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The environmental NGOs BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation, Nature Trust Malta and the Ramblers Association today slammed the Siggiewi Mayor Perit Musumeci for his request for the police to investigate FAA Coordinator Astrid Vella.

 

The NGOs stated that the authorities should investigate the notorious planning applications from the Mayor's district that went against the MEPA policies and were approved by MEPA boards, and not environmental campaigners who brought these cases to the public's attention.

 

The NGOs drew attention to the fact that in 2005 alone Mr. Musumeci, who is an architect and the Siġġiewi mayor, had 23 planning applications, most of which were outside development zones in Siġġiewi, that were recommended for refusal by MEPA planning officers but were approved by different boards within the authority. There were also several other similar cases since 2005. This means that MEPA boards approved planning applications that were against the Authority’s own policies, the NGOs charged.

 

The NGOs asked if the authorities have initiated investigations about Mr. Musumeci’s private business activities during the period he has been the Mayor of Siġġiewi.

 

“Mr. Mussumeci should set an example as a mayor and is obliged to adhere to a strict code of ethics as established by the Local Councils Act. Instead he seems to be using technicalities to replace ethical considerations on environment, and deploying bullying tactics to silence environmental campaigners” NGOs concluded.

Scotland's climate bill sets precedent for Europe

Friends of the Earth Malta has warmly welcomed the groundbreaking Climate Change Bill passed in Scotland this week.
Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) voted for a target to reduce greenhouse gases by 42 per cent by 2020 – the most ambitious statutory target in the world.

The vote followed an overwhelming display of support for early action to cut emissions from scientists, Scottish celebrities and campaigners who travelled to the Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, to lobby their MSPs.

Friends of the Earth Malta said: “With this law Scotland is leading the world in the fight to tackle dangerous climate change. The emission cuts now required by law in Scotland are the first in the world to be in line with what science tells us is needed.

“The EU should now follow Scotland’s lead and set equally ambitious targets to help get the international climate negotiations on the right path.”
The Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, Duncan McLaren, said: “Climate justice and climate science tell us we urgently need to make emission cuts of at least 42 per cent by 2020. The technology exists to deliver them. The Scottish Government must now exercise the political will to make it so.”

 

Scotland's Climate Change Bill comes in the same week that the Hungarian parliament took a major step towards the realisation of a climate law.
On Monday evening Hungarian MPs adopted a resolution on the preparations of a climate law initiated by the Friends of the Earth Hungary and the Hungarian National Council for Sustainable Development.

In Malta and in 16 other European countries, Friends of the Earth groups are asking governments to commit to annual cuts in climate changing emissions as part of the European Big Ask. Friends of the Earth's Europe-wide climate campaign aims to get governments and the European Union to commit to legally binding annual cuts in emissions to fight climate change. The Big Ask calls on the European Union to commit to at least 40 per cent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within Europe by 2020 and 100 per cent by 2050. www.foemalta.org  /  www.thebigask.eu

The environment NGOs BirdLife Malta, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, GAIA Foundation, MOAM, Nature Trust (Malta)  and Ramblers Association highlight the fact that the Authorities’ pledge to protect the countryside has once again been put into question by MEPA’s recommending the approval of a development project partially outside the development zone (ODZ) at Tal-Marga Valley, Qala, Gozo.

As in the recent Wied il-Ghasel case, the proposal to build apartments and underlying garages is unsuitable for a site that is mostly out of the building scheme. Even more seriously, the excavations will take place in the area where underground water from the aquifer flows out into the Tal-Marga Valley.  Worryingly, the Case Officer Report makes no mention of a report submitted to MEPA by the Qala Local Council and drawn up by Ing. Marco Cremona, a qualified hydrologist, which states that "it is very likely that the excavations will affect the subsurface flow currently feeding the shallow wells dug in the blue clay lying immediately downstream of the site of the proposed development. This is cause for concern especially since the proposed development involves the excavation of rock (and probably clay – which is protected by law) to construct underlying garages.

Furthermore, the Gozo and Comino Local Plan designates the Tal-Marga valley as a ‘Category B’ valley where the only permitted structures are “wind-pumps, small stores, reservoirs and other limited facilities which are deemed necessary for the continuation of traditional agricultural practices and even these require mitigation measures so that the intervention blends well in the rural landscape. A strong presumption against the construction of new structures (including greenhouses) shall be also applicable to Category B valleys.” One wonders therefore how a block of flats can legally be approved by the MEPA Case Officer. The granting of this permit will have further implications for other permits for villas being requested nearby, similarly out of the development zone and in the watercourse.

The NGOs and Qala Local Council reiterate Ing. Cremona's December 2008 declaration to MEPA that the proposed development will intercept the subsurface water flow of the Il-Wileg, Tal-Harep and Ta’ Marga valley systems and negatively affect the yield of the shallow wells lying immediately downstream of the proposed development which the surrounding agricultural area depends on for its irrigation needs.

The NGOs remind the Authorities that the Nadur cemetery case has, as predicted, affected the quality of the natural spring water to the detriment of the farmers and agriculture in that area. One cannot understand how the opinion of an acknowledged expert in the field, who has carried out on-site studies, can be swept aside in recommending approval of this project which not only carries potential risks to the sustainability of the valley and acquifer, but also puts into jeopardy the livelihood of the 29 farmers who have already petitioned MEPA on this matter.

The approval of a large apartment complex and garages at Wied il-Ghasel, a villa at Bahrija right on the valley floor not two meters away from the running stream and many other structures passed off as stables, shows that contrary to all the promises that the August 2006 ODZ extensions (Rationalisation Scheme) would seal the development zones, such abusive developments have continued to be approved.
Environmental NGOs BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth, the Gaia Foundation, Nature Trust Malta and the Ramblers Association of Malta have today called on MEPA to uphold its commitment to the environment and stop the outdoor event organised at the Buskett Roadhouse this coming Saturday.

The party, which will host foreign DJs in Buskett, will be equipped with extremely powerful lights and sound effects including; laser, LED, Eye Blinders effects and fireworks, according to information provided by the organisers.

Buskett Gardens is protected under both national and international law, and is listed as a Bird Sanctuary, a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Area of Conservation.  Buskett is particularly important during migration when large numbers of birds of prey and other species such as herons roost inside the SPA.  Furthermore, during the summer, Buskett is important for several rare Maltese breeding bird species, including Turtle Dove, Chaffinch, Serin and Spotted Flycatcher. Moreover, the NGOs stress that Buskett is today a Natura 2000 site and so it deserves all the protection it can get from the national authorities, mainly MEPA.

All of these species are highly susceptible to human disturbance, such as the bright lights, loud noise and large gatherings that the proposed party would entail. As is specified under the Birds Directive, it is not permitted to carry out an activity inside an SPA, such as Buskett, that may negatively damage the bird species for which the site was designated. 

Due to the importance of Buskett to both breeding and migratory birds, its biodiversity and high ecological value, the NGOs call on the authorities not to allow these kinds of parties and concerts within the boundaries of the Buskett Gardens.  Rather, the Buskett Roadhouse should be utilising the unique advantage of being placed within the boundaries of this protected area and promote its business in a manner which is more in keeping with the site.

The effect of such parties is not limited to Buskett or to birds; as of this week and right through summer the noise and light pollution as well as traffic generated by such events will be affecting biodiversity in different sensitive protected areas. The NGOs furthermore draw the Authorities’ attention to the impact on residents of certain areas who are deprived of sleep throughout summer due to frequent all-night parties in their localities.

The NGOs remind all the authorities involved in the issuing of party permits that the cost to the natural and human environment should be the first consideration in the issuing of such permits, and in the light of this, urges them to review this Saturday’s event in Buskett bird sanctuary.

In view of recent statements that have appeared in the local media on the future installation of power turbines at the Delimara Power Station, Friends of the Earth Malta together with the environment NGOs  Flimkien għal Ambjent Ahjar, The Gaia Foundation, and the Ramblers’ Association, without going into the merits of who should be awarded a public tender, have called upon the Government to abide by its pledges to ensure that all future power generation is as clean as possible. The decision must take into account not only financial cost but the health of the local population, the state of the environment, Malta’s international commitments on climate change and the relevant EU regulations on carbon and other emissions, as well as possible penalties that would be incurred by the EU for non compliance.


Malta has still to address the sad and pitiful saga related to the Marsa Power Station that has run on Heavy Fuel Oil. It would therefore be totally unacceptable that any conventional turbines newly commissioned would once again run on fuels that produce greater toxic emissions. While gas would be the preferred cleaner and more efficient option as soon as its use becomes possible, the fuels used until then should certainly not be the more polluting ones. Government should give a clear guarantee to the public that this will not be the case.

Environmental NGOs BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien Ghall-Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation and Nature Trust Malta today called on all the MEP candidates from all political parties to refrain from making promises to the hunting lobby on the issue of spring hunting and trapping which they can not keep after the European Parliament elections in June.

The NGOs reminded the MEP candidates that the EU Birds Directive strictly forbids spring hunting in all member states and drew attention to the European Commission’s statement of March 2009 regarding the EU guide to the sustainable hunting of wild birds.

In its statement the Commission said: "Although there is a general ban on the killing of wild birds, certain species can be hunted outside breeding and prenuptial (or spring) migration periods. These closed periods are critical and allow wild birds to renew their numbers." (1)

The NGOs said that they expected all the candidates who wish to represent Malta at the European Parliament to respect the EU nature conservation directives. They reminded the MEP candidates that the overwhelming majority in Malta is against spring hunting and the Maltese people expected their representatives in Brussels to work towards the protection of Europe’s common natural heritage.

Malta did not negotiate an exemption for spring hunting during the Accession Treaty negotiations as clearly explained by the Environment Commission Stavros Dimas on several occasions. The only agreement Malta negotiated was the five year transition period to phase out the trapping of seven finch species until the end of 2008, a deadline which has now passed.

By making ludicrous statements in favour of spring hunting of Turtle Dove and Quail, when Malta is at the European Court of Justice for allowing this very practice (2), certain politicians in Malta are still relying on the same old cheap tactics to gain a few votes. Instead we expect them to lead by example by respecting international law and conservation science concluded the NGOs.


Notes:
1)     The Commission’s full statement can be viewed here

2)     The Commission has taken Malta to court in 2008. Maltese government argues that there is no alternative to spring hunting of Turtle Dove and Quail while the Commission refers to the Maltese carne de chasse figures which shows that there is an alternative - hunting of these species in autumn.
3)     The European Guidance Document on Hunting can be found here. Pg 90 refers to the conservation status of Turtle Dove.

- Violation of policies and of residents’ health


The environmental NGOs, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, BirdLife Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation, Greenhouse, NatureTrust Malta and the Ramblers Association of Malta draw attention to the fact that the proposed development proposals for Villa Bonici in Sliema violates a number of MEPA policies and therefore should be rejected.

The proposed development in Manwel Dimech Street in Sliema includes the construction of a residential complex of up to 23 blocks, some as high as 12 floors, in the villa’s gardens which stretch almost all the way down  to the Sliema Strand.


Besides the impact on the heritage building, on the beautiful trees which are more than 50 years old, and on the many wild birds and other species that use this green oasis, the NGOs are also concerned about the increased air pollution which will have negative impact on the local residents. The addition of hundreds of flats and cars in an area which is already registering air pollution readings well in excess of EU thresholds is bound to aggravate health problems, as research has shown that vehicle emissions contribute to lung, heart and cancer problems.


The NGOs also highlight the fact that in the ratified 2006 Local Plan all the gardens of Villa Bonici have been excluded from the Urban Conservation Area. This obviously facilitates development on this site and is highly irregular as the change was effected without any public consultation whatsoever, in contravention of the Development Planning Act and the Aarhus Convention, so the NGOs maintain that the Urban Conservation conditions listed below should still apply.


MEPA policy UCO 13 reads: “Wherever possible, by control or positive intervention, buildings of architectural, historical, and townscape importance, gardens, and other areas of architectural or historical interest will be conserved.” This is repeated in policy UCO 13.


Scrutiny of the North Harbours Local Plan (NHLP) has confirmed that the application does not conform to the provisions of the Local Plan in terms of the proposed end-use, destruction of trees urban open space and urban congestion.


In the Local Plan Sliema is mentioned as an over-populated region “suffering from a lack of recreational space, infiltration of traffic, noise and other effects resulting from tourism development, commercial intensification and high housing densities’ and as an area which ‘cannot comfortably accommodate further development”.  In Sliema “25% of all dwellings … are completely vacant.”


Furthermore the NHLP states that development congestion should be reduced to “promote environmental improvements in urban area”, adding that “in the congested areas of … Sliema … the emphasis will be on new housing through rehabilitation and selective redevelopment rather than through extensive building, height relaxation or re-designation of open space”. “In … Sliema … further development would exceed environmental capacity through further noise, traffic, overshadowing, sense of enclosure and degradation of the public realm”


Sliema’s road network, water and electricity supply and sewers are already beyond their capability of supplying satisfactorily.  More mega-projects will again make matters worse.

Sliema has a serious problem of air pollution and an acute lack of green public open spaces. Since Villa Bonici is Sliema’s only surviving urban lung therefore the NGOs request the scheduling of the Villa and its gardens as a historic Sliema landmark and call for a project that will respect the value of the site as well as the Local Plan’s policies for Sliema.

Three environmental NGOs including Friends of the Earth Malta, Nature Trust (Malta) and BirdLife Malta, expressed their support for the Government’s long awaited initiative to invest in renewable energy to meet its EU obligations to cut down CO2 emission.

 

The NGOs also stated that the selection of locations for wind farms and associated infrastructure is a key to avoid impacts on wild birds and other biodiversity.
The environmental NGOs said that government’s investment in renewables can be hailed as a positive step forward, which should eventually lead Malta to decrease its dependence on fossil fuels in the longer term. This would be of great benefit to our environment, our social commitments and sovereignty as a nation, NGOs added.


BirdLife Malta Executive Director Tolga Temuge said: “At the same time, the conservation of biodiversity and resilient ecosystems is not only a stand-alone priority of global and European policy, but also an essential element for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Therefore, any significant damage from renewable energy development on biodiversity needs to be avoided.”


The environmental groups stated that all major wind farm projects should undergo a serious Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and also Appropriate Assessment as required by the EU nature conservation directives for projects like Sikka il-Bajda that would have adverse impact on the near by Rdum tal Madonna Natura 2000 site.


“We are glad that government is finally considering land based wind turbines, something that we have been arguing in favour of for a long time.” said Friends of the Earth Malta Chairperson Martin Galea De Giovanni. “Although we are aware of the potential sites, we would still want to see appropriate studies made prior to, and during, the construction of the turbines” he added. “These land based sites could eventually serve as an experience for other sites, both from a technical and environmental impacts point of view. When this experience is gained, Malta could potentially be able to undertake more ambitious wind turbine projects.”


The NGOs added that much more needed to be done in the development of clean and renewable energy at household level. The deployment of small-scale wind turbines and solar panels over the roofs of the Maltese houses should be encouraged and given the right importance, also with fiscal and economic incentives.


Nature Trust (Malta) Executive President said that “This should be done in conjunction with a major effort to increase efficiency in every sector of society including individual needs. By changing our habits a little and becoming more conscious of how much energy we use, each and every individual can successfully limit their own carbon footprint and save money on energy bills.”


The NGOs believe that if the Country focuses on a more diversified renewable energy mix this would reduce demands on fossil fuel energy needs and also the need to build a waste to energy incineration plant, especially since the latter also comes with a high financial and environmental cost.

The revision of the Waste Management Strategy comes 8 years after the original one was completed – rather late, most will agree, particularly since the team revising the strategy started the job back in 2005. The document states that the strategy sets a five-year plan. The fact that drafting the revision took 3 years leaves us all wondering about the actual worth of the document.

 

A strategy document should set direction after different alternatives have been assessed. However, the strategy document gives the feeling that it is a modus operandi, aiming to seal current practices rather than examining the outside environment and eventually setting a strategy that aims to provide a sustainable waste management action plan. This, from a strategic point of view, is very dangerous since the strategy is heavily dictated by inside considerations.

 

The said document points out at the very beginning that Malta’s focus is going to be waste-to-energy. The very important aspect of waste minimisation is very scantily mentioned with the only measure being the implementation of an awareness campaign. We have heard ad nauseum some would say, that waste minimisation at source cannot or is very difficult to achieve. However, this is the preferred option in the waste management hierarchy and the most sustainable solution for the Maltese Islands. The decoupling of municipal solid waste (MSW) from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth should form the basis of a sustainable waste management strategy particularly for a small island with limited space; however this is never mentioned in the document under review. An awareness campaign will be able to reach some objectives but campaigns are expensive to run, need to be continuous and, when they manage to reach the target population they are often blurred by ‘noise’ and distortion.

 

A reliable waste minimisation strategy should focus on producers and importers in order to avoid the generation of waste itself. The creation of more incentives/disincentives together with having a lengthy period to achieve tangible results, often includes a hefty administration bill. Possible solutions should look into providing cleaner technology advice that coach producers/importers to reduce the waste they produce, for e.g. in the case of packaging. Alternative type of packaging should also be looked into. Other solutions, which would integrate products and the services they provide and which is nowhere to be seen in the document under review, are product-service systems. The latter would offer consumers the chance obtain the service of particular products without actually purchasing them. Product-service systems are nowadays used for car-pooling, washing machines etc.

 

The Strategy’s review has tackled the current situation by simplistically looking at waste disposal figures in recent years (including waste separation data) and searched for a technology to fix the figures when they appear to be unattractive. This means that instead of getting to the root of the problem and searching for the reason why the data is what it is, the team revising the strategy made an overall assumption that these figures remain constant.

Waste in itself has a human dimension and this dimension seems to have been forgotten by the review team. A technology-based solution is an end-of pipe solution but what we need for the Maltese Islands is a sustainable solution and sustainability needs prevention not incineration.

 

Points to ponder about in the Waste Management Strategy:

  1. The document is not an end in itself but is based on a number of other documents that are not available to the general public;
  2. There is no reference to a financial analysis as to how much the proposed waste-to energy solution will cost and whether it is more financially viable than other discarded solutions;
  3. The strategy does not specify how much waste is planned for incineration, recycling and landfilling;
  4. The strategy states that the Recycle Tuesday initiative should be encouraged, however, to date, no assessment has been issued stating how much it is costing the Maltese taxpayer and the pressure it is causing on the Sant’ Antnin Waste Treatment facility;
  5. In the case of construction and demolition waste, no mention is made about the low price of local stone. The strategy mentions the possibility of an increase in the price for the disposal of construction and demolition, however increasing the price of stone will encourage its reuse, reduce wastage during production and lead to a higher appreciation of this mineral resource;
  6. The document states that Government still intends to achieve the 400 bring-in sites target but also mentions that WasteServ Malta Ltd has been allocated funding from structural funds for 300 such sites. Where is the rest of the funding coming from?
  7. The strategy states that one of the reasons for a waste-to-energy solution are the current oil prices, however these have gone down. Doesthis mean that the strategy is already outdated?
  8. Waste-to-energy is presented as a solution for all woes. People deserve a more objective view of this technology and so far they are still waiting.

Ghadira Coalition has written to MEPA, whereby it urged the Authority to conduct independent and credible scientific studies to verify the urgency for the proposed construction or upgrading of the proposed Ghadira Road .

‘Studies should include Environmental Impact Assessment, Traffic Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessment’, added Ghadira Coalition, which comprises  Zminijietna - Voice of the Left , Alternattiva Demokratika The Green Party, Science Students' Society, Moviment Graffitti, Friends of the Earth (Malta), Inizjamed, Labour Youth Forum, Greenhouse, General Workers' Union Youths, in addition to farmers' representatives.

 


 

Koalizjoni Ghadira theggeg lill-MEPA ghal studji xjentifici

Koalizzjoni Ghadira kitbet lill-MEPA, fejn hegget lil awtorita sabiex tikkommissjona studji xjentifici, indipendenti u kredibli li juru l-urgenza ghall-bini mill-gdid ta’ Triq l-Ghadira jew il-modifikazzjoni ta’ triq.

 

L-istudji ghandhom jinkludu ‘Assesjar ta’ l-impatti ambjentali, Assesjar ta’ l-impatti mit-traffiku u Assesjar ta’ l-impatti socjali, sahqet il-Koalizzjoni Ghadira li hija maghmula minn Zminijietna – Lehen ix-Xellug, Alternattiva Demokratika The Green Party, Ghaqda Studenti tax-Xjenza, Moviment Graffitti, Friends of the Earth Malta, Inizjamed, Forum Zghazagh Laburisti, Greenhouse, Zghazagh General Workers' Union, flimkien ma' rapprezentanti tal-bdiewa.

Friends of the Earth Malta welcomes the recommendations in the National Strategy on Climate Change as an intention of political will to address the issue of climate change.

 

However, FoE Malta is concerned that the exercise currently lacks the necessary depth and analysis to be considered a serious attempt to address the core problems in relation to climate change in Malta. Friends of the Earth is also glad to note that the recommendations leave the option open for having an effective climate change legislation.

As such, FoE has submitted various proposals in its review document. These include a proposal to have a Green Community Neighbourhood Watch which will cooperate within or in affiliation with Local Councils and consist of voluntary or paid staff providing training and informal education on environmental challenges and how to tackle them.

Download the review
In its submission, FoE Malta also proposes that in order to meet the target reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, projected emissions from major projects should be taken into consideration by a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and carried out by the proponent.
Regrettably it is observed that the Committee set forth these recommendations with the clear intention to not discuss adaptation measures, thus failing to offer a holistic climate change strategy. In addition the consultation period was limited both in timeframe and in the content and appointment of the Committee. A true consultation would have included a call for interested and knowledge parties to state their interest in participation and representation on the committee before commencing this exercise. FoE Malta firmly believes that it is an asset to decision-making on the/a national climate change strategy and believes that NGOs should be represented on such decision-making bodies.

FoE Malta observed that there are no signs of monitoring being included in the strategy. Evaluation is a stronghold of scientific validity and should thus be an integral part of the strategy together with transparency and accountability. FoE Malta requests decisions based on sound knowledge and science to determine a strategy on climate change. A hunch or feeling is not to be supported within a scientific study. FoE Malta states that the limitations on analysing data available on Malta’s emissions must be addressed immediately.

FoE Malta believs that action on climate change issues should start without delay. Many recommendations, if followed, will start to be acted on by the government in late 2009. However, unless an operational climate change department is set up or the current units and individuals entrusted with following climate change policy are provided with the necessary financial and human resources, it will not be easy to start working on some of the recommendations in 2009.
Friends of the Earth is glad to note that the path towards climate change legislation is open, even though government has failed to support the motion by Hon. Brincat which would have brought about the legislation sooner rather than later.

We couldn't have gotten this far without the hundreds and hundreds of people who contacted their MP to ask for just such a Bill - if you were one of those people, thank you!

Now that the long awaited Spiteri Gingell report on Climate Change is out, Friends of the Earth will analyse the content and submit its recommendations accordingly. Nonetheless, as with any other report, they are fairly useless unless there is a sound implementation structure. In this specific case we believe that this should be nothing less than a Bill. This has been tried and tested in the UK and is currently being discussed in many other European countries. FoE groups in 17 different countries are in fact asking for such legislation - http://www.bigask.eu/ .

In February of 2007, Friends of the Earth Malta launched its Big Ask campaign in Freedom Square, Valletta. Since then - thanks to you - we've: attended festivals and gigs and spread the word via the media and local events.

In December of 2008, we joined up with Zminijetna - Voice of the Left, University of Malta Geographical Society (UMGS), Nature Trust, Malta Breast Feeding Foundation, Malta Medical Students' Association (MMSA), Moviment Graffitti, Insite, BICREF and guest speakers Mr. Arnold Cassola, chairperson for Alternattiva Demokratika and the Honourable Leo Brincat Labour Party spokesperson for climate change, in St George's Square, Valletta for Global Climate Action Day.
Yesterday's parliamentary session brought hope for our Big Ask. The Bill is what people have been lobbying their MPs for. Friends of the Earth thinks that politicians would do well to work together and forget their political differences on matters as important as climate change. One should realize that the government's report and the motion raised by the opposition should have complemented each other to bring about a sense of collective leadership. Past actions should only make for a stronger commitment on Climate Change.

We need year-on-year cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, policies to make the cuts a reality, and ways of keeping the Government on track. With your help over the coming year we can do this.

In a joint statement issued today Gaia Foundation, Nature Trust (Malta), Friends of the Earth Malta and BirdLife Malta welcomed those candidates for the European Parliament who have put environmental and social issues as priorities in their election campaigns.

The NGOs expressed their firm belief that all MEP candidates from across the political spectrum should respect the EU nature conservation directives and work for the benefit of Malta’s natural environment and not for the benefit of certain interest groups.

With environmental issues becoming more of a priority to Maltese citizens, some European Parliament candidates such as Roberta Metsola Tedesco Triccas and Edward Demicoli have so far highlighted the importance of environmental issues during their election campaigns and given this issue a higher focus.

However, in reaction to Edward Demicoli’s position against spring hunting, the Hunters Federation FKNK recently issued a directive to its members urging them to boycott Mr. Demicoli.

“It is evident that the FKNK administration has no respect for EU Nature Directives but is instead solely interested in retaining their own interest,” the NGOs stated. “In today’s age Maltese citizens, whether they are hunters or not, have the liberty and wisdom of choosing whom to vote based on their free will and not on medieval directives issued by interest groups such as the FKNK. Considering the existing ground support for putting nature protection high on the agenda, such calls for boycotts will most likely backfire.”

The NGOs added that they also expected all the political parties to respect the position of the MEP election candidates in line with their statements that the environment is a priority for their party.  The parties should therefore support these candidates who have committed themselves in working towards the full implementation of the EU Nature Directives and to safeguard both Malta and Europe’s common natural heritage from threats such as climate change, pollution and illegal hunting among other important environmental issues, the NGOs concluded.
Friends of the Earth Malta is appealing to all MPs to give their full support towards having a Climate Change Bill. This appeal comes ahead of the vote to be taken in Parliament on Thursday 15th January. This initiative is also being supported by BirdLife Malta, Din L-Art Helwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA), GAIA Foundation, Light Pollution Awareness Group, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta and Zminijietna.

Climate change is considered to be one of the most pressing concerns that will be faced by our country and the EU within the next 5 to 10 years. According to recent statistics the Maltese electorate is worried about escalating fuel and relative costs such as energy prices and an increase in surcharge rates. A legislation committing the country to a sustainability plan that tackles emissions and renewable energy will have to define strict parameters if Malta is to reach the targets set by EU regulations.

Friends of the Earth Malta is proposing that through the integration of environmentally friendly systems of transport and energy, CO2 emissions are reduced through legally binding commitments to cut emissions year-on-year. These cuts should be equal to at least a 30 percent reduction of EU-wide domestic emissions by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050. FoE Malta has been collecting signatures for a petition since February 2008 in order to make this a possibility and is thus in full support of the Climate Change Bill as proposed by Hon. Leo Brincat during the 9th October parliament session.

Over 2000 letters have also been sent by concerned citizens to all members of parliament asking them to commit their support to the new legislation in favour of a strong law tackling climate change. By supporting and commit in legislating the bill, Malta’s politicians will be taking the lead and answering the call for a groundbreaking piece of legislation that all political parties should be proud of. The U.K and Finland have already made this important step, whilst other countries such as Ireland, Austria and Belgium are in the process of enacting such legislation.

Will Malta be one of the first countries to have a climate change bill or will it linger on until it ends up becoming one of the few with no legally binding strategy? Action on Climate Change will not be brought about simply by counting the number of reports available; no matter how good they are. The reality is that both reports and legally binding strategies are required in order to put our country on a path of sustainable energy consumption.

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