As a densely populated megacity, Buenos Aires City faces the challenges of improving energy efficiency, adopting sustainable transportation and reducing landfill waste disposal. The City has seen rapid unplanned urbanisation occur since the 1950s, some in high-flood risk areas inhabited by low-income social groups. This unplanned growth has led to a lack of efficiency in services and infrastructure, housing shortages and occupation of unsuitable areas, increasing citizen vulnerability and risk. Given predications of increasing frequency and intensity of heavy rain fall and heat waves from climate change models, Buenos Aires must address the problems facing vulnerable populations.
The first implementation phase of the 2010-2015 climate action strategy is estimated to have resulted in a reduction of 450,000 tons CO2e. Waste management initiatives, including decreasing transportation to landfills, creating waste treatment plants and promoting domestic separation and recycling resulted in avoiding 181,000 tons CO2e. To reduce energy consumption, the city encouraged energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in public buildings and incorporated LED technology in public lighting. The strategy calls for consideration of sustainability criteria in public purchasing and the city continues to promote energy efficiency in residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Action towards energy efficiency is reported to have reduced emissions by 96,000 tons CO2e.
Buenos Aires is also working to improve transport options through its Sustainable Mobility Plan, estimated to have reduced emissions by 174, 000 tons CO2e. This plan has seen extensions of public transport preferential lanes, Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), bicycle lanes, the subway system and the city’s free bicycle public system. Pedestrian priority areas have also been extended.
Climate mitigation actions are designed under the following pillars: improving health systems; increasing green areas; developing reservoir and hydraulic projects; improving emergency responsiveness; and extending networks. These measure are not only having direct effects to reduce climate vulnerability but also yield broad co-benefits. Noise, light and air pollution have been reduced along with the heat island effect and the associated burden on the health care system. Projects have promoted more sustainable consumption practices and promoted incorporation of sustainability criteria in social urban planning and construction. Development of the newest iteration of the plan, with the incorporation of the GPC inventory, has increased technical knowledge in the city and led to actions which foster social equity and inclusion.
Buenos Aires hopes that actions stemming from its 2015-2020 strategy will stimulate a dialogue with citizens on the pursuit of low carbon lifestyles. Continuing with action started in 2010, the city government plans to reduce emission by 30% by 2030, via a 10% reduction in 2020. The city must work to implement new projects, including those under a new pillar of urban tree planting, whilst ensuring productive continuity of those initiated in the previous plan period.
The biggest challenge for the city in terms of climate projections is the increase in frequency and intensity of heavy rain and heat waves events. The city is working to identify vulnerable areas, and predicts that its projects will reduce the impact of floods and heat waves, as well as improving emergency response. The 2015-2020 strategy’s Integral Risk Management formulation will assist the city in analysing possible scenarios, determining risk levels, and identifying relevant government departments to ensure effective emergency response.
By developing a transdisciplinary and integral strategy, the city hope to engender a ‘climate change lens’ bought to planning across more city departments. The strategy gives the city a planning framework under which to set – and constantly update – its actions in accordance with its long term Climate Action Plan to 2030.