The coronavirus pandemic caused “positive effects” on the environment, in particular on the volume of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which for the first time it fell below those of 1990 when it was reduced by 13.7%, while in terms of air quality there were improvements in levels throughout the country.

These are data from the Environmental Profile of Spain 2020 presented this Tuesday by the third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, together with the director of the Autonomous Organizations of National Parks, María Jesús Rodríguez de Sancho.

Reduction of polluting gases

Rodríguez de Sancho has detailed that GHG emissions are decreased by 5.6% in 2019 compared to the previous year, while the provisional progress of 2020 foresees a decrease in emissions of 13.7, for the first time below those of 1990.

The data also shows a reduction in 2020 of the average concentrations of almost all pollutants atmospheric: NO2, SO2, PM2.5 and O3 (which, although it fell by 6.3% in 2020, did not reach a ‘low level’). The improvements found temporarily in large Spanish cities are related to the containment measures of Covid-19.

Regarding the intensity of energy, that which is consumed to produce each unit of GDP, it has been reduced by more than 12% between 2010 and 2019, which according to the Environmental Profile show “progress in energy efficiency”.

The profile also highlights the contribution of renewable energies to national electricity generation during 2020, which has been 44%, which marks “a new all-time high “.

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At the same time, it reflects that the protected land area represented 36.2% in 2020 and the marine 12.3%, which means that Spain exceeds the 10% established for the year 2020 in the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Furthermore, the profile states that Spain was the country in the European Union that contributed the most land area to the Natura 2000 Network (18%), while another indicator that improves this year is the average expenditure per household in the repair and maintenance of products, which has decreased by 19.8%.

Despite the improvement due to the pandemic, the profile also shows negative data, as is the case of the status of invasive species, which worsened to the point where their proliferation has become a “real environmental problem” by altering the natural balance of native species, requiring strong monitoring by the administration. Specifically, in 2020 the number of alerts received increased to 27.

Information ‘biased’ by the pandemic

Regarding the results of the profile, Ribera has underlined, in statements collected by Europa Press, that the information this time is “particularly biased” by the “peculiarity” of the pandemic, specifically due to mobility restrictions and the reduction in activity .

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On the other hand, he stressed that the document has increased the areas of knowledge that it addresses by adding a health one, as well as expanding its number of indicators compared to other years with the aim of offering “radiography” that “allows to understand” what is due pay attention so that business initiatives, industrial production or economic activity, among others, have a “sensible and reasonable future” and that “it can evolve over time without surprises.”

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The new area of ​​knowledge in which this year is delved is Health, which affects, among other indicators, fatalities from the effects of climate change such as natural disasters, among which 26.6% are due to floods .

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