The Malta Independent 26 October 2016, Wednesday

Environment NGOs refuse seat on Climate Action Board, government reacts

Saturday, 9 January 2016, 08:22 Last update: about 11 months ago

Environment organisations will be refusing Minister Leo Brincat’s invitation to take a seat on the Climate Action Board, as a sign of protest at the Government’s lack of commitment to environmental priorities, the eNGOs said in a statement this morning.

Although the eNGOs (Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth, NatureTrust Malta, Ramblers Association) realise that formally MEPA was not under Minister Brincat’s direct responsibility, they still maintain he has done far too little to ward off the worst excesses afflicting the environment. Minister Brincat’s participation in the three-Minister press conference at Ta’ Barkat to justify the take-up of the original large ODZ site at Zonqor is a case in point.  Similarly, Minister Brincat does not seem overly concerned that the Environment Directorate has not been functioning effectively for the last two years, a fact highlighted repeatedly by the eNGOs. The parliamentary debate on the MEPA separation completely exposed the hollowness of Government’s commitment to the environment.

However the eNGOs’ final verdict was not decided by these factors, they said, even though recent eNGO experience on boards weighed heavily as they were inevitably outnumbered, generally ignored and forced to helplessly watch the rapid degradation of what passes for environmental protection in Malta: the Zonqor debacle, unnecessary high-rise buildings, illegal songbird trapping with hugely inflated catches permitted, new policies that facilitate building in ODZ, the sidestepping of policies to facilitate reclamation, aiding and abetting criminal acts like the stealing of electricity at illegal boathouse shantytowns and the ongoing Montekristo charade.  Despite all this, the eNGOs had come to the conclusion that they would take up the offer of a seat on the Climate Action Board.

That frame of mind favouring cooperation was shattered by the developments regarding the new “Wild Birds” regulations, designed to facilitate hunters’ and trappers’ killing of endangered species. These proposals coming from the Ministry with responsibility for Environment and Climate Change actions contradict the very ethos of the said Ministry. They are designed specifically to aid and abet the most uncivilised and lawless practices of some hunters and trappers.  We maintain that this government is hell-bent on appeasing rather than doing the right thing.

The hypocrisy of allowing the killing of endangered species on the pretext that they are not protected by the EU has caused the Environment Ministry to lose all credibility. This loss has been developing for some time through the activities of Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes; but not even he can refute the fact that allowing rich hunters to import birds killed in South America or Egypt will further undermine the survival of species. The increasing rate of extinction of several species is a well-established effect of Climate Change, hence the concern in the COP 21 final document:  The “integrity of all ecosystems” is noted, along with “the imperative of biodiversity protection”.  It should therefore come as no surprise that under such conditions no respectable eNGO would want to occupy a seat on the Climate Action Board. 

The eNGOs will therefore not be taking up the offer of a place on the Climate Action Board.

In reply, the government said that the opportunity at hand is unique and the government will remain open to discussions with all stakeholders.




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