Barcelona for Climate: Towards a greener and more sustainable city

Since 2018 Barcelona works harder than ever to cut the greenhouse gas emissions, increase the production of renewable energy and reduce the mobility of motor vehicles, among other environmental actions. Here’s a review.

20/01/2021 12:05 h

Ariadna Alcañiz Montesinos

The fight against climate change and the commitment to our environment is one of the top priorities for Barcelona city. With the signing of the Barcelona climate emergency declaration in January 2020, the City Council decided to speed up a series of changes in the city in line with the goals of the Climate Plan, established in 2018 and, also, with the global guidelines boosted by the United Nations through the famous Paris Agreement signed in 2015. With the local Climate Plan, Barcelona committed to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions per capita by 45% compared to 2005, multiply by 5 the production of local solar energy and reduce by 20% the mobility of motor vehicles, among other environmental goals.

The Covid-19 breakout in March of 2020, with the three months lockdown due to the state of alarm in Spain, contributed to a reduction of polluting emissions in Barcelona. In July 2020 it was esteemed an 8% drop compared to 2019 data; in particular, the reduction was equivalent to 290,840 tonnes of carbon dioxide less than the previous year. In fact, this is the value needed to save each year to reach a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1992 according to the Barcelona climate emergency declaration.

In parallel, the local government has continued working for a greener and more sustainable city model in different areas, like mobility, with the creation of new bike lanes across Barcelona and urban planning with the proliferation of the new superblocks, among others. Because, despite the Covid-19 interrupted most of Barcelona’s activity, it didn’t stop the fight against climate change.

A boost to renewable energy

To increase the production of renewable energy is a pending issue in Barcelona and the City Council is aware of it. That’s why it has recently created the Mechanism for the Sustainable Energy in Barcelona, whose aim is to increase by 66% the production of renewable energy in the city. With an investment of 50 million euro, it will work to attract private funding to amplify this sum in order to finance energy-efficient upgrading projects alongside the installation of photovoltaic panels.

Currently, there are 86 solar energy projects under way at buildings and around party walls in public spaces like, for example, in three buildings of the Mas Guinardó surroundings. These will be added to the hundred solar installations in public buildings and facilities’ roofs, 15 in façades and the 17 energy producing pergolas that currently exist in the city.

A shift on the urban and mobility city model

The urban planning is another important area in the fight against climate change in Barcelona. The City Council is working to turn a city with a high residential density and a lack of green areas into a quieter metropolis, with more balanced neighbourhoods and more parks and gardens that contribute to the wellbeing of the citizens and the local biodiversity. The proliferation of the superilles (superblocks) is an example of the measures taken in this area.

Very related to the urban planning is the mobility. The forementioned superilles are, in fact, born with the aim of getting back to the citizens a space previously occupied by private motor vehicles. Other measures are the creation of new bicycle lanes in Barcelona, like the brand-new bike lane in Aragó street, which has just started operating its first section and will offer a combined route of over 7 km.

Moreover, the boost to the Low Emission Zones is another measure in the mobility area. In this case, aimed at cutting the circulation of the most polluting vehicles. In three years, the presence of these unsuitable vehicles has dropped from representing the 20% of the total to only the 3%, with around 285,000 less journeys.

What can you do on an individual level to fight climate change?

Besides all the actions taken by the local government, the City Council through its Climate Plan, also wants to encourage the citizen participation in the fight against climate change. That’s why it promotes a series of actions on an individual level that can help in achieving the climate goals to which the city has committed. Here are some examples:

  • Give yourself an energy check-up to improve power and comfort levels at home while saving money.
  • Generate power at home, for which you can apply for grants.
  • Renovate and insulate your home, for which there are also public aids.
  • Transform your roof terrace into a green roof.
  • Join the community allotments in your neighbourhood.
  • Get around on foot or by bike.
  • Produce less waste.
  • Buy local.