The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

'Gozo climate neutral by 2030... yes we can if we go beyond the buzzwords' – Peter Agius

Friday, 29 April 2022, 11:53 Last update: about 17 days ago

The European Commission has just published the list of 100 cities to become climate neutral by 2030, PN spokesperson and MEP Candidate Peter Agius has said.

"Among cities like Rome, Madrid and Paris, Gozo is also within the EU's ambitious target."

"This is an opportunity to create quality jobs, boost innovation, tap EU funds and drive forward the green and digital transition," he said, the European Commission's announcement.

"Some 377 cities applied from across Europe with small member states such as Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus each receiving one post. Cities chosen include Rome, Paris, Madrid and Munich."

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Peter Agius said that Gozo had already been earmarked to become an eco-island in the past, "but earlier efforts were side-lined to make space for rampant development without a clear plan or vision for Gozo." While welcoming Gozo's inclusion in the Climate Neutral Cities target, Agius stressed the need to muster all the political commitment and bring stakeholders together to ensure the trust of the local communities for the target to be reached.

"We need concrete actions and new initiatives that bring about change and for this not to be a public relations exercise. We have to go beyond buzzwords. Six solar-powered buses - an investment of € 2.5 million - remained abandoned in a scrapyard in Xagħra, Gozo for years. After all our pressure these solar buses are now being used for the park and ride."

"The government needs to make sure that when it comes to climate change, it moves beyond jargon and walks the talk. We want to start from Gozo by involving all the actors of the Gozitan economy. There are many different ways how to improve energy efficiency being deployed in the continent. Little to no effort is being employed in Malta and Gozo to catch up with the times on this. We have supposedely implemented a European Directive on energy efficiency in buildings but keep building storeys of apartments with the usual brick. We have a serious animal waste problem but fail to invest in biomass energy plants and fertiliser conversion plants as they do in Italy, the Netherlands and several other places in the EU also by using EU funding. Gozo's vocation to become climate netutral by 2030 can now be the catalyst for change in all these areas." said Agius

The retrofitting of public buildings to become energy efficient, upgrading local public transport, ensuring clean mobility through electric vehicles and bikes, increasing green areas in urban areas, while ensuring that ODZs remain untouched and incentivising the private sector to invest in sustainable solutions are some of the key aspects that need to be tackled for climate neutrality to be achieved, he said

"The 'Cities Mission', together with four other EU missions, cover global challenges in the areas of adaptation to climate change, these being restoring our ocean and waters, healthy soils and fighting cancer. The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 - an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU's commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement."


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