We have seen much and heard much about climate change over the past years. We are at a point now in which, unless we act, dire consequences and dystopian scenarios will unravel before us to our detriment, causing harm to future generations.

Every country and every citizen, including Malta and the Maltese, have to play their part.

This government must not only declare a state of emergency, which we have done in Parliament, but take action in the form of a working programme.

While it is true that we have already approved a Climate Change Act that recognises a state of emergency, we have once again reaffirmed the need to act on this emergency, as witnessed by the heated debate in Parliament last week.

We are starting to steer in the right direction by making bold decisions. Such is the announced date when imported cars using petrol and diesel will cease to be imported in the Maltese islands.

However, we must have national consensus in order to make change happen.

Ours, in fact, is a sincere invitation for all ministries and Opposition committees to step up and not only implement all 35 measures laid out in the budget presented for 2020 in favour of the environment, but to each become protagonists in this dire need for change.

The writing is on the wall. The latest reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last August and September present the precarious state of the effects on climate change. They clearly indicate that the actions being taken so far on a global basis will still lead to global temperatures to rise more than 2˚Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels.

We are among the countries that generate lower per capita emissions related to climate change

We must keep in mind that the global community has already failed to implement the measures established in the Paris Agreement in 2015. The results are communities and eco-systems that are affected in tragic ways. People are suffering droughts, extensive flooding, hunger and stunted social and economic growth.

We now need to respond to the international and European calls to make plans in order to meet carbon neutrality by 2050.

The Maltese government was among the first of a few countries that introduced a legislative framework on Climate Change through the Act on Climate Action in 2015. This Act was introduced by consensus of the House and provides for action to contribute to the reduction of climate change. Additionally, an Action Panel on Climate was set up in order to see that climate change is addressed in Malta.

Ours is one of the few countries that appointed an Ambassador for Climate Action, and one of the very few that made the change from heavy fuel oil to natural gas in its generation of electricity.

We can achieve national targets together. Despite the realities associated with the geo-physical characteristics of our islands, we have seen an increase in energy generation from renewable sources by less than two per cent in 2011 to 7.8 per cent in 2018, and this is attributed to the determination in our policy-making decisions. Indeed, we are among the countries that generate lower per capita emissions related to climate change in the European Union.

We must now recognise that climate change is a result of emissions from various sectors, including the industrial sector, energy production facilities, road transportation, the maritime sector, aviation, the building sector, the agricultural sector and the entities handling waste.

This cannot merely be our mission to accomplish as a ministry. While we are doing our utmost, this is a battle we need to take on as a nation and more importantly globally. The state of emergency we are in should very well serve as a jolt to make us work together as a nation, for the sake of future Maltese citizens who deserve a healthier future.

José Herrera is Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us