Archive for July 2007

Speed limits in Barcelona lowered to reduce pollution

July 12, 2007

Via “The Autoblog Green” – Xavier Navarro (Source: El Periodico)


l’eixample (Neighborhood in Barcelona)  Originally uploaded by Fuxxión

In order to fight carbon emissions and get closer to the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, the Catalan Ministry of Environmental Protection (Spain) has enacted a decree that will reduce the maximum speed for cars in the Barcelona metropolitan area from 120 to 80 km/h (75 to 50 mph). The law also sets for a recommendation of a maximum speed of 90 km/h (55 mph) in the so-called “second road ring” of the city metropolitan area. In order to implement this law, all the administrations (national, regional and local) will have to change the road signs as well as tune the speed cameras and radars next fall.

This measure resembles the strict 55-mph limits that the US implemented after the 1973 Oil Crisis, but the focus of this bill is more centered in clean air than in savings. Current NOx and particullate EU standards are 40 micrograms per cubic meter but, at times, current levels exceed 50. In Spain, transport is responsible of 40 to 52 percent of air pollution, affirms the Spanish Industry Ministry. The estimates are that lowering the speed limit from 120 to 80 km/h will reduce air pollution by 30 percent.

Other measures that the Catalan government will implement along with this speed reduction are: mobility plans for all companies with more than 500 workers (such as free chartered buses), using energy efficient machinery in ports and airports and the substitution of public vehicles with hybrids, CNG or at least biofuels.


Spanish firm to sell ‘clean’ electricity to California

July 9, 2007

Originally uploaded by D1976

Via Power Encounter and the IHT:

Union Fenosa, Spain’s third-biggest electricity company, has announced a substantial investment in a wind farm in Mexico, near the US border, with a view to supply power to California. The company said that California is an ideal market for this clean energy, since the law stipulates that by 2010, 20% of the power consumed by the state must be environmentally friendly.

The investment for “La Rumorosa”(“The whisperer”) wind farm in the state of Baja California amounts to €600 million (US$806 million). It will produce 500 MW, that could reach 1,100 MW in 2010, depending on agreements entered with US companies. 

Union Fenosa has acquired 50% of the capital of Mexican company Zemer Energía to develop and operate this wind farm in partnership. Union Fenosa planned total investment in renewables in Mexico is projected at around 1.2 bln eur to 2011, with a targeted generating capacity of up to 1300 megawatts. Another wind energy park will be built by Union Fenosa in Oaxaca, to produce 250 megawatts.

California‘s efforts to try and combat global warming by capping greenhouse gas emissions have been in the spotlight since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state’s legislative Democrats reached the deal to cut emissions in August 2006.

 Schwarzenegger made California the first U.S. state to limit greenhouse gases, and has signed agreements with other state and foreign governments in a bid to address global warming.


Union Fenosa intends to capitalize on California‘s requirement for “green” energy by exploiting Mexico‘s 2,700 hours per year of useful sunlight.

Spain plants trees to offset its greenhouse gases

July 7, 2007

El Nogal (The Walnut tree)

Originally uploaded by Protopito



Two of Spain‘s regional governments and its capital city plan to plant millions of trees to help offset the impact of the country’s spiralling greenhouse gas emissions, environment officials said on Thursday.

Spain is allowed an increase of 15 percent in its carbon dioxide emissions but the government estimates that it will be facing one of 37 percent in the 2008-12 period. It aims to offset 20 percentage points of that via United Nations-approved clean energy projects in developing countries, and a further 2 points by planting trees.

Some of the country’s regional and local governments are leading the way.

Castilla-La Mancha, an extensive, rural region on Spain‘s central plain, has already increased its forested area by 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) to 5 million hectares, its Environment Councillor told in a conference.

It now plans to plant 20 million trees in the next four years, he said.


Madrid, despite its traffic, already is one of the cities with most parks and gardens in the world. It promises more green spaces and plans to create hanging, vertical gardens to cover buildings. “We will also plant 1.5 million trees, which will absorb 9,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year,” the head of the city hall’s environmental department, said. Officials said this project would be accomplished within the term of the four-year legislature just starting.




The Basque Country is funding the planting of 250,000 trees in Kenya between 2006 and 2009, the regional government’s environment councillor Esther Larrañaga said. It will also plant 10,000 new trees in the Basque Country itself, a mountainous region on the north coast of Spain, she told the conference on climate change, hosted by the New Economy Forum.



These are good news for the people behind the “1st International Meeting for Friends of Trees” recently held in Spain (June 23rd). Their objective: To plant 100 million trees in 4 years. Some of the participants were Vandana Shiva, WWF, Greenpeace and Al Gore.


The vice president had a busy agenda in Spain: besides being a speaker at this meeting, he received the Principe de Asturias award for International Cooperation and was also a guest of honor at the II International Conference on Climate Change & Wine.

Bike crazy in Barcelona

July 1, 2007


Bicycle Docking Station in Barcelona – Courtesy of Bicing

When a new transportation system, involving bikes, was inaugurated some months ago in Barcelona, there were some doubts about the outlook for this option. Nevertheless, the response has exceeded expectations. The system, that goes by the name of “Bicing“, has become extremely popular, with 50,000 users registered so far in the first 3 months (most updated figures).

To be able to use one of the bikes, a user must first register an account online. The first 30 minutes of bike use are free After 2 hours the bike must be taken back to a parking slot in one of the stations around the city, normally connecting to train and bus stations. 

The success of this system shows that people really are willing to use the bikes, so long as they are easily available (there are soon going to be a thousand five hundred bikes in service and 100 stations in Barcelona) .

Considering the high cost of gas,  there are many cities in the United States with moderate weather and a bustling downtown area where this system might be a good idea. (See AutoblogGreen) Some more bike routes would certainly be needed, but this option would tackle several problems at once (getting to do some exercise would of course be one of them)