Ignacio Galán: "Combating CO2 emissions is the only way out for the habitability of this planet"

Under the title "Let's give our future a future", the newspaper La Vanguardia publishes an opinion article by the Executive Chairman of Iberdrola, Ignacio Galán, after his participation in the Climate Week in New York. The original article is reproduced below:

Just a week ago at the United Nations headquarters in New York, I listened to its secretary general, António Guterres, launch a direct dart at the conscience of the world to warn of the indolence with which the climate crisis is being treated. "Humanity has opened the gates of hell," Guterres said bluntly, referring to the growing number of natural disasters linked to global warming. The heads of state and government, civil society representatives and business people invited to Climate Week were also able to hear him say that, despite progress, "we still see many fossil fuel companies, asset owners and other companies that seem to be investing with the same logic as those who, at the beginning of the 20th century, were betting on animal-drawn carts, thinking that this would guarantee them maximum profits".

Combating CO2 emissions is the only way out for habitability on this planet. And we have no other way. If we want humanity to have a future, governments and companies must change the pace today, together, with ambition and commitment. The last two years have shown us that this perverse short-term incentive is still there for fossil fuel companies. But we must be aware that the measures we take in the next five years will shape the lives of millions of people throughout this century.

Unfortunately, despite the daily cries for help from ecosystems, there is still a considerable gap between words and action. There were 195 signatories to the Paris Agreement, but to date, fewer than 30 have submitted domestic regulations to achieve net zero emissions. And more than a third of the world's largest companies have yet to set emissions reduction targets.

We need to shake off the theoretical posturing and get down to work on measures that have practical effect. Awareness-raising is no longer enough. Nor is it enough to make commitments. We must deliver results. The headlines of these summits must be concrete actions with measurable impacts, not just good intentions.

Iberdrola's emissions are already 75% lower than those of European electricity companies. Quarter after quarter we report on them with full transparency. And we are not going to stop there. On the occasion of Climate Week, we were one of the first companies in the world to present a Climate Transition Plan to the UN, fully aligned with the recommendations of the United Nations Panel of Experts.

But we need other major drivers of the economy to put in place a comprehensive and viable climate transition plan now. It is projected that more than 90% of companies that have already set net zero emissions targets will not reach their targets if they do not at least double the rate of reduction by 2030.

It is true that government action is essential to incentivise emissions reductions, but to meet these targets, the bulk of the work must be done by business in all sectors.

It is up to us, the companies, to change our investment programmes or our production and consumption patterns. We have shown that we know how to innovate products that not only respond to our customers' current needs, but also anticipate future trends. We are the companies that equip ourselves with the talent and resources necessary to be able to carry out our plans autonomously and quickly. And every day we reach agreements and alliances with other companies, institutions and associations of all kinds.

In the energy sector, the way forward is clear: accelerate electrification by investing in renewable generation infrastructure, grids, storage and green hydrogen. By anticipating the development of clean energy, we will avoid worsening the consequences of global warming on our societies, increase our self-sufficiency and security of supply, and create new opportunities for industrialisation and employment.

That is why, in recent months, the goal of tripling renewable capacity globally by 2030 and reaching the 2050 targets, twenty years ahead of schedule, has been put forward. And it can be done. Renewables are already the main growth vector for global electricity generation. The technological revolution we have experienced in recent years has meant that, for example, a new wind installation now requires three times less investment than a coal-fired one, as well as avoiding the costs of buying fuel and emission rights.

To achieve this goal, the public and private sectors must walk hand in hand and join forces. With a clear energy policy, with defined medium- and long-term objectives and with appropriate regulation. But also with companies determined to make a commitment and, above all, to deliver. Because let us not forget that on the other side of the table are not governments, not even today's society. It is the generations to come and the future of the planet. Let us give our future a future.