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‘This is not a drill’: Barcelona and Boston are latest cities to declare climate emergency

Barcelona’s mayor is calling for a “paradigm shift” towards “a truly green economy", while Boston says the climate crisis represents a public health emergency.

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Mayor Ada Colau said Barcelona will aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, through over 100 measures.

 

Barcelona has been running a Climate Emergency Board since July, including 300 people representing 200 organisations from across the City Council, private companies, academia and citizens.

 

“We didn’t want to produce a rhetorical decree, we didn’t just want a signature on a bit of paper. We wanted a real process, with specific measures, a landmark pledge in the fight against the climate emergency,” Colau said.

 

She called for a “paradigm shift” towards “a truly green economy, a Green New Deal: cleaner industry and backing innovation, also making the most of the opportunities offered by new technologies.”

 

“Barcelona as a city wants to add its weight to the words of Greta Thunberg and state that indeed, [this is] not a drill, it’s an emergency."

 

Reports say Barcelona’s city hall plans to invest €563 million, which it hopes will encourage additional investment, for actions including reducing the number of private cars on roads, improving the energy-efficiency of residential buildings, producing more renewable energy, and increasing waste collection and recycling.

 

Officials also aim to work with Barcelona’s port and airport on reducing environmental impact.

 

“Barcelona as a city wants to add its weight to the words of Greta Thunberg and state that indeed, [this is] not a drill, it’s an emergency,” Mayor Colau said.

 

Boston declares public health crisis

 

Elsewhere, the City of Boston in the US has adopted a resolution affirming that the climate crisis is a “health emergency”.

 

Boston’s City Council noted that the health threats of climate change include increased exposure to extreme heat, reduced air quality, more frequent and intense natural hazards, increased exposure to infectious diseases and aeroallergens, effects on mental health, and increased risk of population displacement and conflict.

 

“Climate change exacerbates health disparities, disproportionately harming the most vulnerable among us – children and pregnant women, people with low income, the elderly, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, and marginalised people of all races and ethnicities,” a statement said.

 

According to Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation in Action (Cedamia), over 1,315 jurisdictions globally have now declared a climate emergency.

 

Councilor O’Malley, who put the resolution forward, commented: “I want to really set the tone for our work for this year and beyond in affirming and recognising the fact that the climate crisis has reached the level of a public health emergency. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the news. Look at what is happening currently in Australia. There have been half a billion animals who have lost their lives. There have been nearly 30 humans who have lost their lives.”

 

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that only a decade remains for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and even half a degree of average warming will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty.

 

“We are experiencing it. It was 72 degrees last weekend. It is going to be 19 degrees tomorrow,” Councilor O’Malley added. “I always caution you can’t confuse weather with climate, but there is no doubt that we are living with the effects of climate change.”

 

In October Boston updated its Climate Action Plan. The city is aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2050 with a particular focus on buildings and transportation, which make up nearly 99 per cent of Boston’s carbon emissions.

 

According to Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation in Action (Cedamia), over 1,315 jurisdictions globally have now declared a climate emergency.

 

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