Updated 6.11pm with PN reaction -
Malta has the second highest increase in carbon dioxide emissions from 2017 to 2018, the latest figures have revealed.
The country registered an increase of 6.7 per cent, second only to Latvia, which registered an increase of 8.5 per cent.
On average, carbon dioxide emissions in European countries decreased by 2.5 per cent between 2017 and 2018. Malta was one of only eight countries to register an increase, the figures revealed.
Carbon dioxide emissions are a major contributor to global warming and account for around 80 per cent of all EU greenhouse gas emissions. They are influenced by factors such as climate conditions, economic growth, size of the population, transport and industrial activities.
In Malta, carbon dioxide emissions have been largely attributed to transport and traffic.
Malta has been lagging far behind its greenhouse gas reduction targets. In 2017, the country registered a substantial increase of 12.8 per cent – the largest increase across all the European Union.
Malta’s inadequate results have cost the country tens of thousands, the Times of Malta has reported. Last year, the paper revealed the government had to resort to “flexibility measures” by funding a green project in Bulgaria to buy off extra emissions-reduction points.
The move seeks to mitigate for the poor results Malta received in a European Commission progress report. The report found the country failed to reach emission reduction targets every year since 2013 and that it was unlikely to reach goals set for 2020.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat conceded vehicle emissions were the biggest source of pollution in Malta.
The government will be seeking to set a cut-off date beyond which all new car purchases would have to be electric or similar, he said. Dr Muscat has also outlined his vision for Gozo to be the first island to shift to electric cars.
In a reaction, the Nationalist Party said the Eurostat data confirmed how the Maltese government had no plan to tackle Malta’s environmental challenges and was ignoring the fact that poor air quality was detrimental to health.
Stephen Spiteri, opposition spokesman for health, said deaths from respiratory disease had risen.
One of the reasons for poor air quality was emissions from cars, which were continuing to increase because the population had risen sharply without a proper plan.
The Eurostat data needed to be seen in the context of the latest report by the European Environment Agency that showed Malta having the fourth worse air quality and a 12% increase of carbon dioxide in three years.
Some 600 people are dying every year as a result of respiratory disease, he said.
EP elections candidate Roselyn Borg Knight said this was another blow after Euronews described Malta as 'The Dirty Man of Europe' because of its dismal waste recycling rate.