A Low Carbon Development Strategy for Malta is about to be finalised and a new Waste Management Plan is being drawn up, Environment and Climate Change Minister Aaron Farrugia told The Malta Business Observer.
Speaking about the European Green Deal, Dr Farrugia said that part of these strategies was the transitioning to a low or zero emission transportation system, which will be combined with a modal shift to mass transport systems.
He also stressed the importance of other measures, which will need to be devised to encourage more uptake of electric cars. The Minister insisted that this was part of Malta ’s commitment to circularity principles, green public procurement and biodiversity.
“I think the realisation that we need to boost our environmental credentials must also come with the realisation that this does not need to come at the cost of economic development,” Dr Farrugia asserted.
Indeed, he described the European Green Deal as being about moving towards a clean and circular economy; reducing emissions and pollution; restoring biodiversity; achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050; decarbonising the energy sector; having cleaner transport and energy-efficient buildings; as well as improving environmental standards at a global level.
Having a greener economy will require effort from all sectors at all levels of society, he pointed out, acknowledging that simultaneously mainstreaming green technologies across all economic sectors faces challenges.
Moreover, the Government, he went on, strategically decided to ease certain burdens within the construction industry to spur a more sustainable development.
In this regard, the Minister said he was looking forward to development guidelines which would prioritise green and resource efficient buildings to complement initiatives at a local level and which would be central in creating a more sustainable built environment.
Further elaborating on the Low Carbon Development Strategy, the Minister said this will outline initiatives to gradually decarbonise the economy.
In addition, the new Waste Management Plan will be aimed at enhancing the resource value of waste and maintain natural resources for the longest timespan possible within the economy, the Minister said.
He also made mention of Malta ’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which, he said, will detail the country ’s contribution towards enhancing and protecting ecosystems and biodiversity.
He pledged that the Government will not renege on its obligations at EU level but, more so, those towards the people of Malta and its future generations.
“We are aware of the challenges we face because of our small size, lack of natural resources and absence of economies of scale but that does not diminish our resolve or our resilience to act even in difficult circumstances,” he asserted.
He also urged the population to take responsibility for the success of any green recovery, throwing down the gauntlet. “This is indeed the greatest challenge. If the Maltese people fail to take up the green economy, it will be a measure of our failure as politicians, both Government and Opposition, to meaningfully and realistically show the net longer-term benefits derivable from such an approach,” he underlined.
“Admittedly this is easier said than done. A lot depends on our ability as a nation to also think in terms of future generations.
All of us – politicians, industry, economic and social actors, as well as the people at large – need to move from advocating to actually putting our money where our mouth is. Pointing fingers and crying foul is just not enough.
Charity begins at home – my home, and your home. Are you on?,” he asked pointedly. Behavioural changes are a must, he insisted and warned that, until such time as resource costs converge, greener buildings will also come at a higher cost.
Moreover, there will be some bitter pills to swallow if the drive towards more environmentally friendly choices is to be pursued, the Minister maintained. But, Dr Farrugia is hopeful a national consensus about rewarding green investment is possible.
This is an extract of an article that first appeared in the June edition of The Malta Business Observer