Greenhouse gas emissions dropped across the EU over the past three decades but not in Malta.
According to a new report published on Thursday by the European Environment Agency, Malta is one of six EU member states to register an increase in greenhouse gases compared to 1990.
The agency’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report found that between 1990 and 2017, Malta’s total emissions grew by 2.3% while the EU as a whole saw a drop of 23%.
Total emissions across the EU decreased by 1,327 million tonnes since 1990 (or 23.5%), reaching their lowest level during the period in 2014.
Another report published earlier this month listed Malta as having posted the second highest increase in emissions from 2017 to 2018. According to that report, the island registered an increase of 6.7%, second only to Latvia, up 8.5%.
Greenhouse gas emissions are influenced by factors such as climate conditions, economic growth as well as the size of the population, transport and industrial activities.
The island has been lagging far behind its targets
In Malta, these emissions have been largely attributed to transport and traffic but also to a dependence on heavy fuel oil for energy production, which was phased out in recent years.
The latest report notes that Malta was the only EU country not to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, which is directly linked to fuel combustion in cars.
The island has been lagging far behind its greenhouse gas reduction targets. While most member states have been cleaning up their air, in 2017, Malta actually registered a substantial increase of 12.8%, the highest across the EU.
According to the EEA’s report, although traditionally economic activity was tied to global emissions, there has been a “progressive decoupling” of economic activity, measured in gross domestic product (GDP), and greenhouse gas emissions compared to the 1990s.
The EU’s overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the 27-year period was due to a variety of factors, including the growing share in the use of renewables, the use of less carbon-intensive fuels and improvements in energy efficiency, as well as structural changes in the economy and the economic recession.
Demand for energy to heat households has also been lower, as Europe, on average, experienced milder winters since 1990, which also helped reduce emissions.