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Aspire Gibraltar

Moderating at Aspire Gibraltar a one day conference to discuss how the territory can develop in a more sustainable way.

Buildings account for 70 percent of carbon emissions in Gibraltar if you include energy used in heating, cooling and to power the buildings. The British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula has a land area of just 6.7km. Its population of 33,000 lives perched around a 1,398 ft limestone ridge (known as the Rock) and space to build is limited. To the consternation of some, high rise developments seen as the solution to scarcity of land are springing up around the city. New arrivals include Gibraltar’s tallest building, a 34-storey tower block, part of a government project for 665 affordable new homes on land reclaimed from the sea.


In 2019 the Gibraltar parliament unanimously declared a climate emergency and the same year published its first Climate Change Act which sets out legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 100% by 2045, with an interim target to reduce emissions by 42% below the baseline by 2030.

The government of Gibraltar says that buildings represent the largest untapped source of cost-effective energy saving and CO2 reduction potential within Europe, so energy-efficient design, renewable energy technologies, water conservation, waste reduction, environmentally friendly and recycled materials could play a big role. Since 2021 all new buildings must be nearly net zero and must achieve a minimum of B in energy performance certificates. In addition, all new builds must have solar panels or other form of renewable energy, air source hot water heat pumps and EV charging points.

All this poses a challenge to developers and the construction industry in terms of costs and technical know-how.

As part of its drive to reach net zero, the government has been renovating old public building stock to improve energy efficiency. It’s also assessing wave power and offshore wind. However Gibraltar’s location as a key route for migratory birds from Africa has so far deterred any investment in on shore wind.

To green the city the government has created four new parks and new cycle lanes.

But with 15,000 workers entering Gibraltar each day by car and many locals owning 2 cars, there could be a rocky road ahead.

Opening the conference Joseph Garcia MP, Deputy Chief minister of Gibraltar said: “We need a revolution in attitudes, approach, technologies and public engagement”.

The political will is there and participants at the conference left enthused and inspired by the discussions. However, to achieve its net zero ambition, the government will also need to win over hearts and minds of local citizens.


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