Malta is one of the five countries in the European Union that has registered the least progress in fighting climate change. In a report by the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Malta was given a rating of “very poor” and was ranked 24th of 29 places.

Malta’s ranking had come about since it was on track to miss its renewable energy targets and had a low rate of converting to renewable energy. It was also set to miss its targets on reducing emissions from agriculture, transport and building and scored poorly on the percentage of EU structural funds it used to finance the transition to low-carbon use. Moreover, the report found that Malta had no domestic targets on climate and energy beyond the EU target.

The government disagrees and insists that Malta is “well on track” to reach its 2020 renewable energy targets. A spokeswoman for the Energy and Water Agency insisted that the island’s share of renewable energy stood at 6.1 per cent in 2016, rising to an estimated seven per cent last year.

The CAN report notes that the majority of European countries are missing the mark and failing to increase the chances of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. This should strengthen the government’s resolve to ensure there is no lax approach at confronting this global challenge and should push for all stakeholders to give their full share.

We all know the effects climate change could have on the lives of future generations of Maltese and, indeed, Malta’s future survival too.

The increasing incidence of extreme weather events, the drastic effects on our precious water supply, the coastal flooding resulting from rising sea levels, the effects of warming on our marine ecology and the effects on agriculture of an arid and increasingly hot environment are now scientifically proven consequences of climate change.

That is more than enough reasons to ensure nobody is dragging one’s feet on increasing renewable energy sources and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, of which our grossly overloaded polluting traffic are the direct poisonous cause.

The picture is dire. And the time left to prepare for these extremely serious potential challenges is short.

Even if Malta is “well on track”, a strategy for Malta to cope with the potential consequences of life-changing climate change is a must.

This will involve not only the worthy and necessary attempts to devise ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of alternative energy sources but also tackling every other aspect of this complex problem.

The response to climate change has to be holistic, dealing with every element of the economic, social and environmental consequences.

Those who would argue it will be a while before the possibly cataclysmic effects of global warming begin to impinge on our lives should realise that the process has already started and can only get worse.

Although responsibility for climate change rests with the Minister for the Environment, strong inter-ministerial coordination needs to be exercised, bringing together every government department to draw up an Action Plan for Climate Change and to prepare properly for the adoption of the EU’s 2030 energy legislation and the next climate summit in 2024.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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