Malta will again have to dig into its pockets to make good for not reaching EU-wide emission targets, according to a new report.
A European Commission progress report found that Malta had failed to reach its emission reduction target “every year since 2013” and would again need to buy emission reduction credits from other countries that had exceeded theirs.
Times of Malta reported last year that in Bulgaria a solar farm or some other mystery green project was being funded by Maltese taxpayers because the island kept missing its targets.
The issue dates back to 2007, when the EU first launched its 2020 targets, according to which member states must substantially reduce their greenhouse gases.
Malta has been lagging far behind its greenhouse gas reduction targets that it was forced to resort to what are known as flexibility measures
Malta has been lagging far behind its greenhouse gas reduction targets that it was forced to resort to what are known as flexibility measures. This takes the form of a bilateral agreement to buy Bulgaria’s extra emissions-reduction points.
The Bulgarian government is bound to use the money it makes from selling its extra reductions on climate change awareness projects, research or green energy initiatives.
The Maltese government refused to divulge how much taxpayers are forking out to buy Bulgarian points.
A source familiar with the transaction of such credits, told the Times of Malta the EU had published the total transacted volumes of emissions credits. So far, the Malta-Bulgaria transactions were the only ones that would appear to have gone through.
In 2013, Malta had purchased about 82,000 credits at an undisclosed price. This had since gone up to 135,000 in 2015, the latest figures available on the transactions website.
Times of Malta had quoted government sources indicating that the cost of the agreement could well run into “hundreds of thousands of euros annually”.
A spokesman for the Environment Ministry, however, would only say that the agreement reached could not be made public.
Neither would the Bulgarian government say how much had Malta spent, saying only that the money was directed to its National Trust Eco Fund to be used for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. The money, Bulgaria said, had not all been spent yet.
The European Commission report says that most member states were expected to reach their 2020 targets. Malta, however, was among the eight that would not. Ireland has projected it may miss its target by 20 percentage points while Cyprus and Malta may miss theirs by 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria and Finland may also fall short, but by smaller margins, the report says.
Describing Malta’s margins as “high”, the Commission says that, in addition to rising emissions from road transport, discharges have been rising sharply, mainly because of increased demand for air-conditioning.
In May 2018, as part of the European Semester annual cycle of economic coordination, Malta was urged to set targets and implement measures to reduce congestion and emissions from transport substantially by 2025, allowing for the periodic monitoring of progress.