Spain: Sustainable Mobility
In the course Business Ethics our assignments was to conduct research in the allocated country concerning private and public organisations dealing with sustainability in sectors: Food, Mobility, Housing, Energy. My focus was on the mobility sector in the country Spain.
1. General analysis
The research shows that Spain has many academic (e.g. universities) and scientific institutions (e.g. research centers) that establish projects to foster sustainability. For example, the BBVA Foundation and the José Manuel Entrecanales Foundation for Innovation and Sustainability focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. Both design, develop and finance research projects in areas such as Environment, Biomedicine and Health, Economy and Society and Basic Sciences and Technology with the goal to lead society towards a commitment to sustainability.
Another one is the Metropolitan Mobility Observatory (MMO), which conducts analysis and observes the general mobility trends by studying a set of key transport indicators grouped in: socioeconomic data, supply, demand, fundings and innovations in public transport. Surprisingly, there are not many product innovations.
Public deficit prevents investments
In many cases, the research indicates that those projects do not really show the progress and results of the projects and the question emerges why those projects are not implemented effectively.
A possible reason might be insufficient financial support from investors and government. As addressed in several articles and indicated in the OECD analysis, Spain was badly hit by the economics crisis in summer 2007. Sovereign risk is a huge problem for Spain that is expected to reach almost 100% of GDP in 2015. When the country does have a high sovereign risk the investors from other countries e.g. governments or companies from other countries fear that Spain will fail to pay off their loans. As result they hesitate to invest in Spain’s projects.
But this risk also includes that the Spanish government has to implement measures in order to lower the public debt. Usually, the government will lower its government’s public spending, which, finally, leads to decrease in investment in projects concerning sustainability. This action was taken on subsidies for renewable energy projects to help lowering its budget deficit and borrowings that reached 24€ billion at the end of 2011.
EU funded projects
In addition, there are many projects that are supported by the Spanish government and are funded by the European Union such as Transport Learning, TLN Mobility and Benefits. Those projects have especially the objective to create awareness and change habits among people to use public transport.
1. Investments in infrastructure: High Speed Train (AVE)
Spain government announced to increase its investment in infrastructures at 8,8% – in comparison, Europe’s average spending on infrastructure of GDP is 3.1.% – including public entities and State trading companies, which will represent an expenditure of 9.469 millions of Euros.
37% of the expenditures will be appointed to the high speed train (AVE). This government measure should result in the traveller’s time saving, an increase of the capacity of this type of transport. In particular, it should generate traffic and lead to an increase of the economic activity.
Spain is Europe’s first country in kilometres of high speed rail network, 2.200 km in total. It is 3rd in the world, after China and Japan. Those are the reasons for specialisation of many Spanish companies in railway technology, engineering and construction at an international lead. Many countries such as US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, China, India, Brazil have also shown interest in the Spanish technology. Most probably this is the strength and, simultaneously, the future for Spain to bring the economy forward and attract foreign investors.
(*ZEM2ALL = Zero Emissions Mobility To All)
The project has been started in collaboration with the Malaga City Council, in the city Malaga, because of its experience of 5 years in managing smart cities. Zero Emissions Mobility To All is a movement to reduce pollution created by private transport such as cars and truck emission and help to design services for the city of tomorrow. That means that the project aim to make it easier for Malaga citizens and companies to access electric mobility.
The project is implemented in a partnership between several companies that contribute to achieve the goal of electric mobility, e.g. Endesa is in charge of the development of specific solutions related to quick charge infrastructure in V2G mode, energy storage and renewable energies integration. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries supplies the electric vehicle and integrates the quick charge infrastructure of the electric vehicle in this project. Telefónica I+D implements a data platform as meeting point between the project agents and develops applications of the electric vehicle user.
In conclusion, it can be said that Spain’s strength is the focus on development of the infrastructure and technological and on the engineering sector.
On the other hand, Spain’s weakness is its public deficit that discourages foreign investors to finance sustainability projects in Spain. This indicates the reason why so many projects are funded by the European Union. The Spanish government tries to do its best by mobilising local communities and invest in the right sectors such as infrastructure to generate economic growth.
Finally, implementing sustainability projects in Spain should be coordinated with the European Union, the Spanish government and various local communities.