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The Region of Catalonia

The Region of Catalonia
7.5 million (2010/2011)
€198 billion (2010)
The Region of Catalonia


GHG emissions (year): 50.03 million tons CO2e (2009). For more info on economic and political context, see below.

Catalonia is one of the 17 Autonomous Communities of Spain. It is the second most populous (after Andalucía) and has the highest GDP, followed by Madrid. The Region’s capital, Barcelona, has 1.6 million inhabitants. Catalonia’s main economic sectors include chemicals, food, energy, metal and transportation as well as a recent boom in tourism, with Barcelona port becoming a major European hub.

The Framework Plan for Climate Change Mitigation 2008-2012, which complies with the Kyoto Protocol, set out various goals including 5 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions per year. The aim of the Plan was to contribute proportionally to the Spanish compliance, while, at the same time, being ready to incorporate the agreements being negotiated in Europe to reduce GHGs for the period 2013-20.

The Government has recently approved the Catalan Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2013-2020. The Strategy identifies the geographic areas and activities at greater risk due to climate change, and considers adaptation options that reduce the vulnerability of socioeconomic sectors and natural systems. It also incorporates and implements measures in sectoral planning, risk management and best practice to improve climate change adaptation and resilience.

Catalonia has also approved an Energy and Climate Change Plan 2012-2020, which demonstrates its leading approach towards clean energy. Its objectives complement the 2020 EU Strategy: the Plan will achieve a 25,3% emissions reduction from 2005 levels, a commitment to generate 20.1% of renewable energy sources of gross final energy consumption, and to achieve a 20.2% increase in energy efficiency by 2020. Actions are focused predominantly on management on energy demand, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Energy efficiency is based on industrial, building and transportation sectors. The new Plan also promotes renewable energy, in particular wind, including marine wind, biomass and solar (thermal, photoelectric and thermoelectric)

The focus on the private sector has recently shifted to Voluntary Agreements. Private firms are encouraged to reduce carbon emissions beyond legislated targets. Grants exist for local organizations to purchase smart energy control systems.

Current Activities

Energy efficiency

The Energy and Climate Change Plan 2012-2020 includes different energy efficiency measures in agriculture, buildings, services, industries, waste and transport. Measures to encourage energy efficient devices such as heating and cooling, lighting, and smart meters are included in the implementation of the Framework Plan. 

On August 30, 2011, the Government approved the Program of Saving and Energy Efficiency in buildings and facilities of the Government of Catalonia (GENERCAT) 2011-2014, which aims to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and reduce the energy bill of the Catalan Government. The program, which affects all Government and public sector facilities, expects to achieve an 11% reduction in energy consumption by 2015 and reduce the energy bill by 4.4%.

The energy expenditure of the Government is about 1,000 gigawatt-hours per year, which represents a bill of close to 100 million euros. Its reduction is part of both the current context of budget austerity, and the new Energy Plan and Climate Change 2012-2020, which will be one of its core savings and energy efficiency vehicles.

Renewable energy

The Energy and Climate Change Plan 2012-2020 put the emphasis on clean energy sources, especially biomass, wind power (including marine wind) and solar (thermal, photoelectric and thermoelectric). The Region is committed to a 20.1% share for renewable energy sources by 2020. 

Clean transport

In October 2010 Catalonia adopted the IVECAT Strategy 2010-2015, for the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs). The Government of Catalonia is already heavily involved in initiatives to make EVs ready for the market, and since 2010, more than 17 municipalities have introduced EV fleets thanks to regional subsidies. The strategy has a target of 76,000 electrical vehicle sales and 91,200 charging station installations (83,600 private and 7,600 public access) by 2015.

Catalonia’s “Transport Infrastructure Plan in Catalonia 2006-2026” (PITC) aims to increase rail freight 8.5% per year and limit private car mobility increase by up to 60% by 2026, resulting in a 10% CO2 emissions reduction compared to business as usual (BAU).

Sustainable land use

65% of Catalonia’s territory (around 20,000 hectares) is Mediterranean forest. This environmental asset provides 4,550 kt/year of net carbon sequestration, or 7.84% of Catalonia’s total GHG emissions in 2007. The Government’s priority is to carry out a sustainable management of this forest, rather than reforestation activities. Nevertheless, 230 hectares have been reforested, or around 175,000 trees.

Catalonia is one of the participants of FUTUREforest, which is a European project. FUTUREforest is a partnership of regions sharing ideas on how the forests of Europe could adapt to climate change using innovative natural solutions, contribute towards carbon sequestration and reduce risks caused by climate change such as flooding, drought, wild fires and soil erosion.

In particular, it looks at:

  • Adaptation of forests to maintain their resilience
  • How forests can help society adapt to the impacts of climate change
  • How trees and timber can do more than just lock away carbon

The seven partners are; Auvergne, France – biodiversity; Brandenburg, Germany – knowledge transfer; Bulgaria – soil protection; Catalonia – natural risks; Latvia – timber production; Slovakia – carbon sequestration; Wales – water management.

Waste management

The Municipal Waste Management Program 2007-2012 (PROGREMIC) aims to achieve a 10% reduction in waste production per capita by 2012 (based on 2006 levels). It targets material recovery increases of 55% for organic matter and 60% for packaging, representing an emissions savings of up to 159,000 tons of CO2e annually.
The Industrial Waste Management Program 2007-2012 (PROGRIC) aims to achieve a 5% reduction in the amount of waste generated by 2012, which represents a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2026.

Smart cities

Abertis Telecom and Indra are developing smart cities technologies to provide public services including lighting management, irrigation of parks and waste collection in Lleida and Sant Cugat del Vallés, and also in Barcelona (agreement made on March 6, 2012).

More info

Devolved powers and competencies relevant to climate and energy

According to the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, the Government of Catalonia has powers to establish additional protection measures on the environment. This is with respect to many other areas that are affected, for example, livestock and forest management; water management; hunting and fishing; emergency and civil protection; housing; transport infrastructure; planning and landscape, coastal and urban planning; research, development and technological innovation; health and tourism.

Energy issues are cross-cutting issues and many administrations intervene: the European Union through directives, the Spanish State through laws or plans, and even local councils and local authorities. In order to be effective, actions should be performed with focus on collaboration and must be consistent within all administrations. The Government of Catalonia has full authority to deploy energy efficiency policies, which has become a central objective within the region.

Most important economic sectors

Industrial activity is important for the economy of Catalonia, particularly in the chemical, food, energy, metal and transport material sectors.

In recent years, special attention has been paid to logistics (the reinforcement of infrastructures, particularly with regard to the Mediterranean Axis) and the knowledge economy, an activity that is growing all over Europe. The technological district of Barcelona “22@” is a good demonstration of the increase in new technologies and the audio-visual industries. The ports of Barcelona and Tarragona are key points of economic growth in Catalonia. In recent years, tourism has experienced a boom, having an impact on the expansion of commercial activity. The tourist demand has positioned Barcelona’s port as a European leader with regard to cruises. Over two million people come to Catalonia by this mode.

GHG breakdown by sector (%):

Power  15% 
Transport 30%
Buildings 8%
Industry 32%
Agriculture/forestry 8%
Waste 7%

Current power sector mix (%) (2009):

Coal 0.93%
Gas (gas) oil: 0.60% / natural gas: 35.42%
Nuclear 45.64%
Wind 2.15%
Solar (PV) 0.66%
Biomass 2.81%
Hydraulic 10.53%
Marine n/a


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