Spain: Model Community Climate Mitigation Programs



VITORIA-GASTEIZ (VG) is a community in Alava province with 253.093 citizens and 280 km2. VG is an industrial area in the north of Spain that is making efforts to mitigate climate change. They live in a high-risk area for climate change hazards.

According to high-resolution climate scenarios, temperatures in VG are expected to increase by 4 ºC by the end of this century. Due to this, total annual precipitation is likely to decrease, and the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are expected to increase significantly: rain and river flooding, heat waves, droughts and extreme winds will be the primary hazards affecting the community.

Therefore, for a long time, citizens in VG have been developing a highly compromised adaptation and mitigation process with the community in a well-represented, integrated and collaborative manner. Due to its commitment to implementing climate change policy and sustainable development goals, in 2012, VG was recognised by the European Union as the “European green capital”, the only Spanish community to get this prestigious recognition. Furthermore, in 2020, VG was named the #1 sustainable community by the Spanish Net for Sustainable Development (REDS), the representative in Spain for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a United Nations global initiative.


Since VG started its climate change and energy sustainability roadmap in 2006, it has been setting targets through local plans and strategies to promote energy transition and climate action in the community. One step towards achieving these goals was the so-called Plan to Combat Climate Change (2010-2020), establishing the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25.7 % 2020 compared to 2006 emissions. Eventually, this reduction was 31.4 %, which means a reduction of more than 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent per inhabitant per year.

In 2020 VG City Council approved its 2021/2030 Plan for Climate and Sustainable Energy (PACES). PACES is integrated into the Action Plan for Integrated Energy Transition (PATEI), which aims to mitigate GHG emissions, and the Action Plan to Climate Change Adaptation (PAACC), which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

PACES aims to achieve a GHG emissions reduction of 61.5 % and a net GHG emissions reduction of 83 % compared to 2006 emissions. The community undertook   100 actions in 13 strategic areas to achieve the abovementioned objectives. Many of the actions included in PACES have a bearing on new governance. They seek to align municipal efforts, so they become an active part of the energy transition and local adaptation to the impacts of climate change. PACES data will be monitored every two years, and the plan will be reviewed in 2023 and 2027.

The main PACES program weakness is that the province’s most important energy consumer sector, industry (43%), is not included in their program.


VG city council departments working on PACES use LEAP, the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning system, endorsed by the United Nations. LEAP is a software tool for energy policy analysis and climate change mitigation assessment used to track energy consumption, production, and resource extraction in all sectors of an economy.


VG achieved an 11% CO2 reduction in CO2 emissions from transportation in 2017; 29% reduction in 2020 (COVID effect)

Waste Management

They reduced 63% of CO2 emitted per unit of energy consumed.

Land conservation and forest sequestration

All inhabitants of VG have a green area less than 300 meters from their houses. This has helped produce  “The Green Belt”, a group of periurban parks of high ecological and landscape value strategically linked using eco-recreational corridors.

The Green Belt is the result of an ambitious project initiated in the early 1990s to restore and recover the outlying areas of Vitoria-Gasteiz, both from the environmental and social viewpoint, to create a large green area for recreational use around the city.


Among many others, we name:

  • Public service companies in VG: water, energy, transport, etc.
  • Ecologist group “Gaia”
  • Agroecologic group “Basaldea”
  • Tecnalia Foundation
  • Red Clima.
  • VG City Council is leading PACES

Andrés Alonso López is the environmental officer responsible at VG City Council.


Submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Juanjo Santos.


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