The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Cancún Summit ‘positive’ but unresolved issues remain

Malta Independent Wednesday, 12 January 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 8 years ago

George Pullicino, the Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs, spent the first part of yesterday morning’s parliamentary session briefing the House of the agreements reached between 200 countries which participated in last month’s climate change summit in Cancún, Mexico.

“The outcome of the Cancún summit was definitely more fruitful in the worldwide fight against climate change than that of Copenhagen a year previously, which did not yield the desired effects as first hoped.

“This time round, the majority of nations which participated in the summit stressed their commitment to compromise on electricity consumption as part of the worldwide challenge to ensure that the world’s climate does not increase by more than two degrees within the next few years,” said Mr Pullicino, albeit admitting that “loopholes in certain agreements remain”.

“Japan, for instance, is committed to reduce its energy levels only, however, if United States and China follow suit.

“The United Nations is also wary that while Malta and the other 26 EU states have set bloc-targets to reduce electricity consumption across the EU, rapidly developing countries, such as India, Brazil and South Africa, also need to play their part and shoulder some responsibility in the worldwide fight against climate change,” Mr Pullicino said.

Answering a set of questions by shadow environment minister Leo Brincat, who asked the Minister to shed more light into the aftermath of the Cancún summit, Mr Pullicino said the EU has strengthened its relationship with China “to unprecedented levels”, and both will liaise together more closely in the near future in the fight against climate change.

However, since the Kyoto Protocol to prevent climate changes and global warming will run out in 2012, Mr Pullicino said that talks are still at an early stage over a new international framework, which needs to be negotiated and ratified to deliver the stringent emission reduction the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly indicated is needed, but expressed hope that the next climate change summit in Durban, South Africa, later this year, will lead to a more positive step in this direction.

Asked about the setting up of a $100 billion ‘green climate fund’, aimed at helping poor countries defend themselves against climate change, Mr Pullicino said it remained unclear in last month’s summit how the funds would be raised, despite the rich countries’ commitment to do so annually until 2020.

Minister Pullicino quoted Lord Stern, the former adviser to the UK Government on the Economics of Climate Change and Development, who said that funding $100 billion every year for the fight against climate change will “be challenging, but viable”.

Should the world’s leading countries agree on the establishment of such fund, Mr Pullicino said that there are preliminary agreements for the World Bank to be the interim trustee of this fund, but “no concrete details emerge on the powers the World Bank will have over this fund”.

In Cancún, Mr Pullicino said, Malta joined the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an innovative new public-private partnership to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.

Malta, he added, presented Timothy Wirth, the president of the United Nations Foundation, with a donation of €125,000 as part of the UN’s bid to limit exposure to smoke from traditional stoves and open fires – the primary means of cooking and heating for three billion people in developing countries, and which causes almost two million deaths annually, with women and young children affected most, and which also translates into a life lost every 16 seconds.

Answering questions by Philip Mifsud, the parliamentary assistant in his ministry, of what the government is doing to reduce energy levels in Malta, Mr Pullicino said the government has just issued a call for an expression of interest for the newly constructed childcare centres in Xewkija, Kordin and Mosta, together with the new ICT building at University, to be covered with Photo Voltaic (PV) panels, which will save Malta 1,800 tonnes in CO2 emissions every year.

The government has also invested €4 million in energy saving lamps which have been distributed to the people and is committed to offering more subsidies to encourage more people to invest in solar water heaters and PV panels.

He also expressed confidence that the memorandum of understanding with Portugal which Malta signed last month will lead to more electric vehicles on the road.

The Minister sounded confident that Malta will learn more in the coming months from Portugal once the latter launches its car charging network which will allow all electric vehicle drivers the option of recharging at multiple points along their journey – no matter what car’s being driven, what service point’s been used and which service operator the point belongs to.

25 cities and towns will host a total of 1,435 Portuguese electric vehicle charging points.

‘Government needs to shed light over oil exploration details’

Also speaking during yesterday morning’s parliamentary debate were PL MPs Michael Farrugia and Leo Brincat.

Dr Farrugia, the PL’s spokesman for health, once again bemoaned the chaos at Mater Dei’s Accident and Emergency Department and lamented the bed shortage problem which has led to scores of patients having to rest on stretchers until a bed becomes available.

The government not only failed to invest in human resources shortly after Mater Dei was inaugurated, which has resulted in a shortage of some 700 nurses, but it also failed to listen to the PL’s advice to build another floor on top of the hospital’s current ward block, Dr Farrugia commented.

Mr Brincat called on the government to shed more light into its oil exploration exercises, “for every Maltese citizen should be kept abreast with the latest developments in this field” and questioned whether the island is making giant strides in its quest to find oil as was first hoped.

He also asked the government whether it is true that certain countries are raising claims over which areas in the Mediterranean Sea fall under Malta’s jurisdiction for oil exploration, and highlighted that the government needs to make public where and from whom it is purchasing and importing oil.

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