SITUATION BEFORE THE INITIATIVE BEGAN
Compliance with the European directives relating to the approval of the Kyoto Protocol on the climate change require a commitment in our country which in turn requires the participation and the leadership of local government in adopting transverse policies in sectors such as transport, town planning, building, waste handling, energy efficiency and the development of new sources of energy.
Given this situation, the FEMP and the Ministry for the Environment signed a collaboration agreement to create a stable framework of relationships for setting up in practice an initiative to prevent pollution and the climate change in a general context aimed at encouraging policies of sustainable development at the municipal level from which the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate was born as a tool for working and management
ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIORITIES
The net centres its activity in diffuse sectors promoting the following strategic lines for facing the climate change.
Transport: preparation of sustainable mobility plans aimed at promoting non-polluting means of transport.
Energy: with actions aimed at reducing end energy consumption, the improvement of efficiency and the production of energy from renewable sources.
Building: actions designed to reduce their energy needs and to incorporate renewable energies in buildings.
Town planning: aimed at reducing the need for the public’s movement and energy, keeping cities compact, multi-functional and efficient.
Together with the incorporation requirements, these priorities were set by the management committee of the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate and the environment and ecology committee of the FEMP, and ratified by the executive committee of the FEMP in its meeting on 22 February, 2005.
FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
One of the objectives of the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate is promote models that contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in cities. To reach this goal, one of these instruments is the use of strategic environmental planning as a tool that allows the evaluation of the impacts of human activities carried out in the city and to adopt correct solutions to prevent them, thus searching for a change in the upward trend of the emission of pollutants and the energy consumption this implies.
This network plays a leading role in local corporations with regard to management relating to the environment, providing compatibility between the need to overcome global problems that affect the municipal area from the legal point of view. It is also an important element to favour co-ordination of actions between governments, thus favouring synergies that allow better results to be contained in the fight against the climate change and in mitigating its effects.
The Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate is an instrument of co-ordination and impulsion for local policies in the fight against the climate change in Spanish towns and cities and favours relationships with other European Latin American local corporations committed to his project, working in synthesis to supply solutions and measures that councils may implement to reduce the climate change and its effects, also working on adaptation.
MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES
The financial resources of the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate come from the collaboration agreement signed in November 2004 between the Ministry for the Environment and the FEMP to create a stable framework of relations for the setting up in practice of initiatives to prevent pollution and the climate change in a general context aimed at encouraging sustainable development policies at the municipal level, involving the creation of the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate as a tool for working and management.
An amount of money is assigned annually to this agreement from the national budget. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, the amount was €1 million which has increased to €1,540,400 for 2008.
The network members also pay a symbolic annual payment of at most €300, according to the number of inhabitants.
The FEMP supplies human resources and the infrastructure needed for the co-ordinated undertaking of the network’s activities
As with any pioneering initiative, the first difficulty encountered was the lack of awareness of the problem of climate change. When the creation of the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate was suggested in the FEMP, few considered that an important role could be played against climate change from local government. Even so, this project was encouraged from the environmental and ecology committee and was supported by the FEMP executive committee.
Another difficulty that had to be overcome was the need for transverse climate change policies. This required the involvement of the entire local government, not only the environmental departments.
Therefore two forms for organisation were chosen. In the FEMP, the network executive committee was chaired by the President of the FEMP and the vice-presidents were in turn the presidents of the environmental and ecology committee and the infrastructure and transport committee. To guarantee the transverse requirement between the departments in the councils, the approval of the full council was required for incorporation into the network, together with an institutional declaration from the Mayor. Thus the entire corporation was informed of and involved in this initiative, led and co-ordinated by the Mayor.
None of this would have been possible without the support and direct involvement of the General Secretariat for the prevention of pollution and climate change in the Ministry for the Environment. From the start, it considered that the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate would be a quick tool to implement actions against the climate change in the local world. The clearest proof is the signing in 2004 of the framework agreement for collaboration with the FEMP to develop the actions of urban sustainability with an annual financial provision.
The objectives of the network as a tool for co-ordination and technical support are being reached gradually as is currently shown by the municipalities in the network being more informed on climate change, its contribution, its effects and how to face the situation thanks to the conferences and seminars organised on the network’s areas of action that have been compiled into a collection of books to facilitate access to the contents for the members who could not attend the congresses.
More support tools are also available to the network members to start initiatives that allow them to comply with the network’s working plan and thus reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These manuals are especially aimed at the local ambit:
Guide to handling municipal wastes and road cleaning.
Application to calculate greenhouse gas emissions from various sectors.
First report on local policies in the fight against climate change.
Local climate change strategy.
This last manual is especially designed to co-ordinate and to articulate all the actions undertaken by the council to fight the climate change. Its application allows compliance with the network’s working plan and gives the municipality an overall long-term strategy, the integration of which with the Local Agenda 21 allows progress to be made on the road to sustainability.
Educational materials have also been prepared so that councils can undertake public awareness campaigns on the important role it can play as a solution to climate change, including the “We Can” documentary. This documentary can be broadcast on all local TV stations and reproduced for free public distribution.
The achievements of the network members are described in the first report on local policies against the climate change which shows that actions are being undertaken in various municipal management areas relating to the climate change that are resulting positively in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the cities in the network..
The Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate was created as a tool for management and work by the collaboration agreement signed between the FEMP and the Ministry for the Environment for joint urban sustainability actions and since then has promoted the integration of all the factors involved in the development of these, thus guaranteeing the sustainability of its actions.
The main objective of this network is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging the sustainable use of energy, transport and town planning at the local level.
To attain the objective, the actions encouraged by the network have been carried out on the basis of a programme of activities approved by its assembly that include not only environmental elements (the network’s main objective) but also social, economic, institutional and cultural aspects:
The network’s technical secretariat co-ordinates the projects carried out in collaboration with the municipal representatives to obtain the maximum use of them, optimising for the benefits/costs ratio.
The network prepares materials that serve as a reference to member municipalities to develop strategies, regulations, etc, integrating local, social and environmental values.
The actions carried out can be adapted to the various Spanish municipalities according to their size, urban and social structure, etc.
The municipal authorities inform the public of the actions carried out, contributing to public awareness and the adoption of more sustainable habits.
To summarise, although the actions have a clear environmental bias, in order for the fight against climate change at the local level to be effective and long lasting, it is necessary to carry it out from all ambits, thus integrating social and economic criteria in the actions as well as developing initiatives in all areas of action with a clear environmental effect, such as town planning, building, transport systems, waste management, the consumption of natural resources in general, etc.
The work of the Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate has allowed the difficulties faced by Spanish municipalities when starting actions in favour of the climate to be compared. The experience of the municipalities who have put into practice actions in this area is therefore of great value, allowing obstacles to be overcome and faster and more certain progress to be made in other localities as well as in other actions.Reaching agreements that satisfy the needs of the majority of the members is an especially difficult task due to the wide diversity of types of municipalities in Spain by extension, geographical and structural properties, political ideology, number of inhabitants, etc. On the hand, it is an indispensable requirement to achieve working tools that can be applied in the local environment.
Transferability is a preferential criterion in the projects carried out by the network since it allows the tools developed to be useful for all municipalities regardless of their properties.
The municipalities in the network are starting to incorporate the new working tools developed and to evaluate their effectiveness and transferability. Such is the case of the guide to handling municipal wastes and road cleaning, the application for calculating emissions in the report on local policies against the climate change and the local climate change strategy.
It is too soon to evaluate the transferability of these instruments among all the municipalities in the network but what is transferable to other countries is the experience of the creation of a network of cities for the climate as a dynamic tool co-ordinate local climate change actions. In fact, the government of Portugal showed interest in this initiative in 2007 with the idea of reproducing it in its country.