If you’re looking for cities innovating their way out of climate problems, look no further than Spain, where Barcelona is proving that it doesn’t take national governments to make cutting-edge policies.
This video (in Catalan unfortunately) illustrates the level of innovation the town is experimenting with. In the video, you can see EV charging stations, sensors on trash and recycling bins to minimize costs and the environmental footprint for city waste and recycling collectors, water sensors in parks to ensure water is used more intelligently, sensors in parking areas to indicate empty spaces (minimizing driving time and emissions), and sensors on streetlights that detect movement and adjust the illumination accordingly. As the video states, this is an initiative to allow Sant Cugat and its residents to save money, be more efficient, reduce their environmental footprint, and illustrate the potential of smart cities.
So what does all this mean? For one thing, it demonstrates that cities are where sustainability, innovation, and low-carbon solutions are at. Many of us in the field of climate change have been too focused on federal and multi-lateral policy and agreements. Cities like Barcelona are showing a desire to proactively engage the private sector and citizens as a whole to modernize their energy, transit, and health care systems, among others. While many national governments, like the U.S. and Canada, refuse to take meaningful action or commit to binding emission reduction targets, cities around the world are continuing on with smart, eco-friendly solutions.