Climate change commits us to action on local, national and European levels

During a press conference in Birżebbuġa the Chairperson of ADPD – The Green Party Sandra Gauci highlighted that the polls have consistently shown that the electorate is mainly preoccupied with climate change, apart from the corruption that has gripped the country.  She mentioned how the party is committed to push for an effective policy for reform to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We want an economy of well-being, not an economy that fattens the pockets of those who are polluting the air, water, land and the environment. We want those who pollute to pay and to clean up the pollution and not continue to make us sick. It is obvious that the whole country is affected by the impacts of climate change, and from direct experience we can say that it means weather extremes, from floods to long-term drought, and an average temperature that is constantly increasing. We have no choice but to act now. We are already late. Birżebbuġa is one of the localities affected both by pollution, and also by the effects of climate change.”

The Deputy Chairperson of ADPD – The Green Party Carmel Cacopardo explained how last year was the hottest year in recorded history.  “The Mediterranean, in particular, is very badly affected. All this has an impact on every aspect of our lives. The drought and high temperatures are disrupting farming and as a consequence it is inevitable that the local product will become scarce, and prices will rise. This is all a result of climate change.”

“The continuous rise in temperatures is slowly transforming the Maltese climate into a tropical climate. This change brings great challenges for public health administration because a rising temperature will expose the country to tropical diseases as well. Today we are in Birżebbuġa and it is good to focus on another important aspect in connection with this coastal village.  The increase in the average global temperature is melting the ice at the poles and as a consequence the sea level will inevitably rise. This is a threat to all the communities that live along the coast just above sea level.  It is also a threat to all the infrastructure we have along the coast, primarily the touristic part which is concentrated along the coast.  It also greatly affects the maritime infrastructure in our ports, including that of the Free Port here in Birżebbuġa.”

“This is the context that must be addressed by the Green Plan of the European Union (EU Green Deal). It is a plan that addresses the impacts of climate change in a way that reduces the impacts that this change has on everyone’s quality of life. At the beginning of this year, measures came into force to address air pollution from large ships sailing in European waters.  Although this was necessary so as to address climate impacts in the shipping sector, it will also affect the Free Port. When these measures came into force, it was clear that at European Union level the Maltese Government did nothing to mitigate the effects of this measure with focused aid measures from the EU.  The Government that says it puts Malta first and foremost has not said anything for months and has left everyone in the dark. This is a case where the regiment of public officials that the Government has in Brussels and the four European members of parliament of the Labour Party have shown that they were worth nothing because they kept their mouths shut, because they did not realize what was going on.”

“If long-term planning had been done, the Freeport would have been on the road to converting parts of its operation to be more ecologically friendly, and the government would also have seen how workers are trained for new jobs. What the government certainly cannot and should not do is to disrupt the transition of the goods industry towards a cleaner industry. It is the people of Birżebbuġa who suffer the effects of the use of heavy fuel oil by huge ships berthed at the port. Or is it perhaps a matter of this government actually supporting the use of heavy fuel oil that it so rightly criticized in the past?”

Dr Melissa Bagley, Deputy Chairperson and candidate for the Birżebbuġa local council said that Birżebbuġa has seen considerable industrial development that has taken its toll on the locality.  “The latest project on the drawing board is the Qajjenza application to redevelop for speculative purposes the former Enemalta gas storage facility.  This disused facility covers around 24,000 square metres of land which is now mostly government-owned.  However, instead of giving the residents of Qajjenza a sorely-needed public area for community needs, this land is now up for grabs by developers who want to have the local plans re-zoned to allow a massive development consisting of six buildings up to eight stories in height.  This rezoning is for the purpose of having buildings for commercial and residential use, and not for community purposes. So instead of giving the residents the much-needed open space they need for recreational purposes, they are now faced with the prospect of having hundreds of flats added to the area, which is bound to affect their quality of life.  So here we see that the government is keen on putting profit before people.

Yesterday NGOs reiterated their call for a withdrawal of the planning control application which seeks to provide a planning framework for intensive development of the site (PC/00022/23). ADPD joins the NGOs and underlines that the site is most suitable for community facilities. The fact that most of the site is already in public ownership should facilitate the decision which government has so far avoided.  Government should not facilitate speculation of public land as has been the case so far.”

Sandra Gauci closed by asserting that “it’s in your interest to strive for a quality of life better for everyone, namely that the European Union strengthens the Ecological and Social Pact. It’s in your interest that Malta is at the forefront of the journey towards a better quality of life for you, for us and for our children. It’s in your interest to seriously fight the effects of climate change on Malta, because the fields are becoming a desert, the land is drying up, the storms are getting worse, marine life is slowly dying and the heat is increasing. Whatever they tell you, it is in your interest that the European Union reduces carbon emissions and other gases quickly. We the Greens work and insist on continuing on the road to zero-carbon emissions. It’s in your interest that multinational companies move quickly towards clean transport and industry. It’s in your interest that the funds generated by polluters’ emissions finance the social and ecological transition in the transport, farming and industrial sectors in countries most affected by climate change such as Malta. Whatever is said during the election campaign, the reality remains that if we do not respect the limits that nature itself imposes on us, we will end up badly. The protection of nature, the environment, and the land and sea of our country means the protection and the well-being of all of us today and tomorrow.”


Il-bidla fil-klima torbtilna jdejna għal azzjoni lokali, nazzjonali u fuq livell Ewropew

Waqt konferenza stampa f’Birżebbuġa ċ-Chairperson ta’ ADPD – The Green Party saħqet li s-sondaġġi konsistentament juru li l-elettorat hu ppreokkupat prinċipalment bit-tibdil fil-klima, apparti mill-korruzzjoni li fniet lill-pajjiż. Sandra Gauci qalet kif il-partit huwa kommess li jimbotta u jaħdem għal politika effettiva li tikkuntrasta, tirriforma u timmitiga l-bidla fil-klima. “Irridu eknonomija tal-benesseri, mhux ekonomija li tħaxxen il-bwiet ta’ min qed jeqred, iħammeġ u jniġġes l-arja, l-ilma, l-art u l-ambjent. Irridu li min iħammeġ u jniġġes iħallas u jnaddaf mhux ikompli jmarradna. Huwa ovvju li l-pajjiż kollu hu effettwat bl-impatti tat-tibdil tal-klima li, b’esperjenza diretta nistgħu ngħidu li tfissser estremi ta’ temp (minn għargħar sa nixfa fit-tul) u temperatura medja li dejjem tiżdied. M’għandna l-ebda għażla ħlief li nieħdu azzjoni issa. Diġà qegħdin tard. Birżebbuġa hija waħda mil-lokalitajiet affettwati kemm mit-tniġġis, u anke mill-effetti tal-bidla fil-klima.”

Id-Deputat Chairperson ta’ ADPD – The Green Party Carmel Cacopardo spjega kif is-sena li għaddiet kienet l-iktar waħda bi sħana kemm ilhom jinżammu records. Il-Mediterran partikolarment huwa affettwat b’mod ħażin ħafna. Dan kollu għandu impatt fuq kull aspett ta’ ħajjitna. In-nixfa u t-temperaturi għolja qed iħarbtu l-biedja u konsegwenza ta’ hekk hu inevitabbli li l-prodott lokali jiskarsa u jogħla fil-prezz. Dan kollu riżultat tat-tibdil fil-klima.”

“Iż-żieda kontinwa fit-temperaturi, bil-mod qed tittrasforma l-klima Maltija fi klima tropikali. Din il-bidla iġġib sfidi kbar għall-amministrazzjoni tas-saħħa pubblika ukoll, għax temperatura li qed togħla se tesponi lill-pajjiż anke għal mard tropikali. Illum qegħdin Birżebbuġa u għaldaqstant f’din il-lokalità mal-kosta tajjeb li niffukaw ukoll fuq aspett ieħor importanti. Iż-żieda fit-temperatura medja globali qed idewweb is-silġ fil-poli u konsegwenza ta’ hekk inevitabilment jogħla l-livell tal-baħar. Dan hu ta’ theddida għall-komunitajiet kollha li jgħixu mal-kosta f’livell mhux wisq ‘il-fuq minn dak ta’ wiċċ il-baħar. Hu ukoll theddida għall-infrastruttura kollha li għandna mal-kosta, primarjament dik turistika li hi kkonċentrata mal-kosta.  Taffettwa bil-kbir ukoll l-infrastruttura marittima fil-portijiet tagħna, inkluż dik tal-Port Ħieles li hawn f’Birżebbuġa.”

“Dan hu l-kuntest li jrid jindirizza l-Pjan Aħdar tal-Unjoni Ewropeja (EU Green Deal). Hu pjan li jrid jindirizza l-impatti tat-tibdil fil-klima b’mod li jnaqqas l-impatti li din il-bidla tnissel fuq il-kwalità tal-ħajja ta’ kulħadd. Fil-bidu ta’ din is-sena daħlu fi-seħħ miżuri li jindirizzaw it-tniġġis fl-arja mill-vapuri l-kbar li jbaħħru fl-ibħra Ewropej. Miżura li għalkemm meħtieġa biex anke fil-qasam tal-vapuri nindirizzaw l-impatti klimatiċi għandha effetti fuq il-Port Ħieles. Meta din il-miżura daħlet fis-seħħ kien ċar li fuq livell ta’ Unjoni Ewropea l-Gvern Malti ma għamel xejn biex l-effetti ta’ din il-miżura jkunu mtaffija b’miżuri ta’ għajnuna iffukata mill-EU.  Il-Gvern li jgħid li jpoġġi lill-Malta l-ewwel u qabel kollox għal xhur sħaħ ma qal xejn u ħalla lil kulħadd fil-għama. Dan hu każ fejn ir-reġiment ta’ uffiċjali pubbliċi li l-Gvern għandu fi Brussell u l-4 membri parlamentari Ewropej tal-Partit Laburista ma swew għal xejn għax baqgħu b’ħalqhom magħluq, inkella għax ma indunawx b’dak li kien qiegħed għaddej.”

“Kieku sar ippjanar fit-tul kieku l-Port Ħieles kien ikun fit-triq li jikkonverti partijiet mill-operazzjoni tiegħu għal attivitajiet aktar ekoloġiċi, l-gvern ukoll kien jara kif il-ħaddiema jitħarrġu għal xogħolijiet ġodda. Li żgur ma jistax u m’għandux jagħmel il-gvern huwa li jtellef it-tranżizzjoni tal-industrija tal-merkanzija lejn industrija aktar nadifa. Huma n-nies ta’ Birżebbuġa li jbatu l-effetti tal-użu tal-heavy fuel oil minn vapuri enormi fil-port. Jew għall-vapuri dal-gvern jaqbel mal-heavy fuel oil li, bħalma għamilna aħna ukoll, tant  ikkritika fil-passat?” Jekk il-heavy fuel oil kien fabbrika tal-kanċer fil-power station li kellna fl-2013, hu daqstant ieħor fil-vapuri li jidħlu fil-port ta’ Marsaxlokk!

Dr Melissa Bagley, id-Deputat Chairperson u kandidata għall-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Birżebbuġa, qalet li Birżebbuġa rat żvilupp industrijali konsiderevoli li ħakem il-post tul is-snin. “L-aħħar proġett ippjanat huwa dak ta’ bini intensiv tas-sit tal-Qajjenza li kien faċilità tal-ħażna tal-gass tal-Enemalta, għal skopijiet spekulattivi. Dan is-sit ikopri madwar 24,000 metru kwadru ta’ art li llum hija fil-maġġor parti tagħha tal-gvern. Madankollu, minflok ma r-residenti tal-Qajjenza jingħataw żona pubblika meħtieġa b ’mod sod għall-ħtiġijiet komunitarji, din l-art issa tinsab fil-mira tal-iżviluppaturi li jridu li l-pjani lokali jiġu re-zoned biex ikun jista’ jsir żvilupp massiċċ li jikkonsisti f’sitt binjiet sa tmien sulari għoli. Dan ir-rezoning huwa għall-iskop li jkun hemm bini għal użu kummerċjali u residenzjali, u mhux għal skopijiet komunitarji. Allura minflok ma nagħtu lir-residenti l-ispazju miftuħ tant meħtieġ li għandhom bżonn għal skop rikreattiv, issa qed jiġu ffaċċjati bil-possibilità li jkollhom mijiet kbar ta’ flats. Il-gvern moħħu biex ipoġġi l-profitt quddiem in-nies.

Ilbieraħ l-NGOs tennew is-sejħa tagħhom għall-irtirar tal-applikazzjoni għall-kontroll tal-ippjanar, applikazzjoni li tipproponi żvilupp intensiv fil-Qajjenza (PC/00022/23). ADPD tingħaqad mal-NGOs u tenfasizza li s-sit huwa l-aktar adattat għal faċilitajiet komunitarji. Il-fatt li ħafna mis-sit diġà huwa proprjetà pubblika għandu jiffaċilità d-deċiżjoni li l-gvern s’issa evita. Il-gvern m’għandux jiffaċilità l-ispekulazzjoni ta’ art pubblika kif għamel diversi drabi sal-lum.”

Sandra Gauci għalqet billi sosniet li “jiswielek, għall-kwalità ta’ ħajja aħjar għal kulħadd li l-Unjoni Ewropea ssaħħaħ il-Patt Ekoloġiku u Soċjali. Jiswielek li Malta tkun fuq quddiem nett fil-mixja lejn kwalità ta’ ħajja aħjar għalik, għalina u għal uliedna. Jiswielek li niġġieldu bis-serjetà l-effetti fuq Malta tal-bidla fil-klima, għax l-għelieqi qed isiru deżert, l-art qed tinxef, il-maltempati qed jiħraxu, il-ħajja fil-baħar qed tispiċċa u s-sħana qed tiżdied. Jgħidulek x’jgħidulek, jiswielek li l-Unjoni Ewropea tnaqqas l-emmissjonijiet tal-karbonju u gassijiet oħra malajr. Aħna l-Ħodor naħdmu u ninsistu biex nibqgħu mexjin fit-triq lejn żero-karbonju. Jiswielek li kumpaniji multinazzjonali jimxu malajr lejn trasport u industrija nadifa. Jiswilek li l-fondi ġġenerati mill-emmissjonijiet ta’ min iħammeġ jiffinanzjaw it-tranżizzjoni soċjali u ekoloġika fis-setturi tat-trasport, tal-biedja u dawk industrijali f’pajjiżi l-aktar affettwati mill-bidla fil-klima bħal Malta. Jingħad x’jingħad waqt il-kampanja elettorali, r-realtà tibqa’ li jekk ma nirrispettawx il-limiti li timponi fuqna n-natura stess, nispiċċaw ħażin. Il-protezzjoni tan-natura, l-ambjent, u l-art u l-baħar ta’ pajjiżna tfisser ilprotezzjoni, u l-benesseri tagħna lkoll illum u għada.”