Basque Country Steps up as international climate leader

Elena Moreno, Deputy Minister for Environment, Basque Government
Reading time: 5 minutes
18 February 2019

In this blog, Elena Moreno, Deputy Minister for Environment, Basque Government, sets out what The Basque Country is doing to tackle climate change and why they are hosting an international climate change conference next month.

The Basque Country is one of the regions leading the climate action agenda in Europe. We are committed to promoting a low carbon socioeconomic model to minimise our vulnerability to climate change and support our move towards a sustainable economy.

Ahead of the Paris Agreement in 2015, we joined the Under2 Coalition of states and regions committed to keep global temperature rise to well below 2°C and kickstarted our transition to a low carbon economy with the adoption of robust climate change policies.

We published our Climate Change Strategy to 2050 in 2015 and from 2016-2018 participated in The Energy Transition Platform to share learning with other states and regions in the Under2 Coalition on developing and implementing clean energy policies. For example, from The Basque Country other governments were able to learn about our smart grid project, through which we created an economic and environmental opportunity from a legislative obligation by rolling out smart meters and modernizing our grid.

Changing the Change

This year, the Basque Country has stepped up to contribute to the international debate by organising an event which will gather institutions, companies, civil society and citizens to discuss the challenge that we face as a society to drastically reduce our emissions.   

Coming under the UN “Momentum for Change” initiative and in line with the Paris Agreement, the Basque Government, in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition, as well as the Gipuzkoa County Council and the Donostia-San Sebastián City Council will host an international conference on climate change,Change the Change.

From 6 to 8 March 2019 international experts will meet to present success stories, new business models and the initiatives and actions that are making a difference. Structured into eight thematic sessions, the conference programme will discuss the topics of:  Planet Health & Science, Regional Environmental Action, Pioneer Cities, Sustainability Agenda, Climate Culture & Education, Energy Transition, the New Economic Paradigm and Women in leadership.

During the conference we also look forward to welcoming fellow member governments from the Under2 Coalition including Scotland, Lombardy, and Baden-Württemberg. In the ‘Regional Environmental Action’ session these regions will discuss their experience of fighting climate change and their approach to the main challenges. 

A forum for debate at the highest level, “Change the Change” will have climate action ambassadors and experts including: Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics; Connie Hedegaard, Former European Commissioner for Climate Action and Chair of the Board at KR Foundation; and María Neira, Director of the Public Health and Environment Department at WHO among many others.

Connecting to our citizens

The conference aims to engage citizens to embrace the personal commitment to fight climate change, on the premise that any action, however small, makes a difference. In order to do so, the conference will take place during the first Basque Climate Week, have a strong social media presence using the hashtag #changethechange19, and launch the Basque Government’s guide of 52 tips to combat climate change.

The Change Up Network

The Basque Country has also gathered international networks working on climate change as supporters of the event as part of the initiative “Change Up Network”. The initiative already has the participation of: The Climate Group, Nrg4SD, Aclima, ENCORE, ICLEI, CONAMA, ECODES, REDS, Globernance and Community for Climate.

To find out more about the conference and follow all the updates, please visit or join the conversation in the social media with the hashtag #changethechange19

We look forward to welcoming you in Donostia/San Sebastián!

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