Putting the planet first

Barcelona is a city committed to the fight against climate change and has rolled out various initiatives over the years aimed at improving the health and quality of life of its citizens. The idea is to build a cleaner, healthier, greener and more sustainable city.

Proof of Barcelona’s commitment to tackling climate change can be found in the various local and international commitments it has signed in recent years, such as the solar thermal by-law, the Energy, Climate Change and Air Quality Plan 2011-202 etc. These policies form part of the Citizen Commitment to Sustainability 2012-2022, signed by over 800 organisations including companies, businesses, schools and the City Council itself. One of the ten areas of action set out in the document backs maintaining the city’s commitment to sustainability at an international level, in particular boosting and leading sustainability policies in the Mediterranean.

To this end, work is being done in different spheres such as mobility, the creation of more green spaces, energy and waste and consumption.

Mobility

Mobility measures are aimed at giving pedestrians and cyclists a greater role, boosting the use of public transport and reducing the use of private vehicles to improve the quality of the city, road safety and the efficiency of transport as a whole. The roll-out of the new bus network, with high performance buses, preliminary studies evaluating the connection of the tram systems, the boosting of bicycle use and the extension of the bike lane network are all examples. At the same time, traffic calming, the superblocks urban model, 30 kmh speed limits and pedestrianised areas allow citizens to regain public space and will improve quality of life.

In Barcelona, traffic is the main cause of pollution and directly affects people’s health. Nitrogen Oxide particles and PM10 micro particles are the most harmful and can lead to the appearance of chronic respiratory and cerebrovascular illnesses. It is calculated that the reduction of these particles could help prevent nearly 650 deaths in the city and 3,500 in the metropolitan area every year. The City Council has set up a broad programme of measures to combat pollution which seek to cut traffic, boost public transport and sustainable mobility.

More green spaces

Increasing the number of green spaces in the city is also one of the measures for improving people’s quality of life and combatting pollution. The aim is to increase green spaces equating to 1 square metre per inhabitant by 2030. Green space is to be boosted in the neighbourhoods with the least greenery to guarantee equal distribution of the benefits of green spaces and biodiversity. Those benefits include improved physical and psychological welfare, as well as environmental benefits such as the mitigation of the effects of climate change, the reduction of atmospheric and noise pollution and even the generation of economic activity.

Energy

Action in the sphere of energy seeks to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to the figures for 2005. That means cutting energy consumption via efficiency, self-consumption and responsible energy use to generate as much local energy as possible with local resources, both renewable (sun, wind, biomass etc.) and residual, and assuring basic supply for everyone.

As part of the Citizen Commitment to Sustainability a total of nine specific projects are being put together which include a guide with criteria for boosting energy-saving and energy-efficient strategies, programmes to renovate housing with low-cost passive systems, recommendations to adapt habits and action to help achieve zero waste and foster more responsible consumption. Barcelona is in no doubt: the planet comes first!