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Cooltorise final events in Barcelona and Madrid: inspiring experiences of resilience against Summer Energy Poverty

In April, Cooltorise, the first Horizon 2020 project aimed at addressing summer energy poverty, concluded its final local events in Barcelona and Madrid.

During the Madrid gathering, organized by the Scientific Culture Unit of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, participants focused on sharing experiences and insights related to citizen empowerment activities. These included workshops covering topics such as understanding energy bills, promoting a culture of heat management, and implementing concrete interventions in public spaces.

Various grassroots movements shared their experiences as citizen-led initiatives to revitalize neighborhoods and promote energy access as a fundamental right, took part. #NoalaTala explained their actions for the preservation of trees and to stimulate dialogue on how such initiatives foster ecological consciousness and community cohesion. La Termometrada showed their activities measuring the temperature across different city areas and shedding light on significant temperature variations between neighborhoods. Similarly, Bloques en transición, underscored the potential for local communities to activate collective resilience mechanisms, aiming to mitigate the ecological and social impacts of crises.

The event held in Madrid also replicated the interactive nature of Cooltorise workshops, discussing with citizens strategies to combat summer heat. These strategies encompassed various measures, from increasing greenery to providing access to climate shelters equipped with shading, humidification, and water sources. Within this framework, proposals emerged, such as enhancing vegetation in squares, playgrounds, and facades, alongside initiatives like opening parks at night and installing water diffusers. Throughout the day, the importance of actively listening not only to citizens’ concerns but also to their suggestions for solving these issues became evident. Moreover, acknowledging citizens’ everyday eco-experiences as valuable sources of knowledge was underscored as essential.

For its part, in Barcelona, ABD and Ecoserveis organized a new edition of the Sustainable Energy Forum, focused on Urban Climate Resilience, on April 26. The conference was also the final event for Cooltorise and Climate Pact.

The meteorologist, communicator and ambassador of the European Climate Pact Isabel Moreno, opened the day with a conference in which she pointed out the main evidence of climate change in terms of rising temperatures. She highlighted, for example, the case of Catalonia, where more and more temperatures of over 40 degrees and more tropical and torrid nights are being recorded. For Moreno, it is essential to understand climate change from its social dimension, and not only from a meteorological point of view. She recalled that “the postal code is more important than the genetic code” when it comes to measuring the consequences of heat and she conveyed a final message of urgency and hope to “imagine the best future possible and move towards it”.

After the inaugural conference, a series of initiatives and programs to deal with the heat were presented. The first one was the Network of Climate Shelters of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. Its representative, Elena Lacort, pointed out that this summer there will be 158 shelters in 22 municipalities. Second, Filka Sekulova, from the Coolschools, analyzed the impacts of the naturalization of school environments. She presented evidence of its positive effects, not only on heat resilience, but also from a pedagogical point of view and from a social justice perspective. For initiatives such as this, drought or budgetary difficulties pose serious problems that undermine their chances of real impact in the long term. Next, Mònica Plana (ABD) and Clara Ferrer (Ecoserveis) showed the positive impacts of the Cooltorise project, mostly in empowering citizens to implement activities to tackle and adapt to climate change. The culmination of the round table was the presentation of the Barcelona City Council’s climate plan by Mar Campanero, which includes local heat mitigation and adaptation measures.

The second part of the morning focused on the challenges posed by climate adaptation. Tamara Iungman, from ISGlobal, spoke about urban strategies for adapting to heat and, in particular, the benefits of vegetation. Secondly, Miguel Núñez, from the Habitat, Energy and Architecture in Transition research group of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, identified the differences between the different areas of each city with respect to heat vulnerability and, with this, put on the table the need to improve public space. María Cruz Ferreira, Secretary of Energy, Sustainability and Climate Action from the region of Murcia, presented the solutions being implemented in the area in the south of Spain, particularly in relation to drought. The round table was closed by Emilio Servera, from the València Clima i Energia Foundation, who explained the plans and strategies of this region to adapt to the summer heat. Finally, Jordi Cipriano, from CIMNE, presented the advantages of the vulnerability map being created within the framework of the Climate Ready Barcelona project.

These were very profitable conferences that addressed the phenomenon of summer energy poverty in Europe from an interdisciplinary perspective and adapted to the needs of each territory.

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