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The Region of Catalonia

The Region of Catalonia
7,518,903 (2014)
US$226,328.65 (2014)
The Region of Catalonia


Catalonia is one of the 17 Autonomous Communities of Spain. It is the second most populous, has the highest GDP and its main economic sectors include chemicals, food, energy, metal, transportation and tourism.

Catalonia has 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 of 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).

Catalonia also approved a The Catalan Strategy for Adapting to Climate Change 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.

At present, Catalonia is drawing the Climate Change Mitigation Plan 2020, which focuses on non-energetic sectors not covered by the Energy and Climate Change Plan 2012-2020, such as waste, agriculture, fluorinated GHG emissions, carbon sinks, and non-energetic emissions from buildings, transport and industry.

Through the Voluntary Agreements, private firms are encouraged to reduce carbon emissions beyond legislated targets. More than 130 organizations joined this year, making it a very successful program promoted by the Government.

Finally, the Catalan Government is currently working on a Climate Change Bill, giving a solid and strong response to the threat of climate change, also as an unequivocal sign of commitment and collective responsibility in the fight against climate change.

Key Targets / Successes

Climate policy and GHG emissions reduction targets:

Catalonia accomplished its objectives under the Kyoto Protocol. Furthermore, now it has a target of increasing energy efficiency by 20.2%, generate 20.1% of gross final energy consumption from renewable sources and reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions 25.3% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Most innovative climate actions and emissions reduction successes: 

In 2012, GHG emissions in Catalonia were 43.1 Mt CO2eq, being 21% lower than in 2008. Emissions per capita in Catalonia were 5.8 t CO2eq, 7.4 t CO2eq in Spain and 9.0 t CO2eq in the EU. Therefore, Catalonia has the lowest emissions per capita, which decreased 29% compared with 2005 levels (peak emissions).

In 2015, the Government of Catalonia will approve the Climate Change Draft Bill.

Current Activities

Renewable Energy:

The Energy and Climate Change Plan 2012-2020 emphasises 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. 

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. 

Apart from that, Catalonia has specific legislation for issues related to mitigation actions. That is the case of the Catalan Strategy for Energy Renovation of Buildings 2014-2020, which aims to reduce 22% of the CO2 emissions of already-built residential buildings by reducing energy use by 14.4%. In turn, mobilising public investment, saving money and creating new job opportunities.

In 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%.

Clean transportation:

In 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, a growing number of 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). 

Urban environment/smart cities:

Catalonia is a leading region in the development and implementation of Smart Cities technology. Its capital, Barcelona, is hosting in 2015 the ‘Smart City Expo – World Congress’, where companies, investors, opinion leaders, businesses… share ideas and projects for smart cities to become a reality.

The province of Barcelona is working towards developing what is known as ‘Smart region’, where 311 municipalities exchange information to manage municipal services in a coordinated manner using new technologies.

Sustainable land use:

65% of Catalonia’s territory (around 20,000 hectares) is Mediterranean forest. The Government’s priority is to carry out a sustainable management of this forest, rather than reforestation activities.

In 2013 CANVIBOSC was published, an unprecedented study which aims to be a tool for the policymaking in designing planning and management  policies adapted to the main climate change impacts. Some of the CANVIBOSC results are: Catalonia has more than 1.3 million hectares of forests, which mean an average carbon sequestration capacity of 1.04 tones C/ha/year between 1990 and 2000. This represents a total carbon sink capacity of 1.27 million tons of carbon per year, and a total stock of 58.735 million tons of carbon.

Catalonia is also one of the participants of FUTURE forest, a European project. FUTURE forest 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 carbon sequestration.

Furthermore, Catalonia recently approved the Strategy to Promote the Energy Use of Forest and Agriculture Biomass 2020. Due to its highly forested territory and the deficit in forest management, the strategy is considered a key to protect the environment and promote zero emissions energy.

Waste management:

The Waste and Resources Prevention and Management General Program 2013-2020 (PRECAT20) aims to achieve a 30% reduction in the carbon footprint of waste management and resources use in Catalonia (based on 2012 levels) and a 15% reduction in primary total waste (including municipalities, industry and building sector) in 2020 and based on 2010 levels.


Catalonia acknowledges the importance of adaptation when tackling climate change. The Catalan Strategy for Adapting to Climate Change 2013-2020 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.

The Strategy has been complimented by the Global Indicator of Climate Change Adaptation in Catalonia, designed to measure how the region is adapting to climate change. The study has 29 key indicators, grouped under the following headings: water management, agriculture and livestock farming, forestry, health, the energy sector, industry, services and commerce, tourism, town planning and housing, mobility and transport infrastructures, research, development and innovation. The subsequent statistical analysis produced a global adaptation indicator quantifying Catalonia's capacity to adapt to climate change in the future. This global indicator is based on two factors: use of resources and environmental quality.

Apart from that, different research projects are conducted to study and improve climate change adaptation in the region. An example is the Life + project called ‘Ebro-ADMICLIM’, which proposes pilot actions of mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the Ebro Delta – an area vulnerable to sea level rises and subsidence. It proposes an integrated management of water, sediments and habitats (rice fields and wetlands).

The government of Catalonia is coordinating another EU Life + project called ‘MEDACC – Adapting the Mediterranean to climate change’, which aims at testing innovative solutions in order to adapt agro-forest and urban systems to climate change in the Mediterranean basin. Expected project results will contribute to quantify how adaptation measures can reduce the vulnerability of natural systems and human activities to climate change. In addition, the project will assess the environmental and economic costs related to the application or non application of adaptation measures.

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 (%):







Dissolvent use and other products




Year: 2012

The Energy sector (75.7 % from total emissions) is made up as follows:

Basque energy

Current power sector mix (%) (Please update the table, and add the year and source. Additional graphs/tables are welcome):
















0.84% (incineration)

2.21% (reduction by animal slurry and waste-water treatment plant)

0.61% (methanisation)

Latest data available from 2009.


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