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Voluntary agreements with companies: a tool for climate change mitigation

When it comes to climate change, we are used to hearing representatives of states and international organisations declare and warn of the negative consequences we will suffer if we fail to meet greenhouse gas reduction commitments. With this panorama, the public may feel that they have little to say on the matter and that it is governments that have to solve the problem. Certainly, governments and institutions must do their job, but that does not stop the rest of us from being aware of the reality and of our ability to do our bit.

What is behind discussions on climate change is the acceptance that the growth model of developed countries to date has reached its highest point. We have been part directly or indirectly in the irresponsible consumption of natural resources and in the unfair distribution of this consumption, where 20% of the population consumes 80% of resources. In addition, scientists have brought evidence that this behaviour is altering the climate, with serious socials, environmental and economic consequences.

It is time to act. The Government of Catalonia took a significant step in 2008 when it approved the Framework Plan for Climate Change Mitigation in Catalonia 2008-2012 in order to contribute, proportionally, to Spain’s compliance with the Protocol Kyoto.

The Plan includes many actions, of which I would like to highlight one: the voluntary agreements between business and government currently being developed. Through these agreements, companies and institutions undertake to measure their CO2 emissions and establish measures for their reduction, beyond their obligations under regulations. For its part, the Government of Catalonia will foster these efforts and establish mechanisms for public recognition.

All companies and institutions can take part, they can all contribute to reducing their carbon footprint. In short, they can all help to improve and reduce Catalonia’s impact on climate change. Together we can build a more sustainable Catalonia.

Salvador Samitier
Director of the Catalan Office for Climate Change