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Energy Transition decision to cause multiple benefits also for marine wildlife in Spanish waters

Madrid, Wädenswil, April 8, 2021: Today, the Congress of Deputies (the main legislative chamber of the Spanish Parliament), decided to prohibit the search for any new hydrocarbon resources in Spanish waters, including the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf [Article 8 of the Law]. The decision is part of the new Climate Change and Energy Transition Law which has been subject to intense debates for almost a year within the Spanish Parliament.

The agreed text of the Law will be sent to the Senate, the second chamber of Parliament. It is expected that it will be formally adopted in the Senate without any change and enter into force immediately after its processing in this chamber.

“We applaud the Spanish Government and Parliament for today’s decision to ban oil and gas exploration in its waters. Spain is about to enter the group of progressive countries that are committed to putting an end to the era of fossil fuels and moving towards the decarbonization of the economy, in compliance with the Paris Agreement”, declares Nicolas Entrup, Co-Director of International Relations at OceanCare, an international marine conservation organisation.

Spain follows countries such as France, Denmark and New Zealand which have previously taken similar legislative steps. In December 2017, France was the country taking the lead in banning the exploration of hydrocarbons in its waters.

In April 2018, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on new oil and gas exploration in the waters under its jurisdiction. New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone is the fourth largest on the planet and half of the world’s dolphin and whale species live in or roam New Zealand’s waters, from critically endangered species such as the Maui dolphin to the blue whale, the largest mammal on the planet.

More recently, in December 2020, Denmark ended new oil and gas exploration in the Danish North Sea as part of a plan to phase out fossil fuel extraction by 2050 with the caveat that the decision does not cover waters off the autonomous territories – Greenland and the Faroese Islands – that belong to the Kingdom of Denmark and are likely to progress with the continuation of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation.

The new Spanish Climate Law will also have multiple benefits for marine wildlife, as it would cease seismic surveys which are among the loudest noise generating activities in the world’s oceans. Such surveys have been documented to cause harm to many marine species, including marine mammals, fish and invertebrates.

“The Spanish public has been protesting against oil and gas exploration for many years now. Today’s decision is a recognition of civil society protest which marks the end of the fossil energy era in Spain, as well as a significant move to protect the marine ecosystem. It’s a big day, we’ve been working and hoping for many years to come” says Carlos Bravo, spokesperson for OceanCare in Spain.

Additional Information
The Spanish Climate Change and Energy Transition law sets December 31, 2042, as the date for the definitive termination of the last hydrocarbon exploitation concession currently in force. For hydrocarbon exploration projects currently in process, the law establishes that no related request of authorisation for hydrocarbon exploitation will be accepted once the law enters into force.

Media contact
Nicolas Entrup: Phone. +43 660 211 9963; e-mail: nentrup@oceancare.org
Carlos Bravo: Phone: +34 626 998 241; e-mail: cbravovilla@oceancare.org

Media Release