The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

A smart, sustainable island

Timothy Alden Sunday, 18 July 2021, 09:36 Last update: about 3 months ago

This week, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry submitted its feedback on the public consultation for the government's Low Carbon Development Strategy

Each Member State of the European Union is obliged to create such a strategy, the desired outcome of which is the European Union meeting its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. Malta is uniquely positioned as a microstate to become a leader in sustainability issues, but doing so requires ambition, commitment, and alignment across all branches of government, in close collaboration with the private sector and civil society.

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The Malta Chamber's submission draws from the work of its thematic policy committees established last year to tackle sustainability issues. The committees operate as Energy Efficiency & Conservation, Circular Economy and Sustainable Mobility, and create a synergy between them aligned with The Malta Chamber's Economic Vision, which calls for "a smart, sustainable island". To achieve a carbon neutral Malta, The Malta Chamber believes in a more open energy market, within which green producers can sell energy in an open and regulated manner. The collection and availability of data is also crucial to enable increased efficiency. Consumers should be able to read their data in a more open and user-friendly fashion, and companies should likewise be incentivized to monitor energy use within their buildings, to better be able to plan their savings. These measures and more are being put forward by The Malta Chamber to achieve increased national efficiencies, while empowering companies and people alike.

On the subject of transportation, The Malta Chamber is committed to the electrification of the vehicle fleet. This week, the European Union discussed a 2035 cut-off date to begin phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles, to replace petrol and diesel with electric vehicles on our roads. The Malta Chamber believes that the country can be more ambitious and align with the United Kingdom's cutoff date of 2030 to ban the import of diesel and petrol cars. The country must begin preparing in earnest for this drastic change. Charging infrastructure may be coupled with initiatives to shift parking underground. Extensive

training will need to be provided for the repair and maintenance of such vehicles in an authorised fashion. Equity should also be pursued between different modes of transport, and low-emission zones considered to keep the most polluting vehicles out of our town centres to tackle air quality.

As regards waste management, The Malta Chamber takes note of the comments by the National Audit Office in February, warning that even a 500-million-euro investment may go awry if it does not involve the close collaboration of the private sector and other stakeholders. The country should move towards more public-private partnerships. Furthermore, the time has come to give increased importance to reconstituted building materials, with whatever financial mechanisms or commercialisation strategies needed to make such products viable on the market.

Amongst its many other points, The Malta Chamber also believes in the need to make the country climate resilient. Climate change is no longer a question of if - and it is furthermore not even a question of when, given that it is already taking place. It is now a question of how soon the worst impacts will be felt. The Low Carbon

Development Strategy acknowledges the need for climate adaptation but must take a more holistic and realistic approach in acknowledging the very real and damaging economic, environmental and health impacts of the growing crisis. Such realism but be matched with the equivalent strategies on a local and international level alike. On a European level, Malta must champion much-needed actions to make sustainable materials more attractive. Malta must play its role in pushing for legislation that disincentives deforestation abroad. As a microstate and island-nation, Malta has a greater vested interest in preventing the harm caused to us from abroad, and the climate impacts which will be devastating to our economy unless addressed with due care.

The Malta Chamber reiterates its call for "a smart, sustainable island", and looks forward to its continued proactive role in pushing for a stronger economy which delivers on quality of life and contributes value for the private sector, government and society alike.

 

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