Global climate strike: the world grinds to a halt for the health of the planet

Environment. Barcelona joins the call to tackle the climate emergency.

Barcelona City Council is backing the global climate strike, a plea to everybody to stand up for sustainability, the protection of nature and biodiversity and climate justice. The climate emergency will be declared in the city on 1 January 2020, with a string of complementary measures to be applied relating to mobility, transport, renewable energy and waste management to counter the effects of the climate crisis.

Young people and environmental organisations have mobilised around the world to rally in the fight against climate change, an undeniable phenomenon which is here and now. Barcelona City Council is joining in with the global climate strike. The mobilisations coincided with the global summit at the UN addressing the climate emergency, which brought together the main heads of states, governments and major cities in the world.

The climate emergency is here. What happens if we don’t act?

  • Rise in the average temperature of more than 2ºC by 2030.
  • Less rainfall, but more torrential. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be a 12% reduction in surface water resources and a 9% reduction in groundwater.
  • Heatwaves and droughts. Excessive and sustained heat will lead to a rise in mortality and sickness, particularly among those most vulnerable, such as young children and the elderly. Barcelona is expected to experience four or five heatwaves every year before 2050. Prolonged drought spells would mean restrictions to water consumption and affect vegetation and biodiversity, which would be more susceptible to infestations and blights.
  • Rise in the sea level. The rise in the sea level and floods caused by torrential rain will mean erosion at all the city’s beaches, with less sand and less surface area. It is thought that the sea level could rise by over 130 cm by the year 2100.
  • Increase in respiratory illnesses and infections. The climate change would bring vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya, along with an increase in cardio-respiratory illnesses caused by pollution.

What is Barcelona City Council doing about climate change?

  • Climate emergency decree. The climate emergency will be declared in the city on 1 January 2020. The municipal government will be activating a package of urgent measures this autumn, agreed by the first session by the Climate Emergency Board. Over two hundred entities, experts and officials from administrations are represented on the board. Action will be taken in the spheres of mobility, urban planning, school environments, energy and waste management.
  • Climate Plan. This is a strategic programme with 242 measures to tackle the effects of climate change, revolving around four main themes: mitigating the effects of climate change, adapting the city to the consequences of the problem, prioritising the most vulnerable groups and getting citizens involved in the fight. The main goals of the plan are:
    • To cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45%.
    • To increase greenery by 1.6 square metres per inhabitant and add more trees.
    • To cut domestic water consumption by 100 l/day.
    • To achieve 60% selective waste collection.
  • Permanent low emissions zone. The permanent low emissions zone, on all working days from 7 am to 8 pm, comes into force on 1 January 2020. A municipal by-law will regulate the restriction on traffic and fines imposed on vehicles without environmental rating badges issued by the Directorate General for Traffic (DGT). This is expected to affect some 125,000 vehicles over the next four years.

What can you do to combat climate change?

Barcelona City Council offers a list of everyday things that everyone can do to help combat the effects of climate change.

  • More greenery, for cooler air and more shade. More plants in gardens and on balconies, participation in communal allotments and proposals to create green terraces on rooftops.
  • Change to the energy model. Contract green electricity; check supply bills and find out how to cut energy consumption by approaching energy advice points; buy domestic appliances with the highest energy-efficiency ratings and install solar panelling on terraces at home.
  • More sustainable mobility. Get around on foot, on public transport or by bike; if you need to use a private vehicle, opt for vehicle sharing; reduce business trips and choose videoconferencing.
  • Consumption and waste. Reduce purchases with plastic packaging; separate paper, glass and plastic; use recycling and waste management points (punts verds); take textile bags and baskets when going shopping; buy produce by weight, opt for fresh, local organic produce and buy second-hand clothes.