Key role of cities in managing the climate crisis

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C3S: Challenges and solutions in Spain, an online conference organized by Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS), the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the Spanish Meteorological Agency (AEMET), was held this week with the goal of learning to use climate data is essential to make decisions that allow us to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.

The event gathered ministers, mayors, experts and representatives of the private sector to discuss the challenges and information needs that climate change implies and were able to discover the tools offered by the C3S service, with special attention to those aimed at the water and energy sectors, as well as to climatic extremes.

Cities such as Barcelona and Valencia are among the most exposed in Europe to phenomena such as heatwaves, floods, storms or droughts, which will be more and more frequent and could alter coastal areas. In this context, climate information is essential to face the challenges of climate change and adapt these cities and their surroundings to present and future adversities.

In this regard, the mayors of Barcelona and Valencia, Ada Colau and Joan Ribó, underlined the key role of cities in managing the climate crisis. By concentrating a large part of the population, large cities are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally and in the case of the Mediterranean region, they are also areas with a great potential impact of climatic extremes.

Mayor Colau pointed out that climate change “is one of the greatest challenges that modern societies face, not only for future generations but already in the present,” so the fight to mitigate its effects is one of the priorities of her municipal government. One of the first measures of her current mandate, she recalled, was the declaration of a climate emergency in Barcelona and currently the council is working with the goal of reducing emissions by up to 50% in 2030 compared to 1992, which entails “planning measures in all areas of the city.”

On his part, mayor Ribó insisted on the importance of having adaptation and mitigation strategies that make possible to face the social and economic challenge posed by climate change. The mayor stressed the situation of Valencia as a coastal city, where wetlands such as Albufera are affected by the increase in local water demand and by episodes of drought and floods, which increase the vulnerability of the water exploitation system. “For new problems, old solutions are not useful,” said Ribó, who highlighted that public policies must incorporate data provided by services such as C3S in order to be truly efficient.

The ability to collect and interpret the enormous amount of complex climate data (big data) in the long-term is therefore revealed as a fundamental tool to understand whether recent exceptional meteorological phenomena, such as the Filomena storm that hit Spain last January, can be considered isolated events or indicators of important changes in the climatic conditions of the planet, reports