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Barcelona, last stop on the road to agreement

The selection of Barcelona as the last stop on the road to Copenhagen is most significant. Never before had Catalonia hosted talks of such importance, both from an institutional point of view and, above all, from the environmental, economic and social perspective. And this was not by mere chance. Catalonia’s emission data highlighted that there was a lot of work to be done, that was obvious. But it was also obvious that we are working very hard on this. From the incorporation of 185 Catalan companies into the emissions trading market in 2004, to the creation of the Catalan Office and the Interdepartmental Commission for Climate Change in 2006, to the Catalan Climate Change Convention of 2007 and the approval by the Catalan Government, in 2008, of the Framework Plan for Climate Change Mitigation 2008-2012, the commitment of the Catalan Government is clear and firm. And this commitment is also obvious at an international level: in the European Parliament, through international networks such as nrg4SD (Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development) or The Climate Group, and in the context of coordinating climate policy in Spain, which will take over the Presidency of the EU in January.

The commitment of local government is also clear. The process of the Covenant of Mayors to promote energy efficiency and emissions reduction is linked to a long tradition of environmental awareness raising through local Agenda 21s. Catalan civil society has also taken decisive steps. This has not gone unnoticed in the selection of Barcelona. Nor has Catalonia’s tradition of agreement and commitment to the world. This is therefore a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our collective undertaking for Catalonia to move towards a low-carbon economy that will enable us to approach the causes of climate change and prevent its effects.

The Barcelona talks must serve to favour significant political agreement in Copenhagen. This agreement is the most necessary and complex in history. Never before had a global environmental problem held such significance and such clear effects on the economy, food or urban and mobility models. The fact that it is not simple does not mean it is not possible—since it is essential—and Barcelona must lay the foundations for such an agreement.

For Catalonia there is also another objective. Last December in Poznan (Poland), the Catalan delegation included an amendment in the text of the talks, accepted by all the international networks of subnational governments. This amendment refers to the need for regional and local governments to be recognised in the final agreement, as it is they who have developed many of the public policies made in the fight against climate change. This means that all those public authorities with power in this matter must be active in the enactment of the Copenhagen agreement, as we are in the Kyoto Protocol. The amendment is alive and we will ensure that this recognition is present.

Francesc Baltasar
Minister for the Environment and Housing
President of the Interdepartmental Commission on Climate Change
Government of Catalonia