The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Climate emergency - When bandwagons are good a thing

Saturday, 12 October 2019, 09:00 Last update: about 30 days ago

The entire world may be currently jumping aboard the climate change emergency bandwagon, but such bandwagons are not always bad or merely cosmetic things.  Sometimes they are worthy vehicles on a worthy trip to a worthy destination.

The Opposition Nationalist Party yesterday bought its tickets aboard the climate change emergency express, and for that the country should be grateful.

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The Nationalist Party will be tabling a motion in Parliament next week requesting the government to declare a climate change emergency, along similar lines adopted by other countries such as Australia and Ireland, which have both declared similar emergencies.

This is more than mere hyperbole, there are a number of very clear and present dangers that the Maltese population is living with and suffering from on a daily basis.

The idea is to have a set of robust laws set in Maltese legislation on combating climate change.

Now one may ask what difference tiny Malta can make in the global scheme of things.  The answer is that every single bit helps, no matter how trivial, and each and every country has its own part to play.

More than that, there are a number of clear and very present dangers affecting our health in a very real, and frightening, way.

One of those is the menace of ship pollution, with pollution being generated by cruise ships in Maltese ports being around 148 times higher than the pollution generated by all the vehicles found on Malta’s Maltese roads.

It is estimated that 283,000 vehicles generate 3.4 tonnes of sulphur oxides, while 83 cruise liners which visited Malta last year generated 502.8 tonnes, the Opposition Leader correctly pointed out yesterday. Air pollution in Malta is estimated by the EU to cost over €182 million in healthcare costs and 44,000 days of lost work due to avoidable respiratory diseases.

This newspaper has been screaming about this very problem until it is now blue in the face, something clearly has to be done, and we take heart in the fact that the Opposition, in the face of what appears to be opposition from the government itself, is attempting to take the bull by the horns.

As the Opposition said yesterday, ‘The environment has no place in party politics, and we must all play our part in safeguarding it.’

We fully, wholeheartedly concur.

Along these exact lines is the proposal for the introduction of an actio popolaris legal right for on environmental matters, which would give every citizen the right to be able to mount a legal case on environmental matters in court, and a digital platform open to all and sundry to share and exchange ideas on the environment and environmental studies.

But in the face of all this, what does the governing Labour Party have to say about it, instead of agreeing with these sterling proposals?  It rubbishes them, points fingers at past sins and simply declares that the Opposition is not credible when it comes to speaking about the environment.

We had been under the impression that this is a ‘government that listens’.  Well, it clearly is not listening to the public sentiment out there when it comes to climate change, and it certainly is not listening to the Opposition.  So who, or what, is it listening to, exactly?

Truth be told, neither of the two main political parties is very credible when it comes to safeguarding the environment, but when one side of that equation makes actionable, worthwhile suggestions, why not jump aboard that bandwagon too?  They can share the ride or hijack it, we really don’t mind, as long as it is the environment – and by default our health and our children’s future - that will benefit.

Anything short of that is just a downright dereliction of duty.

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