The Malta Independent 11 December 2017, Monday

The future of European zero-carbon economies will start in Malta with the Valletta Declaration

Tuesday, 16 May 2017, 11:45 Last update: about 8 months ago

Eighteen months ago representatives from 200 countries met in Paris to make a global agreement on how to reduce carbon emissions, and thus limit climate change. Climate-KIC and Paragon Europe are looking at how to achieve a zero-carbon economy beyond 2030 to mitigate the severely damaging effects of climate change through a full-day Climate Change Conference that is part of the official Maltese-EU Presidency programme entitled 'Towards a Zero Carbon Economy by 2030' at the Old University in Valletta on May 29. 

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Government legislation, the growing green economy and innovations in low carbon technology are helping to drive change and move Malta and our Mediterranean neighbours towards a low carbon economy.

By organising a Malta conference around 3 important pillars, the challenges and solutions in green urban centres, circular economy and green finance; the conference will also showcase the key deliverables achieved so far on Smart Sustainable Districts in the Mediterranean. Throughout the conference the focus will be on low carbon mobility concepts, the operation of smart grids, energy neutral buildings, the promotion of efficient water management and improvement of public and green spaces.

The Paris accord is the first new worldwide consensus on climate change for 18 years, and delegates from wealthy countries have provisionally accepted a requirement for them to deliver $100 billion a year after 2020 to help poorer countries reach the agreed targets. In support of carbon reduction objectives, the European Climate Foundation produced Roadmap 2050, a guide designed to assess the feasibility of achieving a prosperous, reliable European economy with an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions. The Malta Climate Change Conference projects reaching a zero-carbon economy showcase by around 2030. 

The conference co-organisers, Paragon Europe and Climate-KIC, understand that government hopes that making companies measure and report their emissions will put pressure on them to set reduction targets and put in place carbon management initiatives.

200 concerned delegates from all over the world will converge in Malta on May 29 for what promises to be Europe's most important Climate Conference this year, where high-level speakers from the public and private sectors will be presenting their views on how business can move to low carbon operations, how government and EU legislation is helping to tackle this issue, and how financial and technological incentives can assist organisations in reducing their carbon footprint.

The incentive to reduce carbon emissions does not just come from sanctions and restrictions. The growing green economy, including goods and services produced to protect the environment, offers increasing financial incentives for companies to turn to low carbon. The green economy added over €100BN to the EU's economy and provided 557,200 full time equivalent jobs.

Innovative ideas submitted to Paragon Europe who are the national contact point for Climate-KIC funding include a football that uses a gyroscopic mechanism to capture energy during play and store it for later use. The football, designed to be used in developing countries that do not have reliable electricity, can be used to power mobile phone chargers, batteries or LED lamps. Paragon Europe CEO Dr. Anton Theuma said of the scheme, "There is now real momentum for change in the way business is done, profit alone must not be the only driving force, we were delighted to award Maltese companies over €100,000 last year and this year we intend to move ahead very rapidly in investing in Maltese business that supports innovation around climate change."

Both the private and public sectors have had success in reducing their carbon emissions, through a combination of reduction initiatives and innovations. Public sector bodies have identified total lifetime carbon and cost savings of 600 million tonnes of CO2. A carbon saving of 17.5 million tonnes is equivalent to the total annual emissions of a country like Slovenia, who joined the EU at the same time as Malta. 

In terms of success stories elsewhere, Glasgow City Council is an example of a public body that has successfully reduced its emissions, with the help of an ambitious planning policy. The policy requires energy efficient design in new developments, an increase in renewable energy generation and the use of low or zero carbon technologies. In 2015, the city announced plans to install 10,000 energy efficient street lamps, which will reduce energy consumption by 50% compared to traditional lamps and cut emissions by more than 50,000 tonnes over 20 years.

Delegates attending the Malta Climate Change Conference on May 29 will learn about the arguments surrounding reducing CO2 emissions in the public and private sectors, how government legislation is helping organisations to reach their goals, and ways in which innovations in planning and technology are enabling the EU member states to work collectively to reach carbon reduction targets.

The conference will be opened by The Hon. José Herrera, Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, and includes a raft of global experts including Kirsten Dunlop, Chief Executive Officer, Climate-KIC, Dario della Sala, Head of Division "Sustainable Materials", ENEA, Giovanni Pavesi, CEO, Linde Gas Italy, Jochen Froebrich, Coordinator of Water and AgriFood, WssTP, Damian Ludewig, Director, Green Budget and Professors C.S Psomopoulos and G.C. Ioannides, Electrical Engineering Department, Piraeus University of Applied Sciences.

Paragon Group Chairman Edwin Ward said: "The European Commission is looking at cost-efficient ways to make the European economy more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming. Paragon Europe was selected by Climate-KIC as the best-in-class partner to deliver on that goal for Malta. Paragon Group are proud to lead this from the front as the the national contact point for Climate-KIC, and for the European hydrogen programme, to be Malta's representative in MEDENER and in MEDCOP, to be active members in ERRIN leading their S3 Working Group, and as founders of three clusters so far in Malta; water, digital and circular economy. This conference will change the funding and collaboration landscape for the Mediterranean."


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