A friend, who works in the corporate field, called me last week to discuss his latest vacation. That vacation was a snowboarding holiday. The key thing that struck me from the conversation was his statement “Climate change is so clear – there was barely any snow. I climbed up once, and after seeing how little snow there was, didn’t bother going back up again.”

We then discussed the economic implications for the region, which is heavily dependent on snow-based tourism. Our conclusions were that unless the region finds an alternative economic staple, it will suffer.

A key component in the fight against climate change is reducing CO2 emissions. The EU is one of the global leaders in pushing policy and tangible initiatives aimed at this goal. Initiatives are wide-ranging, tackling everything from food production and waste, to transport, to energy production and efficiency.

As a business representative entity, the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) acknowledges the critical importance for the business community to act towards these goals. A key policy implementation component is energy efficiency within the industrial sectors.

Malta has a success story in this field. The latest national statistics show that within the industrial and services sectors, gross value added increased by 10 per cent while energy consumption only increased by three per cent per annum. This means that these sectors are learning and implementing the production and provision of goods and services in a more energy efficient manner.

This has not just happened overnight. Malta has been working hard on energy efficiency for the business sectors since 2014. Impressively, the various stakeholders have aligned well in position and in action.

Within the industrial and services sectors, gross value added increased by 10 per cent while energy consumption only increased by three per cent per annum

Ranging from the government’s Energy and Water Agency, to the University of Malta and Mcast, to related ministries and authorities, to stakeholder entities such as the Malta Chamber of Commerce, the MHRA, the Chamber of Engineers, to individual actors who collectively have performed well, such as energy auditors, the MBB has yet to meet a national stakeholder which does not take energy efficiency seriously as both a policy measure and as concrete actionable plans.

The success achieved to date is tangible and worth building on. At the same time, climate change continues to the detriment of socioeconomic and environmental well-being. Therefore, efforts must increase. The MBB is prepared to continue playing its part in this area.

Looking at industry, there are companies with very advanced practices and capacity for energy efficiency. These include companies which have developed and manufacture award-winning energy-efficiency products, companies which are trialing new energy-efficient technologies in support of innovative suppliers, and even companies which have designed their own enhanced energy-efficient manufacturing or building services processes. Yet, the potential for further improvement on a more widespread and national basis is there.

To help achieve that potential, the MBB’s Business Energy Cluster is linking these performing companies with companies that lack the technical capacity for identifying, designing, planning and implementing higher level energy projects. We believe that this will drive even more energy-efficient projects by providing the knowledge to those companies that need it.

Additionally, there is excellent opportunity in Malta for the implementation of new financing measures. This is particularly so for ESCO (Energy Services Company) model financing, where suppliers cover the project costs for energy-efficient measures, then recover these costs through the company’s savings that arise from these projects.

This is a model which has been explored by individual stakeholders in Malta, however, which has yet to achieve a foothold. We believe that, together with the maintenance of existing measures such as outreach, education and training, financial schemes aimed at supporting investment costs and energy, there is room for such a model to succeed.

To reiterate, Malta’s industrial sector – a long-established and staple part of Malta’s economy – has performed well in the field of energy efficiency. This should be celebrated and the success built on to reap even more rewards.

The wins are clear – higher productivity for lower costs, reduced CO2 emissions on a national basis, and exciting developments in the green jobs sector. We have done well – let’s build on our success and do even better. From a social, environmental and economic perspective, this is needed.

Joe Tanti is CEO of the Malta Business Bureau. The MBB is the EU-business advisory and support office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association.

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