Thursday, January 16, 2020
How Green and Sustainable is Barcelona?
What is Barcelona doing to become greener and sustainable?
After the lack of consensus in many areas during COP25 summit regarding climate change, it is clear that our governments and our citizens still have a long path ahead to mend things up before it is too late to save us from extinction in this planet which by the way will prevail with or without us. So it is quite obvious that every single measure, be it performed by an individual or by the state, counts.
Solving this existential problem is vital and requires every effort. Of course increasing green space in the city, nurturing our natural lungs is not enough if 70 % of the metropolitan area favors cars.
There is no time for the trees to absorb all that CO2 and it is more practical to cut down on cars than sowing a jungle out there.
Sometimes, the air in Barcelona is quite good, in some quarters more than others but the yearly average does not meet with recommended measures. It is not that we are one of the most polluted cities in the world, but it is rather stupid to think of the patch of atmosphere above us as an impermeable bubble. We ruin this spot and that will have repercussions all over the globe.
It is necessary that an agreement is reached and that countries stop behaving like kids. Children are often wiser I would say.
The fact that the car industry is a huge business run by not so scrupulous lobbies, happily sustained by 'greedy' consumers, not too willing to consider the battle to stop pollution as a top priority, does not mean we cannot work on putting some filters in the house in the way of green spaces scattered not only in the surroundings but in the very center of our part of the world, Barcelona in this case.
Barcelona is among the most crowded cities in Europe with a population of 1.636.762 inhabitants in a 101.35 km² surface and so there are a lot of cars. From that huge amount, 570.000 do not carry any label certifying its level of pollution because they simply are highly contaminating vehicles. This is all about to change by decree thanks to local government measures in 2020. Cars like those won't be allowed in the city anymore.
Besides this important news, there is literally an invasion of personal electric two wheel vehicles and I think things are going to get better.
But wait a minute, what about the green?!
25 % of Barcelona is covered or adorned with trees. They tend to last 50 years and there is a sort of 20 year plan, ending in 2037 to improve their quality and quantity. Take the case of plane trees, a traditional species in Barcelona. We keep them because they have been part of our culture for more than a century but they get sick more often and make people sick with their pollen. So not any tree will do. They must resist the new adversities of climate change as well.
Fortunately, we have beautiful green areas in the small hills around and inside Barcelona like Parc del Guinardo (in the pictures), Parc de Montjuic, Collserola Range Natural Park or charming and romantic style Ciutadella Park and Parc del Laberint.
Evidently, as we emphasized at the beginning, it is difficult to filter insane proportions of CO2 and other contaminating agents by turning Barcelona into a jungle, and of course not just planting trees
without criteria, that's why we need new plans, plans for the industry and plans for green spaces in a way that we create a balanced urban ecosystem. One of the most outstanding measures regarding the latter is the Greenery and Biodiversity Plan or the Green-Infrastructure Impetus Plan - Barcelona intends to have an extra 1 m² of greenery per resident by 2030!
Check here for more information on Barcelona environment and sustainability
And on January 15th, 2020 Barcelona has declared a state of climate emergency and a plan of action for the next decade that includes 100 measures and a 563.3 million euros budget. Measures will apply on seven main areas: mobility, urban planning, food, economy, energy, consumption - recycling of waste and culture - education.
These actions add up to a previous strategic plan adopted in 2018 known as the Pla Clima (Barcelona Climate Plan).
As you can see we can work on a better planet for our children. It is yet to be seen whether politicians and social agents, whether we as individuals fulfill our promises.
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