy targets:

    • 2030: 20% energy renewable consumption vs final consumption.
    • 2050: 40% energy renewable consumption vs final consumption.

    Clean transportation targets:

    • 2030: 27% alternative energy sources
    • 2050: 100% alternative energy sources

    Most innovative climate actions and emissions reduction successes: 

    Basque Plan Against Climate Change 2008-2012 objectives were successfully met. 2008-2012 emissions were 10% below target, and absorptions were 50% over target.

  • Current activities

    Flagship initiative

    • Udalsarea 21, Basque network of Municipalities towards Sustainability: Made up of 200 municipalities, an example of institutional coordination. 75 municipalities with CO2 emissions inventories, 47 mobility plans, 30 climate change programs, 6 climate change regulations.
    • BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change, made up of 35 researchers from 12 countries, has been recognized as it is considered the most influential think-tank of Europe and the second in the world in climate change policy and economy.
    • Biscay Marine Energy Platform-Bimep: Offshore facility to research, demonstrate and operate systems to harness marine energy.

    Renewable energy:

    • Creation of a platform (Bimep) for testing and demonstrating marine energy devices.
    • The designing of the draft of a decree in energy sustainability of Basque Administration is in process.

    Energy efficiency:

    • Subsidies to energy efficiency, renewable energies, and CHP

    Clean transportation:

    • Creation of an electric and alternative vehicles charging stations net, by public-private partnership (IBIL).
    • Creation of an electric car-sharing system.
    • Subsidies to alternative electric vehicles.
    • Promotion of mobility plans.

    Urban environment/smart cities measures:

    • Development of smart grid network and installation smart metering in municipalities are expected.
    • Creation and / or expansion of underground, train, tram and bus networks. Use of a sole ticket for city and intercity public transport throughout through the Basque Country.
    • Develop green infrastructure and nature-based solutions as adaptation measures to climate change.

    Waste management

    The “Environmental Program of the Basque Country 2020” identifies “responsible management of resources and waste” as one of its main environmental goals.

    The main objectives of the “Plan for the Prevention and Management of Waste in the Basque Country 2020” are:

    • Reduce the total amount of waste generated by 10% for 2020 compared to the amount produced in 2010, as well as the hazardousness of that waste.
    • Increase the selective collection and separation of waste to at least 75% for 2020, and set up collection systems for problematic waste streams.
    • Increase the proportion of waste which is prepared for reuse, recycled and recovered to 60% by 2020, resolving the main issues in the Basque Country.

    Sustainable land use:

    • It is expected to boost local integrated and organic production through subsidy programs.
    • Improve forest management, increasing the certified area and improving fire prevention programs.

    Innovative financing:

    A program of Tax reductions for “clean” technologies in industry is settled and periodically updated.

    Yearly call for Innovative sustainable local projects

    The Development of an environmental taxation system is expected.


    Has been elaborated a study of Climate change: impact and adaptation in the Basque country. 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.

    Adaptation criteria has been integrated in public policies, e.g. water resources policies

    Climate Change Strategy, 2050 has settled a set of lines, actions and targets in adaptation to Climate Change

  • 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 Government), economic promotion and planning.

    Most important economic sectors:

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

    GHG breakdown by sector (%):













    Year: 2013

    Current power sector mix (%):

















    Year: 2013

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