Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change

Parallel to the debate on whether or not climate change is caused by man-made activities, is it clear that people are now beginning to notice its impact on a local scale, so Barcelona is committed to concentrating all its efforts on fighting against this change and minimising its consequences.

But, while alleviation is all about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting cities means introducing measures that diminish vulnerability and increase the city’s resilience to these undesired effects.

Barcelona, like many other cities in the world, is facing more and more risks arising from climate change. Cities are very vulnerable to risks because of their high population density and the services concentrated in them.

It makes it difficult to quantify long-term risks but the economic and personal costs caused by the increase in risks associated with climate change may be very high. According to the Catalan Meteorological Service, the Mediterranean region, where Catalonia and Barcelona are located, will probably be one of the areas worst hit by climate change on the Earth. The main risks that are expected in Catalonia and Barcelona which have in fact started to be noticed over the last few years, are a rise in the sea level and temperatures, and change to the precipitation system.

Consequences of Climate Change

On people's health: caused by more frequent and intense heat waves, made all the worse by the heat-island effect. This will affect air quality, which may lead to an intensification of heart, respiratory and allergic conditions. Elderly people and children are the most vulnerable.

On the natural heritage: more serious fires are expected which may significantly affect the Collserola Nature Park. Biodiversity in general is also expected to diminish.

On the coast: More erosion is expected due to increased easterly winds and a rise in sea level.

On financial activities: tourism is one of the city's main economic activities, as it contributes 10% of the GDP. A rise in average temperatures may affect tourist activities.

On resources such as water and energy: the demand for water is expected to rise between 5% and 12% owing to reduced levels of comfort, increased greenery evapotranspiration, tourism and so on. That, added to reduced precipitation and river volumes, will put strong pressure on available resources. As for energy consumption, fewer days are expected for using heating and more for using air-conditioning.

On sanitation infrastructures: more intensive and frequent torrential rains may exceed the load capacities of purifiers or there may be floods.

On government: challenges arising from climate change are establishing a change of paradigm in the way we are governed.

On civil protection: emergency plans will have to be revised and adapted to the expected changes.

For all the above reasons, it is very important that we all play our part and make an effort to do everything in our hands to fight against climate change and reduce its effects. Climate change poses new challenges we have to tackle.