Such has been the citizen reaction against the sentence of a Barcelona judge that obliges to reverse the remodeling works on Consell de Cent street and return it to traffic and previous smoke, that the promoters of the lawsuit have had to go out to say that they will not demand the execution of the sentence and that their purpose was not to annul the project but to draw attention. Nice way to rectify. Consell de Cent street is the first of the 21 green axes of the Superilla Eixample project promoted by the former mayoress, Ada Colau, in coalition with the Socialists. Approved unanimously by the Government Commission, the project was also validated by the Generalitat. The model has been praised in numerous international forums and you just have to go inside and walk along the long green boulevard to conclude that there are sentences that seem to be handed down from Mars.
In what world does Justice live? Barcelona has been in breach of the community directive on environmental pollution for more than ten years, which is why Spain risks a multimillion-dollar fine. Pollution causes more than a thousand premature deaths annually and 80% of toxic fumes come from traffic. Polluted air and lack of greenery are paid for with poor health. Physical and mental. In addition to advising that traffic be reduced, the WHO warns that for a city to be healthy it must have at least 25% green space, and this must be accessible, so that all citizens have at least one of 500 meters. At the moment, barely 11% of the surface of Barcelona is dedicated to green areas and that percentage includes the Collserola mountain, which is neither close nor exactly easily accessible.
But all this, for the judge who handed down the sentence, has no relevance. She considers, with more than debatable arguments, that for a formal matter what has been done should be undone. The formal question is that this street is classified in the General Metropolitan Plan as a road and, consequently, since a modification has not been requested, the street must be left as it was. Because of this rule of three, most of the city’s pedestrian streets would be illegal.
But the sentence has valued the action and has turned like a boomerang against the plaintiffs, the Barcelona Oberta association, which represents the interests of commercial hubs and tourist promoters. The lawsuit is part of the judicial war waged by certain economic powers against Mayor Ada Colau. This way of proceeding is called lawfare, and it consists of attacking those responsible for the policies that they intend to stop with an avalanche of lawsuits, which normally do not prosper but have an intimidating function. More than a dozen lawsuits and complaints have been filed against Colau and other councilors. Now, given the reaction that the sentence has provoked, the spokesman for Barcelona Oberta has said: “We want to reassure the public: we are not going to ask that the works be reversed, we just want to guarantee car access to the city.” But that is precisely the problem that cities have and that is why a city like London has decided to implement a deterrent toll of 14.5 euros for the most polluting cars.
Climate change is accelerating, to the point that the last ten years are among the warmest on record. In a city like Barcelona, which frequently exceeds the pollution limits, which needs climatic shelters and every summer there are torrid nights in which it is impossible to sleep, going against the new urbanism is going against health and against the future. The only way to reduce pollution and counteract the heat island effect is to remove cars and go green. Lots of green.
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