“This is not a drill” (Això no es un simulacre), with this words, also used by the social movement extinction rebellion, the City of Barcelona, has declared the Climate Emergency on the 15 January 2020. Thereby the Catalan capital city follows several hundred other cities and the European Parliament, who have previously declared the emergency state, reacting to an increasing awareness about the risks of climate change faced by cities and communities worldwide.
In the introduction of the thirty-page long declaration, the Barcelona City Council clearly affirms this awareness stating that “we are facing one of the most important and complex challenges ever to be faced by humanity” and to tackle it “we need a rethinking of our production and consumption model, our culture and our lifestyle”. Given the severity and urgency of the situation, it further emphasises “we must act without delay and with the involvement of citizens”.
The role of cities in climate change is especially prominent since cities are causing 70% of global GHG emissions and therefore also bear the highest potential for change. Even tough cities, especially in the northern hemisphere, are not the most affected ones by climate change, they won’t be spared either.
As potential effects of climate change on the city of Barcelona, the declaration lists: Increase in temperature, decrease of rainfall (while events of extreme rainfalls will occur more frequently) and a subsequent increase in the necessity for drinking water, loss of considerable parts of the city beaches, risk of wildfires and loss of biodiversity in the mountain ridge in the back of the city (Collserola), a worsening of air quality and an impact on critical infrastructure.
Analysing furthermore the different sectors responsible for the city’s emission, it concludes that emission reduction must be addressed from all sectors, but mainly from transport (almost 30% of emissions), the domestic sector (20.40%) and services (20, 59%).
Bases on this short analysis, and in line with the Barcelona Climate Plan 2018-2030, approved on October 26, 2018, the declaration considers seven major model changes and two adaptations:
- Change of urban model
- Change of mobility and infrastructure model
- Change of energy model
- Change of economic model
- Change of consumption and waste model
- Change of power model
- Change of cultural and educational model
- Take care of health, well-being and environmental quality
- Take care of the water
Out of the foreseen model changes, 2. and 3. have a direct implication on EV Energy project objectives and the actions plan prepared by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce through the project and number 1 an indirect effect.
In terms of the change of urban model (1.), the document analyses, that Barcelona is a compact city with a lack of green space and excessively dependent on motorized mobility. To confront this situation, the city compromises itself to increase green areas, transform public space including the recovery of space allocated to the private vehicle parking for social use. It aims to foster sustainable and collective modes of mobility, align urban planning to climate change with respective provision of tools, regulations, indicators and financing mechanisms and finally to avoid the loss of biodiversity.
With respect to the mobility and infrastructures model change (2.), the City council lays down that “the current mobility model is still strongly dependent on fossil fuels, especially related to the use of private motorized vehicles, but also to sea and air transport.” To address this situation, the city puts forward four action lines, with several sub-activities each: Improve spaces for pedestrians and active mobility, improve and promote a larger public transport supply, reduce the use of motorized vehicles, and reduce the impact of the port and airport on the effects of climate change.
The current model of energy consumption and generation (3.), based primarily on fossil fuels, is a major cause of climate change. To reverse this model towards a rational use of energy, the Barcelona City Council in its declaration proposes activities guided towards energy savings, energy efficiency and renewable and local generation, where self-consumption and self-generation is a priority. To this end, one activity line is also focused on the rehabilitation of buildings.
In the Barcelona Climate Plan (2018), the city has already established a package with more than 240 measures to achieve a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 45% by 2030 with respect to 2005 and carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as other adaptation objectives and resilience, climate justice and citizen action by 2030. With this two key documents, the city has sent a powerful message, which is now to be translated into concrete actions with measurable results on GHG emission reduction.
More information on the Barcelona City Climate emergency declaration here.