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Barcelona’s government has officially declared a climate emergency. The city announced plans to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 through funding and various policy measures.

Lawmakers introduced 103 new measures last week to help reduce planet-warming emissions. One measure prohibits cars that heavily contribute to pollution from entering “low-emission zones,” which were introduced earlier this year. Others call for the creation of more parks or the phasing out of disposable plastic products. 

The city will also invest $628 million to spend over the next five years to produce renewable energy, increase recycling, and improve energy efficiency. 

Barcelona first announced its plans to declare a climate emergency in July, following the publication of a European Union report, which revealed that Spain’s greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 17.9% in the last 27 years as European emissions significantly decreased overall.

“We wanted it not to be a rhetorical statement, but a document containing measures that mark a before and after,” Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said on Wednesday, calling for a paradigm shift to a green and sustainable economic model. 

City officials are in the process of tackling greenhouse gas emissions produced by air and sea travel, which are currently over four times the amount of emissions originating from Barcelona’s land activities. 

Catalan climate scientist Pep Canadell praised the city government’s leadership on the matter.

“It can’t be done from a top-down perspective only — but that can facilitate it tremendously,” he said. “People can then see the benefits themselves and want to make changes.”

Barcelona also has plans underway to make more parts of the city accessible to pedestrians to encourage the use of public transportation. Some of the new features and buildings include a public park, climate shelters, and at least 200 new schools.


Defend the Planet

Barcelona Just Declared a Climate Emergency

By Erica Sánchez  and  Catherine Caruso