Ribera, Europe’s ‘green’ crusade that risks everything against Putin’s gas

When Theresa Rivera He has a clear idea of ​​what he wants to do, he tries to carry it out by all possible means, regardless of who the opponent is or the professional and personal risk he runs with it. This is an affirmation that is undoubtedly supported by the vast majority of those who know the Minister of Ecological Transition because they have worked with her since renewable energies were invented in Spain until today, a crusade of which the current third vice president is the greatest exponent, not only in Spain, but beyond our borders. The challenge of decouple the price of gas from the electricity bill in Spain and Portugal that he has raised in the EU, it is not just one more stage on his path -always moving forward and without looking back or sideways-, it is a crucial battle in which he not only wants us to be allowed to do what we want in Spain with our ‘clean’ resources, in the depths of its ideology is serve as an example to other partners Europeans capable of taking this measure and teaching the whole world that she is always right.

Teresa Ribera (Madrid, 1969) he trained as a lawyer and was even a professor of Public Law and Philosophy of Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid, until becoming part of the civil servant elite in the Superior Corps of State Civil Administrators. But already from her university stages she was a tireless fighter for the environment – some of her acquaintances from that time point out – to whom everyone listened, “because to refute her and talk with her about something that was so clear to her, It was already complicated”. Since then, Ribera has passed through almost all the departments that have been created in the Administration to defend sustainability and the development of forms of renewable energy generation against the control of the fossil fuel market of the big electric and oil companies.

Before becoming Minister with Sánchez in 2018, she was Secretary of State for Climate Change with Zapatero, and in the meantime between one leader and another, she took two very important steps towards her consolidation as one of the European leaders in sustainability and clean energy , between Paris and Madrid: first in the French capital, to direct the prestigious Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), from which he advised the French government; and later in the Spanish capital, to strengthen her relationship with Ferraz’s PSOE as president of the Advisory Council for the Ecological Transition of the Economy, in 2016, with Sánchez in the midst of a reconstruction journey, for whom Teresa Ribera’s message and consistency in the new ‘green’ world suited him perfectly. Knowing how to be at the right time and in the right place has earned her to be the first Spanish minister to culminate the union of the responsibilities of the energy sector with those of the fight against climate change, which until she came to office were divided between Industry and the Ministry of the Environment.

Already as minister, since 2018, is when she has deepened her immersion in the stormy world of large energy companies in Spain, which was already gestating at the hands of Sánchez in the PSOE, but which now marks her crusade against a business model and an ‘establishment’ that lead him down the path of bitterness, given the chronic ill health of his relations with large companies, before, during and, surely, after the war with Ukraine. Her commitment has always been to the world of renewable energies and those who have followed her closely throughout this time, both friends and enemies, know that she is the person who knows more and better all the bureaucracy and the political ‘pasteleo’ that has been generated around the fight against climate change almost worldwide, but that does not mean that I really know how the energy sector works, the carbonized one, the one that still governs people’s lives in the form of bills electricity and fuel prices.

That flight forward with renewable energies at any price in the face of the basic rules that still prevail in the global energy business, together with the lack of flexibility when it comes to negotiating, are the two great handicaps attributed to a minister accustomed to to hard work, push their teams to the limit and that she has long been accustomed to fighting to always get her way or to be as close to it as possible. Right now, would settle for leaving the price of electricity around 100 or 110 euros the megawatt hour, half of what the market marks, but double what there was just a year ago, when things were more normalized and the path of renewables very well marked in Europe.

The problem they see from the energy sector is that Ribera’s entire strategy with the Ukrainian conflict and the new energy scenario in Europe forces you to look back and take advice on classic songs of charred energies -which I had never wanted to do-, to get ahead again even if it doesn’t go as fast as I imagined. No one is going to change Teresa Ribera’s mood or her desire to win now, but it is in this new scenario that the decoupling of gas from the price of electricity for Spain and Portugal is now being considered, with the Germans just around the corner waiting to reproach him with his own usual arguments: if we cap revenues, we lose track of the investments that should get us out of Russian dependency (his) and that affects the system as a whole.

As his official biography says, “Ribera’s contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) It has been recognized internationally. So far we all agree, but from the renewable sector itself, which has just withdrawn the “reasonable return” of the 57 euros with which its development was covered without even consulting them, they remember that “a minimum of dialogue must be had” in the face of such measures and crucial moments like this, if only so that the large electricity companies, hit by the cut in benefits that they want to apply, do not reach Europe with all their power and the same message as the carriers and gas stations, “ to work at a loss, it is better not to start”.

In the battle that is going to be waged this month, the Spanish minister has the trump card of the ‘Iberian exception’ from the last summit and the official support of Sánchez and Costa, but in Europe is going to look very closely at both the range of prices that it presents, such as the ‘bad fleas’ that still exist with the large companies in the sector and the “improvable” cartel that Ribera has with the Algerian authorities, which should be the great white knight that will free Europe in the medium term from the yoke of Putin’s gas . The EU, the United States, Morocco, Algeria, Sánchez himself, the newcomer Feijóo… Everyone is watching Ribera, “the climate change fighter”. If she wins, she will be the new European heroine of a greener world; if she loses, perhaps too many will ask for her head.