Climate and the City: Barcelona’s bold example puts Vancouver debates in perspective 

The Thorn

Nov. 12, 2020

Next week, Vancouver City Council will resume debate over proposed climate emergency measures. So far, much of the media discussion has centred around staff proposals for mobility pricing on vehicle traffic in the downtown core and surrounding areas. (“War on the car” hysteria remains a favourite theme of newstalk radio, sadly.) Amidst the noise, it’s easy to lose sight of the key questions: How can we reduce fossil fuel emissions in Vancouver while also delivering equity and social justice, ensuring everyone has the Right to the City? 

(Ada Colau, anti-eviction organizer turned Mayor of Barcelona. Photo: Barcelona En Comu)

Barcelona, governed by leftist mayor Ada Colau, offers a dramatic example of reimagining the city for environmental and social goals. This week the Catalonian city unveiled a new plan to expand pedestrian-first zones to include most of the city centre. As CityLab reported, “Over the next decade, Barcelona will convert its entire central grid into a greener, pedestrian-friendly area almost totally cleared of cars.”