Climate change has an effect on Barcelona

The effects of climate change on residents in the city varies according to income, age and which part of the city people live in. The Climate Plan is being put together to counter the effects and adapt to the changes. The document will be drafted with proposals from citizens and organisations and will set out the strategies to be followed.

Climate change represents major challenges for cities. Exposure to heat has significant effects on health, worsening chronic illnesses, particularly cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. If emissions continue to rise on a global scale, the temperature in Barcelona could rise by between 2 and 3 ºC (between the middle and the end of the century). That would mean longer and more frequent heatwaves, tropical nights (over 20 ºC) and torrid nights (over 25 ºC), and more droughts.

In the last 34 years, Barcelona has suffered 8 heatwaves. The figures are alarming: in a scenario where action is increasingly needed in the fight against climate change, heatwaves could still quadruple by the end of the century.

Differences between neighbourhoods

Some neighbourhoods (due to their location, socio-economic situation and quality of buildings) and some people (due to their age, condition or health), are more vulnerable according to a study by Barcelona City Council, the Catalan Meteorological Service and Barcelona Regional. As a result, Nou Barris and some areas of Les Corts, L’Eixample and Sants-Montjuïc are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Those most affected include the over 75s, babies, people with chronic illnesses, people living in buildings with poor energy efficiency, those with lower socio-economic levels and those in areas lacking greenery.

In order to combat and adapt to the effects of the heat, the municipal government is working in different spheres to meet the objectives set out in the Barcelona Climate Commitment for 2030: to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% compared to 2005 and increase green space in the city by 1.6 square kilometres. Priority measures include the move to increase greenery in the city, the boost for energy renovation to improve thermal comfort in homes, the promotion of sustainable mobility and the identification of the most vulnerable zones in the city to be able to act in them.

A plan to act in Barcelona

Given the issues detected in Barcelona, work is being done to put together a Climate Plan to provide a boost for work already under way. The plan envisages measures for mitigation, adaptation, climatic justice and public action. Work on the plan should run through until the end of the year and involves entities belonging to the Barcelona + Sostenible network and citizens. It will include action against climate change in the next two years, with a longer term perspective up to 2030. “We want to move forward and the climate plan allows us to do so along with the citizens as a whole”, noted the Deputy Mayor for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility, Janet Sanz, who also called for “social and citizen awareness” on the issue. “Our goal is to work so that nobody is left out and to reach all neighbourhoods and sectors of the population”, she added.

For his part, the Commissioner for Ecology, Frederic Ximeno, explained that the question has to tackle “the responsible mitigation of the effects of climate change and the responsibility of adapting ourselves to the effects already taking place”.