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Welcome from the Minister, Francesc Baltasar i Albesa

It is a pleasure and a great honour for me, as Minister for the Environment and Housing of the Government of Catalonia, to welcome you to Catalonia and the Barcelona Climate Change Talks.

Combating climate change has become one of the great challenges facing mankind in the twenty-first century. The scientific community tells us quite clearly that it is urgent and essential that we move against climate change. There can be no more debates about the need to act. Climate change is an unequivocal reality.

Now it is our turn, we have a responsibility to act, have a responsibility to do everything that must be done to face up to this challenge as the scientific community urges. Likewise, the agreement to be reached in Copenhagen will be the post complex global environmental treaty in history. We can see that, the distance we have covered since the Bali Action Plan has shown us how difficult it is to find common ground. But we will not lose hope; our responsibility is so great that we cannot fail.

Catalonia and Barcelona have been outstanding throughout history for being open to the world, a meeting place, a space for agreement, a land of welcome. I hope that the spirit of Catalonia and Barcelona affects us all and helps us, so that this week of talks may be useful and contribute to our reaching the best of agreements in Copenhagen.

As a Minister of the Government of Catalonia I cannot, nor do I wish, to miss the chance to remind you of the role we play, along with local governments, before the challenge of climate change. The agreements reached by the states will be developed, in part, by the other actors in government agencies and the private sector. Everyone has a fundamental role to play and many of the key policies for the effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the areas of mobility, waste management, housing, industry or agriculture, amongst others, must be implemented on a regional and local scale. In adaptation policies the governments that are closes to the citizens will better understand the impact and will be better able to define the measures for adaptation. A territorial approach and subsequent rescaling of objectives is a guarantee of efficiency and will establish a framework of confidence and security for the transition towards a low-carbon economy.

In Catalonia, Government and society have assumed their responsibility. For this reason, in a concerted and coordinated manner, from the centre of government we are developing a framework plan to reduce our emissions. This plan is consistent with Spain’s commitments in the European sphere and aims to foster and execute measures for climate change mitigation that can and must be taken in Catalonia. We need a firm agreement in Copenhagen if we are to continue working in this direction. To continue developing structural measures for the transition to a low-carbon economy, beyond the current situation to which the economic crisis has led us and, as a central instrument to overcome it.

Authorities, delegates, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Catalonia, it is pleasure to have you here. I hope you feel at home here and that this helps us to advance firmly in these talks. Copenhagen is close; Barcelona is the last stop. As I said before, now it’s our turn, this is our responsibility. We must reach the best of agreements in Copenhagen.

Let us work well!