In October 2019 the Maltese Parliament voted in favour of a non-binding, legally sterile resolution declaring a ‘climate emergency’. A fictitious emergency, because what an emergency means in places other than in Malta is that decisive, concrete, and urgent action is taken to tackle that very emergency.
In the meantime PLPN politicians spout out the usual rhetoric, running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, and plant stories in the press of how ‘green’ they are. In the meantime they forget to say how the accelerator on savage development was pressed down hard in 2006, followed by a change to a ‘faster car’ in 2013 – again with the accelerator pressed down hard. When they speak about energy, they go on and on about the price of the fuel of the moment – oil, gas or whatnot, and fail to mention the huge investment needed to change our energy sector to a truly modern, sustainable and green one. They go on and on about interconnectors, when a local, sustainable energy industry is a must – for various reasons, including jobs. They go on and on about ‘nice roads’, while neglecting to mention that people are getting sick from pollution, and that the ‘car is king’ mentality is one of our major issues which needs tackling immediately.
In the European Parliament, we have Nationalists Metsola and Casa, following the EPP position voting to dilute climate action. Voting to allow polluters to pollute, and to sabotage 2030 climate targets. They are joined in pressing the brakes in climate action by EU governments including our own Maltese government led by Robert Abela. While the EPP dominated Commission, the EPP group and EU governments continue to show a lack of ambition despite the real and present climate crisis, at least a majority in the European Parliament continue to call for the EU to increase its 2030 energy efficiency target to 40% and make this binding. The naysayers, and friends of polluters in the EPP want to retain an ineffective, and shamefully low 27% target.
In October 2020 the EU Climate Law approved by the EP calls for a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Here again, the law is already rather weak. A 65% reduction is what science tells us we must achieve. Unfortunately the EPP sought to weaken the law further by keeping targets even lower. Leaked documents outed their attempt to shift responsibility of climate action from polluters in the EU to poorer countries through dodgy ‘carbon offsetting’. In the words of Greenpeace, the pro-polluter EPP sought to push “developing countries to plant trees just so that dirty corporations can continue polluting”. All the local photo-ops and wise cracks on facebook will not change a thing. Despite the posturing and posing, massive reductions in emissions are desperately needed according to the latest science. These reductions will also generate economic and employment benefits, while improving our quality of life.
Back to the ‘discussion’ on energy in Malta. The PN keeps defending BWSC and heavy fuel oil ‘because it was cheaper’, and PL mess up the transition to gas and to renewables thanks to a long term contract with the corrupt Azerbaijani regime and Labour’s star Konrad Mizzi taking 5000 dollars a day together with his mentor Keith Schembri. The Nationalists sing the praises of the interconnector, as if relying totally on a non-local source of energy is a good idea, while Labour fails to make energy efficiency, zero-carbon buildings the gold standard. The discussion is now ridiculously focussed on whether electricity bills should be paid every two months or over a year instead of on energy efficiency, zero carbon and the benefits of locally generated clean energy. Industrial, transport, tourism and economic policy should all have one aim: that of cutting carbon emissions quickly. The move to clean, renewable energy remains weak and slow. Greenwash rules.
ADPD Secretary General
Published in the Maltatoday – Sunday 30 May 2020