Basque Country to showcase its social, economic & industrial model at COP26 in Glasgow as element for structuring climate action
Glasgow will be the world's climate change capital in November and today, 30 September, Milan is hosting the pre-COP, with face-to-face and online presentations in preparation for the Glasgow summit. Today the flag goes down on a global event that will lead to highly interesting debates between state and regional governments and ordinary people.
The Basque Country is a region committed to climate change action. The Basque Government, through its Department of Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, has made climate and energy challenges a top priority. For instance it is one of the 22 regions around the world which form the Climate Ambition Alliance, promoted by the UN. This alliance gives international recognition to the Basque Country's commitment to attaining carbon neutrality by 2050 and becoming a territory which is resilient to the effects of climate change.
The Basque Country will be represented in Glasgow, and Basque Govt. Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment Arantxa Tapia has said that “we will bring our experience and commitment to several top-level panels” in order to “publicise our experience and our support for climate action on the basis of our social, economic and industrial model”. Her agenda features the following events:
- The Basque Country will undertake to work for decarbonised industry in the context of the World Economic Forum.
- In the field of energy, the Basque strategies in regard to offshore energy and clean hydrogen will be set out at the official meeting organised by the European Commission's DG for Energy.
This will be an unbeatable opportunity to bring together the international networks to which the Basque Country belongs:
Under2 Coalition: this coalition of subnational governments which seeks to mitigate GHG emissions will be holding its assembly.
Regions4 is a global network that represents regional governments in matters of UN agendas, EU initiatives and global debates on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development.
The Basque Country currently chairs this network, and the COP in Glasgow is an excellent opportunity to call for a greater role for regions in action against climate change and for sustainability.
Ms. Tapia states that “Glasgow is expected to be a turning point” and has admitted that expectations are high “concerning the agreement that may emerge from the summit”. She is therefore focusing on three issues which are fundamental for the Basque Country:
- Speeding up the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Speeding up changes in our territories so as to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change as well as possible.
- Increasing funding for climate-related matters.
In regard to this last issue, she stresses that the Euskadi Next 2021-26 investment programme, designed by the Basque Government in coordination with the three Basque provincial councils and the municipal councils of the provincial capitals, envisages investment in the recovery, transformation and resilience of the Basque Country. 63% of the measures taken will be concerned with the climate and energy transition, including a number of actions that could have a total impact in terms of investment of more than €18M between European funding and public and private local resources.
The actions involved will not only contribute to sustainability in terms of energy and climate matters but will also create wealth and jobs and open up numerous opportunities for Basque industry. This is the spirit of the European Green Deal: bringing together economic growth, jobs and environmental protection and promoting a competitive economy.
Ms. Tapia announced that “we are finalising our own plan for public investment for actions to combat climate change, which we will initially undertake with local funding. It includes actions at ports and along the coastline; flood resilience work, soil remediation, renewable energy generation, etc. The departmental budget for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment for 2022 will prioritise the reactivation of enhanced competitiveness of industry through support for sustainability and climate action.
She stated that “action against climate change cannot be subject to the uncertainty of whether NEXT funding is available”. The Basque Government will press on with its planning and if the funding arrives then investment will be sped up, "but we're not going to stand idly by and wait”. She expressed regret that "events to date do not encourage us to believe that true transformation will come about with the arrival of NEXT funding, at least not with the way it has been distributed so far".
Urban Klima 2050 seminar
On Thursday 30 September the Palacio Euskalduna conference centre in Bilbao is to host an international summit under the title "Urban Klima 2050: multi-agent cooperation for funding adaptation in the Basque Country", which is to report on progress in the LIFE Urban Klima 2050 European project, set to be the biggest climate action initiative in the Basque Country in the years up to 2025.
This seminar is one of the main events at the second ASTEKLIMA Basque Climate & Energy Week, which is to take place throughout the Basque Country from 24 September to 3 October.
The seminar is part of the official programme for PreCOP26 All4Climate-Italy 2021, the forerunner event for the Climate Summit to be held this year in Glasgow on 31 October - 12 November, where the Basque Government will reiterate its commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation as set out in its road map, the Basque Green Deal, a model for fair, sustainable economic development with industry and technology at its heart.
The event can also be followed online. It is split into four sessions, at which representatives of public institutions and climate change experts are to speak about the need for cooperation to foster adaptation and best practices and about the importance of multi-agent cooperation and governance.
Basque Government Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment Arantxa Tapia will open the event, together with the Chair of Eudel, Mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz Gorka Urtaran and Christian Strasser in representation of the European Commission's LIFE Programme.
At the first round table Alexander Boto, Head of Ihobe, María José Sanz, Scientific Director of BC3, Carlos Garbisu, Scientific Director of Neiker, and Ana Juaristi of the Environment Office at Donostia/San Sebastián Municipal Council will present the Urban Klima 2050 model as an example of multi-agent cooperation.
Case studies in adaptation will then be set out by Antonio Aiz, General Manager of URA (Basque Water Agency), Amets Jauregizar (Mayor of Bakio), Luis Pedrosa (Energy & Environment Manager at Tecnalia) and Guillem Chust (Coordinator of the Climate Change Area at AZTI).
The event will end with a round table under the title ‘Working together for our planet: multi-level cooperation and governance to lead the agenda in adaptation actions for global impact’, which will feature representatives of international organisations including Gonzalo Muñoz, a High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, Saleemul Huq, Head of the ICCAD (International Centre for Climate Change and Development), Héloïse Chicou, Head of Climate Action Advocacy for the Regions4 network of regional governments for sustainable development, and Holger Robrecht, Deputy Regional Director for Europe of ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability).
40 actions to ensure the resilience of our territory
The European LIFE Urban Klima 2050 project is the most ambitious scheme of its kind led by the Basque Country. It seeks to assure the resilience of the area based on a multi-level governance approach involving multiple players and climate action on the ground. This ambitious project began in 2019 thanks to the efforts of a large consortium of 20 organisation, with initial investment of €19.8 million (€10.2 M (i.e. 52% of the total) funded by the EU). The social entities involved in the project have set the ambitious target of implementing 40 actions in three specific areas (the coastline, river basins and peri-urban areas) over 6 years.
LIFE Urban Klima 2050 involves pilot schemes in the three Basque provincial capitals (Bilbao, Donostia and Vitoria-Gasteiz) and in a further four municipalities: Bakio, Bermeo, Gernika-Lumo and Zarautz. These 7 Basque municipal councils are members of the consortium behind Urban Klima 2050, with publicly owned environmental management company Ihobe as its leader and coordinator. Also involved are several Basque Government departments, URA (the Basque Water Agency), EVE (the Basque Energy Association), all three provincial councils, five science and technology centres (AZTI, BC3, Tecnalia, Neiker & Tecnun) and the Naturklima Foundation.
Main progress up to 2021
The idea of the LIFE Urban Klima 2050 project is for the model of cooperation and implementation used to be replicable elsewhere. In the almost two years since the start of the project, significant progress has been made in its various areas, in terms of adapting the local territory to the effects of climate change. Stand-out points include the following:
- Diagnostic and assessment report to identify options for minimising damage caused by combined action of waves and tides on the sea front in Zarautz. A proposal for the sea-front promenade in the same town has also been drawn up.
- Installation of a coastal video surveillance system on Mount Igeldo (Donostia/San Sebastián) to monitor the La Concha and Ondarreta beaches.
- Study with a view to creating flood woodland and marshes on the River Estepona in Bakio.
- Diagnostic study & identification of restoration actions in certain protected areas belonging to the Natura 2000 network in Araba, particularly Lantarón and Labastida.
- Interventions to improve river banks along the Errekatxulo stream (Donostia/San Sebastián).
- Work has begun on most of the actions related to green infrastructures in urban and peri-urban areas, and some are already at an advanced stage, e.g. the naturalisation of the Artikutza reservoir, the planting of native species to replace the Lawson cypress trees that formerly stood in Donostia/San Sebastián and numerous other nature-based projects for the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
- Installation of photovoltaic panels at 4 points in the city of Donostia/San Sebastián for on-site electricity consumption.
- Setting up of a pedestrian and bike trail through the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve.
- Study of electrical mobility on the outskirts of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
- Installation in Lekeitio of an ARMS (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure) to keep watch on the communities of organisms that live on the sea bottom, known as the benthos, and study changes in them due to climate change.
- Creation of management instruments to provide support for local authorities, such as a tool for calculating GHG emissions on a supra-municipal scale and a guide for the drawing up of local climate and energy plans.