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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez delivers a speech during the first day of the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) on December 02, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Europa Press News/Europa Press via Getty Images)

At COP 25 Kickoff, Spain's Socialist Leader Rips 'Fanatics' Like Trump Who Deny Climate Crisis

"No one can escape this challenge by themselves. There is no wall that can protect any country, regardless of how powerful it is."

Jake Johnson

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez kicked off COP 25 in Madrid, Spain on Monday by condemning the "handful of fanatics" who continue to deny the reality of the climate crisis as it wreaks havoc across the globe and threatens to render large swathes of the planet uninhabitable.

Sánchez, leader of the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and proponent of a Green New Deal for Spain, did not condemn any nations or world leaders by name. But Sánchez implored the international community to combat "alternative facts," an apparent shot at the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

"No one can escape this challenge by themselves. There is no wall that can protect any country, regardless of how powerful it is."
—Pedro Sánchez, Spanish prime minister
"For years, several versions of climate change denial were in circulation," said Sánchez. "Today, luckily only a handful of fanatics deny the evidence. No one can escape this challenge by themselves."

"There is no wall that can protect any country, regardless of how powerful it is," Sánchez added in another thinly veiled jab at the Trump White House, which took the first step toward withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord last month.

Sánchez said Spain will "lead by example" by crafting climate policy that phases out fossil fuels with sufficient urgency while ensuring a just transition for workers and vulnerable communities.

The PSOE emerged victorious in parliamentary elections in April and November after running on a Green New Deal platform. Following its November win, the PSOE agreed to form a coalition with the left-wing Podemos party as the far-right, climate-denying Vox party quickly gained ground in parliament.

As HuffPost's Alexander Kaufman wrote Sunday, "if Sánchez's center-left vision of a Green New Deal could be criticized for not being ambitious enough, the inclusion of the anti-austerity Podemos could make the country the first to seriously attempt the kind of Green New Deal progressives elsewhere have laid out to curb soaring economic inequality and planet-heating emissions."

"Green New Dealers on both sides of the Atlantic argue that addressing both crises at once is key to staving off a resurgent neo-fascist right wing," Kaufman wrote.

During his speech on Monday, Sánchez stressed the importance of ensuring that the "ecological transition" away from fossil fuels is fair and equitable.

"It must be the lever of change against inequality, it must imply justice and equity," said Sánchez. "Our country has assumed that mandate and is determined to act. Progress, if not sustainable, does not deserve to be called progress."

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