2009

Hopenhagen turns into Copendisaster

Commenting on the failure of rich country governments to secure a strong and fair UN agreement to tackle climate change in Copenhagen, Martin Galea De Giovanni Chairperson of Friends of the Earth Malta said:

Politicians cannot call this outcome a success when in fact nothing meaningful has been agreed. Negotiations must now become even more intense to reach a just and effective climate agreement.

The European Union and other rich countries have stood motionless when giant strides forward are required given the scale and urgency of the climate crisis facing the world. The world now needs a bold dramatic shift in political will from the European Union and other developed nations responsible for causing the climate crisis.

With the eyes of the world on Copenhagen, Europe had the chance to commit to stronger action against climate change and break the deadlock, but EU leaders backed out of offering higher emissions reductions targets and adequate funds for developing countries.

European and other developed countries must commit to at least 40% emissions reductions by 2020 without offsetting, and supply the money developing countries desperately need to deal with climate change. Failure to do so is shameful.

President Obama's take it or leave it ultimatum was shameful - his offer of pitiful emissions cuts and money offers fell a long way short of what is required.  Now he is trying to save face presenting a flimsy declaration as a successful conclusion to the talks.

The only success at Copenhagen has been for rich countries who used backroom deals to ditch their duty to cut emissions first, and for corporate lobbyists who want to continue business as usual.

Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, stated that Copenhagen has been an abject failure. Justice has not been done. By delaying action, rich countries have condemned millions of the world’s poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life as climate change accelerates. The blame for this disastrous outcome is squarely on the developed nations.

We are disgusted by the failure of rich countries to commit to the emissions reductions they know are needed, especially the US, which is the world's largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases.

The only real leadership at the conference has come from the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who have come together to demand strong action to prevent climate catastrophe. Their voices are loud and growing ­ and

Friends of the Earth both in Malta and around the world will continue to be part of the fight for climate justice.

FoE_PR20091212 - message to COP - ACT NOWaThousands of activists from around the world including Malta have joined Friends of the Earth International’s demand for climate justice and an end to offsetting carbon emissions.  A series of events were organised in Valletta today the 12th of December to coincide with the annual United Nations Climate Talks which are taking place this year in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The day will kick off at 10:00 with the launch of a short film called “Beat the Change” at St. James Cavalier, and a forum discussion on climate change – “Beat the Change - Invest in climate solutions”, chaired by Vince Fabri. Speakers included the Hon. Minister George Pullicino, Tania Borg representing PL, Ing. Charles Yousif from the Energy Institute, and Saviour Vassallo from MEPA.

This was followed by a symbolic and colourful action in Freedom Square Valletta where a big crowd of supporters, including Hon. Pullicino, Hon. Leo Brincat, Hon. Owen Bonnici and TV personalities Claire Agius and Vince Fabri, formed the letters ACT NOW made up of people to send a strong message to world leaders that a safe and fair deal must be agreed in order for dangerous levels of climate change to be avoided. This deal should also protect the world’s poorest who will suffer most from the effects of climate change.

FoE_PR20091212 - message to COP - ACT NOWbThe Copenhagen Climate Talks are the world's last chance to secure an emissions reductions agreement that will replace the Kyoto Protocol before it expires. There is a growing consensus among scientists that we have as little as ten years to stop and reverse the global growth in greenhouse gas emissions before 'runaway' climate change becomes uncontrollable. That means the international talks currently being held in Copenhagen could be our last chance to avert a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions - perhaps the most important international meeting ever held. We feel therefore that there is an overwhelming need to demonstrate a global will for urgent and effective action at this time

We need strong leadership on climate change. Too many politicians are happy to speak about the issue, but their promises have often turned out to be just hot air. One exception is the United Kingdom, where a climate law has just been adopted, which will force the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions every year. We need your help to ensure that other governments follow this example.

During the Copenhagen talks Friends of the Earth International campaigners will be lobbying negotiators and deliver a petition signed by more than 30,000 people urging world leaders to do the right thing in Copenhagen by effectively protecting our climate and people all over the world.
Make your voice heard – Join us in Valletta

Million of supporters of Friends of the Earth International worldwide want the United Nations (UN) climate talks talking place until the 18 December to become a milestone towards 'Climate Justice', but the chances of achieving a just and effective UN agreement in Copenhagen are extremely slim.

To demonstrate their desire for climate justice, thousands of people are expected to ‘flood’ the streets of Copenhagen in the morning of December 12 in a march organized by FoEI to demand climate justice and an end to carbon offsetting, which is a false solution to climate change. On the same day in Malta, Friends of the Earth will be launching a short film called "Beat the Change" at St. James Cavalier at 10.00 am., followed by a forum discussion on climate change - "Beat the Change - Invest in climate solutions". Local food will be served during this occasion. This will be followed by a symbolic action whereby everyone who wants to be part of the change, is invited to meet in Freedom Square Valletta at 11.30 to form part of a big ACT NOW made up of people.

“Rich countries are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today and must immediately commit to steep and legally binding reductions of their emissions. These reductions must take place without offsetting and without other false solutions such as agrofuels, nuclear energy or so-called 'clean coal',” said Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey from Nigeria.

Negotiators at the Copenhagen talks are expected to agree to binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the second phase of the UN Kyoto Protocol, which starts in 2013. This Protocol is the only treaty that enforces emissions reductions on industrialized, developed countries.

Greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change and impoverished people and communities –who have contributed least to these emissions-, are the most affected by climate change, according to the UN.

“The divide-and-rule tactics of rich countries have cast a dark shadow over the run-up to Copenhagen, which has led to legitimate and strong opposition by developing countries. If Copenhagen is to be any different developed countries must change their mindsets or potentially face more delays, walk-outs or a collapse of the talks.”

“Climate justice will be achieved when the countries that have the most historical responsibility for causing climate change do the most to prevent further damage, and substantially reduce their own emissions at home,” added Meena Raman from Friends of the Earth Malaysia


“Carbon offsetting – when developed countries buy carbon credits from developing countries to avoid cutting emissions themselves – has no part to play in a just international agreement to fight climate change. Developed countries must tackle climate change by making immediate and real change at home,” said Ricardo Navarro from Friends of the Earth El Salvador.

During the Copenhagen talks Friends of the Earth International campaigners are lobbying negotiators and will deliver a petition signed by more than 30,000 people urging world leaders to do the right thing in Copenhagen by effectively protecting our climate and people all over the world.

Campaigners will also strengthen the climate justice movement through mobilizations, debates and activities at the alternative civil society summit known as ‘Klimaforum’ with allied organisations such as La Via Campesina and the World March of Women. Thousands of voices demanding climate justice will also be presented in a ‘climate capsule’ exhibition at the Klimaforum and Bella Center.

Friends of the Earth International believes that:

- Rich, developed countries should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% in comparison with 1990 levels by 2020. These cuts should be made at home - with no offsetting. Offsetting, including through the 'Clean Development Mechanism', is a false solution and should be rejected.

- Rich, developed countries owe to developing countries a climate debt that is the result of decades of pollution. This debt must be recognised and repaid, for example through massive emission reductions and through the provision of sufficient public funds democratically through the UN to fight climate change.

- The World Bank and its climate funds must be rejected as they are set to increase developing country debt and promote dirty energy such as “clean” coal.

- Major corporations and polluters are lobbying to undermine a just climate agreement and are advancing their own economic interests at the expense of people and the planet.

- Including forests in ‘carbon offsetting initiatives’ does not help to combat climate change. Instead, it diverts attention from the real solutions to climate change and deforestation. Plantations are not forests. Monoculture tree plantations must be excluded from the UN climate negotiations.
Europe must commit to at least 40% emissions reductions by 2020 without offsetting

Europe must commit to at least 40% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 without offsetting, Friends of the Earth International urged today as European Heads of State meet in parallel to the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

The meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 December will discuss climate change and emissions targets for the EU with serious implications for the ongoing international talks.

The European Union has to date committed to a 20% emission cut by 2020, and pledged to increase this to 30% conditional on the commitments made by other countries. Both targets are inadequate, include huge amounts of ineffective tricks such as offsetting, and would not enable a just solution to the climate crisis.

European governments still have not solved discussions on how to count emissions from forests and how to treat the so called 'hot air' surplus emission credits which could massively impact on the EU targets.

Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: "African countries are among the most affected by climate change but have contributed the least to it. We Africans demand at least 40% emissions cuts without offsetting in Europe and in all other developed countries which have got rich emitting the gases at the root of the problem."

Sonja Meister, climate campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "Europe must up its commitment and agree to at least 40% emissions reductions by 2020 at home. At the same time European governments must close all the loopholes which would make the targets meaningless. Achieving at least 40% cuts within Europe by 2020 is technically and economically feasible - there are no excuses for governments not to act now."

"Young Friends of the Earth is saying 'up yours' to the EU about its targets. To prevent dangerous climate change Europe must take ambitious action on both emission cuts and climate finance for the most vulnerable people in the world and for future generations. Real solutions to the climate crisis exist - false solutions like carbon offsetting must be rejected," says Young Friends of the Earth campaigner Job van den Assem.

A study produced by Stockholm Environment Institute in partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe shows that at least 40% emission cuts within Europe by 2020 are feasible and affordable.

This is the minimum scale and speed of reductions science says is necessary from rich countries to avert the worst impacts of climate change, and is the kind of deep cuts needed if industrialised countries are to repay their climate debt and make a just and effective global climate agreement possible.

Friends of the Earth International also demands that the EU makes a strong financial commitment to pay its fair share of the finances needed by developing countries for mitigation, technology and adaptation. This needs to be new, public money additional to existing development aid. Short-term commitments alone will not satisfy developing country negotiators in Copenhagen. Long-term predictable financing is needed to enable those countries least responsible for climate change but hit hardest by its consequences to adapt and to develop cleanly.

The money must be administered by the UNFCCC in a central fund, the world's largest grassroots environmental network said. Any funding outside of the UN, including the World Bank's climate investment funds, and any financial transfers made as part of offsetting schemes should not count as fulfilment of developed country commitments.

So far EU leaders have failed to put a firm financial offer on the table though developing countries are already suffering the effects of climate change.
12.12.09 –  Beat the Change

Friends of the Earth Malta will be joining millions of people around the world in a bid to raise awareness on climate change. A series of events will be organised in Valletta on the 12th of December to coincide with the annual United Nations Climate Talks which are taking place this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. FoE_PR20091103_Climate_Action

The day will kick off at 10:00 with the launch of a short film called "Beat the Change" at St. James Cavalier, and a forum discussion on climate change - "Beat the Change - Invest in climate solutions". Local food will be served during this occasion. This event is free of charge, but seating is on first come first served basis.

This will be followed by a symbolic action whereby everyone who wants to be part of the change, is invited to meet us in Freedom Square Valletta at 11.30 to form part of a big ACT NOW made up of people. This image will be sent to politicians in Copenhagen together with similar pictures that Friends of the Earth Malta has already been collecting from schools and offices.

The Copenhagen Climate Talks are the world's last chance to secure an emissions reductions agreement that will replace the Kyoto Protocol before it expires. There is a growing consensus among scientists that we have as little as ten years to stop and reverse the global growth in greenhouse gas emissions before 'runaway' climate change becomes uncontrollable. That means the international talks being held in Copenhagen in December 2009 could be our last chance to avert a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions - perhaps the most important international meeting ever held. We feel therefore that there is an overwhelming need to demonstrate a global will for urgent and effective action at this time

We need strong leadership on climate change. Too many politicians are happy to speak about the issue, but their promises have often turned out to be just hot air. One exception is the United Kingdom, where a climate law has just been adopted, which will force the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions every year. We need your help to ensure that other governments follow this example.

During the Copenhagen talks Friends of the Earth International campaigners will be lobbying negotiators and deliver a petition signed by more than 30,000 people urging world leaders to do the right thing in Copenhagen by effectively protecting our climate and people all over the world.

Date: 12.12.2009
Time: 10.00 - 13.00
Venue: St. James Cavalier and Freedom Square
Beat the Change

10.00 - Launch of Beat the Change short film and discussion:
Beat the Change - Invest in climate solutions
11.00 - Stand up reception
11.30 - Meeting at Freedom Square to spell out ACT NOW!
(In case of bad weather this event will also be held at St. James Cavalier)

Friends of the Earth Malta welcomes the decision to reform the public transport system in Malta as a long awaited and much needed move for the country. Aiming for a more efficient system means more people may be willing to leave their cars at home and use this service. The benefits are widespread ,less traffic coongestion, less noise and less pollution.

Friends of the Earth Malta states that public transport should continue to be regulated by government. In the hands of a private business, routes which do not provide a large profit margin may be left out.

For these reforms to be truly successful, they will need to convince the public that public transport is a reliable and effective alternative to using a car, catering for all their needs at most times of the day, including at night. If the system does indeed become more efficient, but the car-using public still fails to use it, then the reforms cannot be considered a success.

In this respect, efficiency needs to be combined with financial benefits. An expensive public transport system, which does not allow the public to save much on the petrol they would otherwise use, will probably not have the desired effects. It is also important to make available reduced ticket prices for particular social groups. Eliminating state subsidies might well defeat the purpose of the whole reform, leaving us with public transport which many people still choose not to use.

Increased public transport efficiency will only be achieved if its aim is to provide a service which all can use when they need to, independently of which area they need to travel to and from including Gozo. Viability of a service with a view to maximising revenue would lead to a situation where people living or working along less frequented routes would have access to less regular buses which may stop operating earlier than others. Indeed transport which does not remain active until late hours is unlikely to be of much use to both locals and tourists who wish to make use of the service as a sole means of transport and do away with having a car altogether.

Government funds directed towards the new transport system should be a priority given the positive impact its success could have on the country as a whole. Funds currently allocated for projects which are damaging to the environment or which are not being used effectively should be relocated to this sector, keeping in mind that transport is an issue affecting the Maltese public’s daily lives.

If Malta accomplishes the goal of reducing cars from our congested roads, we will be one step closer towards achieving the carbon emissions reduction which our government has committed itself to. The public transport reform must include the purchase of EURO 4 and EURO 5 buses. Buses which operate below EURO 4 standards will not aid Malta to reach its emissions targets.

This reform is a golden opportunity to successfully address the flaws in our current public transport system. Friends of the Earth Malta urges the government to seize this chance for a long term success.



Riforma tat-Trasport Pubbliku ghal futur sostenibli

Friends of the Earth Malta tilqa’ d-deciżjoni li ssir riforma fit-trasport pubbliku Malti ghaliex ahna nemmnu li permezz ta’ hekk, Malta tista’ tmur 'l quddiem. Sistema aktar efficjenti theggeg lil pubbliku ingenerali juża aktar dan is-servizz minflok il-karozza privata taghhom. Il-beneficcji huma hafna fosthom inqas kongestjoni tat-traffiku, inqas hsejjes, kif ukoll inqas tniggis.

Jekk it-trasport pubbliku jinghata f’idejn korporazzjonijiet u kumpaniji privati, jekk dawn jaraw li hemm certi rotot li mhux profitabbli, dawn jithallew barra. Ghalhekk Friends of the Earth Malta tiddikjara li t-trasport pubbliku ghandu jibqa’ regolat mill-gvern.

Biex din ir-riforma tkun verament success, hemm bżonn li l-pubbliku jigi konvint li t-trasport pubbliku huwa verament ta’ min joqghod fuqu u ghalhekk jigi kkonsidrat bhala alternattiva biex jitnaqqas l-użu tal-karozzi privati. Dan jista’ jsir billi l-pubbliku jigi assigurat li t-trasport pubbliku ser jaghqdihom fil-bżonnijiet li jista’ jkollhom matul il-gurnata kollha inkluż matul il-lejl. Jekk is-sistema ssir efficjenti, imma l-pubbliku xorta jaghzel li juża l-karozza privata, mela r-riforma ma tistax titqies bhala success.

F’dan ir-rigward, l-efficjenza trid tigi kombinata mal-beneficcji finanzjarji. Jekk it-trasport pubbliku jkun meqjus gholi meta kkomparat ma’ kemm jintefaq fil-‘fuel’, dawn ovjament mhux se jaghzlu li jużaw il-karozza tal-linja. Huwa important li wiehed jahseb li jaghmel rati specjali ghal gruppi ta’ nies partikolari bhal anzjani u studenti.

Li s-sussidji tal-gvern jigu eliminati kompletament jista' jwassal li l-ghan ewlieni ta’ din ir-riforma ma jitwettaqx u allura n-nies jevitaw li jużaw dan is-servizz.

Żieda fl-efficjenza tat-trasport pubbliku tista’ tigi milhuqa biss jekk l-ghan ta’ dan is-servizz ikun li jista’ jigi użat mill-pubbliku kull darba li dawn ikollhom bżonn jivjaggaw lejn jew minn kwalunkwe post f’Malta u Ghawdex. Jekk wiehed joqghod iqis il-profitt li ser jigu generati mir-rotot, dawk il-postijiet li huma anqas popolari, ir-residenti jew dawk li jkunu ser iżuru dawn il-postijiet jew dik l-akwata, jispiccaw ibatu minn nuqqas ta‘ access. Jekk is-servizz tat-trasport pubbliku mhux ser jigi offrut anke bil-lejl, il-pubbliku generali, kif ukoll it-turisti mhumiex se jiddependu minn dan is-servizz.

Fondi statali diretti lejn is-sistema l-gdida tat-trasport ghandhom jinghataw prijorita meta jitqiesu l-impatti pożittivi li Malta kollha tista’ tgawdi minnhom. Fondi li huma allokati ghall-progetti li qed jaghmlu hsara lill-ambjent jew li mhux qed jigi użati kif suppost, ghandhom jigu allokati ghal dan is-settur, settur li qed jaffetwa l-hajja tal-Maltin.

Jekk Malta tilhaq l-ghan li tnaqqas l-ammont ta’ karozzi u l-kongestjoni mit-toroq Maltin, Malta tkun pass ‘il quddiem biex tilhaq it-tnaqqis fl-ammont ta’emissjonijiet karbonici, li l-gvern ikkommetta ruhu li jaghmel. Ir-riforma tat-trasport pubbliku trid tinkludi l-Euro 4 u l-Euro 5 bhala nollijiet tal-karozzi tal-linja. Karozzi tal-linja li joperaw b’inqas mill-istandard ta’ Euro 4, ma jghinx lil Malta tilhaq l-ghan taghha biex tnaqqas l-emissjonijiet.

Din ir-riforma hija opportunita’ tad-deheb biex il-gvern jindirizza n-nuqqasijiet preżenti fis-sistema tat-trasport pubbliku. Ghalhekk Friends of the Earth Malta theggeg lill-gvern biex jahtaf dan ic-cans u jippjana sewwa din ir-riforma sabiex Malta jkollha success darba ghal dejjem f’dan il-qasam.

Energy and renewables

Friends of the Earth Malta welcomes the funds allocated in the Budget 2010 for environmental projects and alternative energy. However Friends of the Earth Malta (FoE Malta) states that in some aspects the budget was lacking in long term social and environmental vision.

The utility charges penalise basic consumption. Government should protect basic consumption and penalize waste using the polluter-pays-principal as a guiding concept and a scientific study on energy consumption as the determining mark by which the subsidy is regulated.

FoE Malta is aware that we have failed once more to adopt a sensible version of different day and night rates, in order to encourage heavy users to move electricity use away from times of peak demand. The difference in the rates is too small to be of interest. By including the polluter-pays principle and a sensible version of different day and night rates, the government will empower citizens to be part of the decision-making process by encouraging household members and businesses to be more aware of their energy consumption.

In Budget 2010, much hope is placed in Smart Meters. The introduction of smart meters has the full support of FoE Malta. If implemented in the correct way this could have a positive influence on how we use our energy resources. An excellent technological fix such as this one will nonetheless be useless unless the general public is familiarised with the system and the benefits it can offer. This could thus be an opportunity for cooperation between NGOs and government.

More subsidies have been provided for photovoltaic panels for domestic and larger installations. In addition, the eco-fund mentioned in the Budget 2009 has vanished from Budget 2010. This fund could have served to provide an improved feed-in rate to incentivise the uptake of domestic and larger photovoltaic systems. It is also not clear what happened to this proposal during 2009 and how much revenue was collected from it.

The restrictions on the purchase of solar water heaters discriminates in favour of Gozitans with the excuse of 'Eco-Gozo'. Whilst acknowledging that last year's uptake was far from ideal, FoE Malta fails to see how the new scheme is an improvement over the 2009 scheme. The suitability of models on offer and the standard of installation and yield as well as the capacity of Gozitan wages to purchase solar water heaters are measurables which should be studied in detail before making this decision.

On the subject of feed-in tariffs, a lot more could have been done in a bid to integrate social and environmental concerns in a more constructive way. As experience in other countries has shown, an attractive feed-in rate exerts a powerful incentive where the consumer can see quite clearly that it is putting money in their pocket. On the other hand, capital subsidies tend to be mopped up by the distributors.

Wind energy was not given enough importance in Budget 2010, with only vague remarks on Gozo as a possible site for wind farms. The measuring mast installed in only one location is not sufficient for studying the feasibility of wind supply. The analysis from this mast must be done over a two-year period. If Sikka l-Bajda is found to be an ineffective location, studies will have to start from scratch, two years from now, thus procrastinating the use of wind energy for Malta.

In the past government has mentioned investing in gas for our energy supply. Gas remains a cleaner and more efficient energy supply.

Friends of the Earth Malta states that it is encouraged by the inclusion of environmental friendly incentives in Budget 2010, however Malta sorely lacks a national energy plan. Friends of the Earth Malta looks forward to contributing to and seeing positive change in action.

On Friday 6th November, Friends of the Earth Malta held a climate forum to close the international photographic exhibition on climate change, The climate is changing… are you?

The exhibition was very successful, attracting lots of attention, questions and feedback from visitors. The selected 18 photographs were exhibited between September and October in Sliema, Birgu, Santa Venera Birkirkara and at University.


The climate forum was held as a platform to discuss the threat climate change poses locally and what strategies are required to provide long-term solutions. Guest speaker Eur. Ing. Charles Yousif explained that energy efficiency measures and renewable energy applications must go hand in hand, in order to combat Climate Change. Yousif stated, “Giving more importance to only one of them would not achieve carbon dioxide reductions and risk paying higher premiums in the future to repair damages caused by climate change.”

 

Guest speaker, Mr. David Spiteri Gingell, former Chairman of The Climate Change Committee on Greenhouse Gases, stated, “I enjoyed working with FoE and am impressed with their commitment and professionalism. I augur them well as Malta needs NGOs such as theirs.”

 

In his presentation, James Camilleri, engineering graduate and volunteer with Friends of the Earth Malta, stated, “Everyone of us has a responsibility towards targeting the problem of climate change and a collective effort is needed to reach our targets of emissions reductions.”

 

Yousif also stated that, “The financial investment in renewable energy applications should not be considered as a disadvantage but rather an investment in future generations and a new source of job creation.”

 

The vandalism to the exhibition display, which took place in Birkirkara on the weekend after the climate forum, destroyed a large number of the prints. Friends of the Earth Malta is not disheartened by this incident and will carry on with its campaign on climate change as planned.

 

Friends of the Earth Malta will be in Valletta on 12th December, Global Climate Action Day.


The exhibition was funded with support from the European Commission - Youth in Action programmes under the heading 1.2 Youth Initiatives. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the EU Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Friends of the Earth Malta together with the Environmental NGOs Nature Trust (Malta), Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Light Pollution Awareness Group, Din L-Art Helwa and BirdLife Malta  welcome the news that Parliamentary Secretary Dr Jason Azzopardi has successfully reclaimed the area between Fomm ir Rih and Gnejna.  This sizeable tract of relatively unspoiled land and coast is not only considered to be of high ecological importance but also has high landscape value. Thanks to this recommendable move by Dr Azzopardi this part of Malta is now public property and can be enjoyed by both Maltese and tourists alike.

The NGOs feel that this is a positive step as this can pave the way for other sites  of ecological, historical, scientific, landscape and geomorphologic value to be protected and enjoyed by all.

The Environmental NGOs express their appreciation of Dr Azzopardi’s endeavours and hope that other Government officials will act in the same spirit to safeguard our natural and historical heritage.
In what can be considered a truly global event about a global issue, Friends of the Earth Malta and St. James Cavalier hosted the age of stupid, a new epic from McLibel director Franny Armstrong. In a cinema filled to capacity, viewers at St James joined another million viewers in 63 countries to watch the global premier of what has been cited as one of the most important films of our time.

Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?

The event also made room for live music from Radiohead's Thom Yorke and satellite linkups to melting glaciers and withering rainforests. Following the movie screening, a panel discussion including former un general secretary Kofi Annan, actor Gillian Anderson and the former Irish president Mary Robinson contributed their reaction.

Much hangs in the balance in the next few months, both with us climate policy and worldwide commitment in Copenhagen. Throughout the discussion there was a strong and consistent call for serious lifestyle change and economic retooling in the west as a matter of self preservation and social justice. The war on climate change was likened to other wars which humanity has faced ranging from the battle against racism to sexism, and several speakers emphasised the power of ordinary citizens to change the world through their behaviour and through pressure on leaders. In the words of Kofi Annan "leaders will follow".

This was then followed by a Q&A session chaired by Marie Briguglio. The panel included Hon. Minister George Pullicino, Hon. Leo Brincat labour spokesperson for environment, and Mr. Ralph Cassar on behalf of Alternativa Demokratika.

The Environmental NGOs Friends of the Earth Malta, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Ramblers Association and Nature Trust (Malta), Birdlife Malta and Din L-Art Helwa have  expressed their disappointment and concern as to how the Enforcement Unit within the MEPA Environment Directorate is being dismantled and officers in this unit were being distributed into other units within the same authority

The NGOs voice their concern that environmental law enforcement within Mepa has already been very poor.  With such a strategy it will now become worse and a free-for-all situation.  This move simply shows the low level of commitment accorded to environmental protection by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, reducing the environment to a non-existant element within the Authority.  The NGOs question the rationale behind such a decision taken. Moreover, why are such moves happening even before the MEPA reform is announced?

Developments over the years show that the merger between the Environment Department and the Planning Authority was not aimed at putting it at a level on a par with Development Planning, but effectively resulted in the silencing of the environment unit.  This is further borne out by the fact that today the Environment Directorate has only half the staff of the Planning Directorate.

Malta has enough laws and regulations to be best case example however law enforcement has never been the rule of the day.  NGOs have today had to step in and carry out the duties of the Environment Directorate – that of policing and protecting the environment. Today it is the NGOs that report illegalities and push Mepa to take action.  Such reports include illegal buildings, destruction of habitats, trees and species, lack of protection for Areas of ecological importance and Natura 2000 sites and many more

The NGOs are now concerned on how the EU environmental Directives will be monitored and enforced and what will MEPA do with the commitment for the Natura 2000 sites.  Will these now be protected only on paper and management plans?


 

Friends of the Earth Malta would like to commend government for following up on the long promised Eco-Gozo plan. This should hopefully serve as a test case which would eventually lead to a similar plan being implemented on a national level.

However such a plan would not be comprehensive unless it undergoes a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). As no mention to SEA is made in the press statement issued by the Ministry for Gozo, FoE Malta questions whether such a study has been made or is forthcoming.

If this were not the case, then it does not add up that Cabinet approves a plan that should have been subject to an SEA by the proponent in accordance to and compliance with L.N. 418/2005 in implementing the requirements of Directive 2001/42/EC.
Cabinet will thus be unaware of whether all the possible likely significant effects of implementing the plan have been examined. A SEA looks at a larger range of activities than an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and takes socio-economic effects into consideration besides the environmental ones.

A SEA can provide a broad indication of potential impacts that may arise whilst also giving weight to the consideration of alternatives and cumulative effects. Sustainable Development considerations are hence brought into the mechanism at an early stage through the execution of a Strategic Environmental Assessment.



Friends of the Earth Malta and St. James Cavalier will be hosting The Age of Stupid, a new epic from McLibel director Franny Armstrong. Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

Cited as one of the most important films of our time, Franny Armstrong’s acclaimed documentary film has been selected to screen to a global audience beamed by satellite across the world at 7pm (local time) on Tuesday 22nd September. This special Digital Event will include a screening of the film plus highlights from the New York event the night before. The event has also just been confirmed as being an official part of UN Climate Week. The Premiere will be hosted by Kofi Annan, Gillian Anderson, the Oscar nominated film’s star Pete Postlethwaite and filmmakers Franny Armstrong and Lizzie Gillett in the presence of a host of A-list celebrities, leading climate activists and Heads of State arriving on the green carpet by boat, bike, rickshaw, chip fat car or skateboard to a solar-powered cinema tent in New York.

There will also be music from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, plus satellite links to scientists at the Petermann Glacier in the Arctic and at the melting glaciers in the Himalayas which provide drinking water for hundreds of millions of people in India and Bangladesh. A group of children will speak from the very room in Copenhagen in which all our futures will be decided at the UN climate summit in December.

Pete plays the founder of The Global Archive, a storage facility located in the Arctic, preserving all of humanity's achievements in the hope that the planet might one day be habitable again. Or that intelligent life may arrive and make use of all that we’ve achieved. He pulls together clips of “archive” news and documentary from 1950-2008 to build a message showing what went wrong and why.

He focuses on six real life human stories: A paleontogolist helping Shell find more oil off the coast of New Orleans; Jeh Wadia in Mumbai aims to start-up a new low-cost airline and gets a million Indians flying; Layefa Malemi lives in absolute poverty in a small village in Nigeria from which Shell extracts tens of millions of dollars worth of oil every week. She dreams of becoming a doctor, but must fish in the oil-infested waters for four years to raise the funds; Jamila Bayyoud, an Iraqi refugee living on the streets of Jordan; Piers Guy is a windfarm developer from Cornwall fighting the NIMBYs of Middle England and an 82-year-old French mountain guide, Fernand Pareau, who has witnessed his beloved Alpine glaciers melt by 150 metres.

This One Night Only live event is your only chance to see The Age of Stupid. The local event starts at 6.45pm and is being supported by Greendrinks Malta. Tickets at €10 / €8 are available from the St James Cavalier booking office: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.g and tel. 21223200

Friends of the Earth Malta is launching an international photographic exhibition on climate change on Tuesday 15th September at Sliema's Independence garden at 7.30pm, titled 'The climate is changing... are you?'


It's not so difficult to realize that climate change is happening in Malta as well as in the rest of the world but how deeply are these changes influencing our life and our perception of the world around us?

Friends of the Earth Malta challenged youth and adults with an international photo competition on the themes of the visible effects of climate change to better understand how people feel, reflect and react towards this problem.

The winning photographs, selected amongst participants from more than 20 countries, including Malta, show in very personal and original ways, the effects of climate change happening around the world.

Everyone is invited to visit the exhibition and be confronted with this reality. The exhibition will travel in three different locations in Malta, with the following calendar:

  • Sliema Independence Garden: 15th September to 30th September
  • University of Malta (Humanities Department area): 1st October to 15th October
  • Birgu Waterfront: 15th October to 30th October


Friends of the Earth Malta is committed to promoting a healthier planet for present and future generations. Friends of the Earth Malta is lobbying for concrete action to be taken now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote accessible renewable energy on a nation-wide scale.

 

Click here to see the winning photos ( coming soon!)

 

Thanks go to David Pisani for professional support, to Atelier culture.projects for their technical assistance and to the sponsors Smart Lights and Tip Top Living's Plan toys.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission - Youth in Action Programme under the heading 1.2 Youth Initiatives. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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