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A “low carbon economy” and acceptance of a “shared responsibility” – the basis of the strategy of the Basque Country in the struggle against climate change

2010 June 3

Unzalu appeals to all government bodies "to accept our part of the responsibility" as between "50% and 80% of the decisions to be adopted in this field are taken at a local or regional level"


Up to 2050, climate change will cause an increase in maximum temperatures in the Basque Country of between 1.5 ºC and 3.5ºC and in minimum temperatures of between 1ºC  and 3ºC


Temperatures will increase by 4º in Donostia and 4.7º in Vitoria


Rainfall will decrease by 0,7% every decade, while extreme precipitations will increase by between 5% and 20% in winter and will drop by between 30% and 50% in summer


The coastline in beach areas will retreat by between 11 and 13 m by the middle of the 21st century


"More than a burden, it is an opportunity". This is the way that the Minister of the Environment, Regional Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries, Pilar Unzalu, defines the fact that "between 50% and 80% of the decisions to be taken" in the struggle against climate change, are the responsibility of local and regional government bodies. Unzalu encouraged institutions "to be aware" of this situation "in order to know the role institutions must play" and "make use of the dynamism and speed of governments and cities to advance towards the implementation of a sustainable model and a low carbon economy". She added, "The Basque Government's strategy is based on a country of free citizens, in which solidarity is a key factor to guarantee a better, sustainable and competitive future for future generations".


The Minister for the Environment, Regional Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries, Pilar Unzalu, spoke at the inaugural session of the climate change seminars being held today and tomorrow at the Europa Conference centre in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Besides the Minister, the inaugural session was attended by the Secretary of State for Climate Change, Teresa Rivera Rodriguez, and the Mayor of Vitoria, Patxi Lazcoz.


Following the inauguration, the Minister delivered a speech in which she analysed the current situation of the Basque Country and the tools available in order to combat climate change.
Unzalu encouraged regional governments "to share the responsibility" in efforts to meet the European target to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, despite the fact that "there are no binding commitments". The Minister highlighted the need for "strong political leadership" to enable the establishment of sustainability criteria in all government activities. In the case of the Basque Country, this is reflected in the Urdaibai Declaration of June 2009 and the strategies deriving from the EcoEuskadi 2020 plan.


That strategy is based on the "responsibility" of the Basque Country to contribute to the work being done by the international community and to accept its share of the responsibility to reduce emissions. The government shares the "clear aim" of advancing towards a "low carbon" economy. Unzalu emphasised the importance of acting in a determined manner to deal with a phenomenon that will affect everyone: "countries, societies, ecosystems, organisations and biological populations". In fact, in the case of the Basque Country, the strategic research project K-Egoikitzen assessed the impact of climate change on the Basque Country.


In the Basque Country, climate change will take the form of a decrease in annual mean precipitation of 7% per decade up to 2050 and a 10% increase in extreme precipitations (daily). The increase in winter is estimated at between 5% and 20%, and the decrease in summer at between 30% and 50%. Maximum extreme temperatures at the end of the century may arise between 1.5ºC and 3.5ºC and minimum extreme temperatures by between 1ºC and 3ºC.


A slight increase in the frequency and duration of heat waves is also expected. The "urban heat island" effect would increase the thermal impact in the cities of the Basque Country. This is estimated at 4ºC in Donostia and 4.7ºC in Vitoria-Gasteiz. This thermal increase may involve a greater risk of extreme fires.


The increase in sea levels will also be significant, causing the coastline to retreat in beach areas by between 11 and 13 m by the middle of the 21st-century.

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Politicians attending the event
(IX term 2009 - 2012)
  • Pilar Unzalu
    Consejera de Medio Ambiente, Planificación Territorial, Agricultura y Pesca (IX term)
Other guests
  • Pilar Unzalu, consejera