At the end of a week in which we have shivered in some of the coldest temperatures for decades, I am sure many people will wonder why I am off to Cancun to a major international summit on global warming.
The answer lies in the fact that weather is a very different beast to climate, and that when we talk about climate change we are talking about changes in the long-term averages of daily weather.
Despite the current cold temperatures, 2010 looks set to be one of, if not the, warmest year on record. Whilst this may be hard to understand we know that our climate is changing.
We also know that climate change will cause more extreme weather – we are already seeing much more flooding in the UK, Australia suffered terrible bush fires earlier this year and we are experiencing this early cold snap.
There is a clear scientific case that the change in climate is being caused by the behaviour of humans and that the rate of change has increased significantly over the last 200 years and since the Industrial Revolution.
Here in the Welsh Assembly Government we take the issue of climate change very seriously and are taking action to tackle it. We established a Climate Change Commission in 2007 to help build a consensus on climate change action, and recently I appointed an independent Chair to the Commission, proving that we are happy for our approach to be scrutinised.
We are also leading the way with our Climate Change Strategy which sets out exactly how we will manage our fight against climate change and achieve our ambition of a 3% year on year reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The strategy is very much about delivery and includes detailed plans showing the action we will take both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help Wales adapt and become resilient to its changing climate.
Of course we cannot work alone on this. We must show leadership but the strategy makes clear that people, communities and businesses across Wales have a critical part to play.
Because whilst climate change is a global issue, action at a local level is crucial if we are to tackle it properly, and there are lots of examples of projects here in North Wales where people are taking a common sense approach to looking after the world’s resources. The Moelyci Environmental centre for example, which manages its outstanding natural resources to the highest environmental standards, and the Crest Co-operative in Conwy, an award winning recycling partnership that rescues building materials from landfill.
I welcome the opportunity to be part of the UK delegation for Cancun and am pleased to be part of the UK effort to get the global climate talks back on track.
Whilst in Cancun I will certainly be emphasising the importance of local action, and the need for sub-national governments like Wales to be represented at international discussions on this global issue, because the truth is that the majority of delivery levers lie at our level of government.
I will also be promoting the Welsh approach to reducing Wales’ carbon footprint, outlined in our Climate Change Strategy and in our energy policy document, ‘A Low Carbon Revolution’. Although Wales is a small nation, we really do have lots to shout about and I am keen to share some of the exciting work that we are taking forward.