Udalsarea 2030 publishes guidelines for drawing up local climate & energy plans


Udalsarea 2030 (the Basque Network of Sustainable Municipalities) has published a set of guidelines to help Basque municipal councils draw up local climate and energy plans. This new local planning instrument for mitigating and adapting to climate change is part of the Urban Klima 2050 LIFE-integrated project. The approach and contents used have been checked out with several municipal and supra-municipal councils in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (CAPV) at a number of workshops organised by Ihobe, the publicly run environmental management company answerable to the Basque Government and by the EVE (Basque Energy Board).

The Guidelines for Drawing up Local Climate & Energy Plans in the Basque Country provide a clear, concise methodological framework for municipal and supra-municipal councils in making use of the resources and instruments available to them to combat climate change at local level under current and future regulations. It can help any municipality of supra-municipal area to prepare local climate and energy plans, whatever their starting point and whatever progress they may already have made towards adaptation and mitigation. The municipalities signed up to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy may base their efforts on this method, which will guide them in meeting the planning and reporting requirements of the Covenant.

The guidelines are part of the Urban Klima 2050 LIFE Integrated Project, where they are among the actions for providing local authorities with tools and training. Among other goals, the Urban Klima 2050 LIFE IP seeks to design instruments for making it easier to take climate action at the municipal and supra-municipal levels. To that end, Udalsarea 2030 has been working to update the tools for calculating municipal GHG emissions, adapting them to analyse climate risk at supra-municipal level and developing this set of guidelines, among other actions. 

Structure of the guidelines

The Guidelines for Drawing up Local Climate & Energy Plans in the Basque Country comprise four chapters plus a few annexes. Chapter One details the goals pursued and the target audience. Chapter Two sets out the strategic framework and European, national and regional regulations used as a basis for preparing local climate & energy plans. Chapter Three outlines the approach and the key points to be used in preparing the guidelines.

Chapter Four gives the actual guidelines and resources for drawing up plans. It does so in five steps, detailing the tasks involved in each one. Each step includes a subsection on recommendations, and some also detail practical resources for engaging the public throughout the process. There is also a map of the tools available to municipal and supra-municipal authorities in the CAPV to help them undertake local climate & energy plans. Finally, there is a list of methodological points to help clarify certain issues and concepts in the guidelines.

What is a local climate & energy plan?

A local climate & energy plan is a long-term local planning instrument that covers action for both mitigating and adapting to climate change from an overall municipal viewpoint.

Along with helping in local efforts in these areas, a local climate & energy plan also pursues other goals, e.g. to produce a vision and strategic objectives in regard to climate action and a fair energy transition at town halls. It also seeks to ensure compliance with current and future regulations, to draw up and prioritise actions in the coming years from an overall perspective, to facilitate and encourage a more cross-sectoral approach involving different areas of municipal councils and to foster action by the public in favour of the climate and energy transition.

The wording of local climate & energy plans must therefore include at least the following: a diagnostic analysis of mitigation and adaptation from a perspective that takes in all sectors and areas of the municipality; a clear strategy for bringing together the goals and objectives to be attained; detailed planning of measures for mitigating and adapting to climate change; and a system for monitoring the implementation of those measures.

On that basis, the Guidelines for Drawing up Local Climate & Energy Plans in the Basque Country launched by Udalsarea 2030 (the Basque Network of Sustainable Municipalities) provide an approach, a method and tools for the municipal and supra-municipal councils of the CAPV to get going and draw up their own plans.

This initiative is led by Ihobe, the publicly-run environmental management company attached to the Basque Government Department of Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, in coordination with the EVE (Basque Energy Board) under the framework of Udalsarea 2030 and the Urban Klima 2050 LIFE IP.

Climate change-related efforts at municipal level

Basque municipalities have a long track record of action on climate change, focused first on mitigation. However, thanks to the resources developed in the context of Udalsarea 2030, local action on adaptation to climate change is also increasing steadily.

The Basque Climate Change Strategy for 2050 (Klima 2050) and the Energy Sustainability Act of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, which sets out specific obligations on matters of energy, mark the path to be taken for progress on climate action. The future regional-level Energy Transition and Climate Change Act will close the political and regulatory circle and complete the guidance available to Basque municipalities in their climate change policies.

On a broader scope, the UN's 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement lay out the strategic path for the next ten years for local action in favour of the climate and sustainability. This framework will receive further legislative support from a number of laws which have just been passed or are currently working their way through parliamentary procedures at the time of publication of these guidelines, such as the European Climate law, Climate Change and Energy Transition Act submitted by Spain's central government and, at the level of the Basque Country, the Basque Energy Transition and Climate Change Act.

The guidelines can be found in Ihobe - Publications - Guide for drawing up municipal and regional plans for mitigating and adapting to climate change