Malta

   

Environmental Policies

#30
Key Findings
With challenges defined by its island geography, Malta scores relatively poorly (rank 30) in the area of environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 point relative to 2014.

The renewable-energy share remains very small, at just 5%. The EU has indicated that the country is having difficulties meeting renewable energy, energy efficiency and emissions targets, in part because of the high dependence on cars and the growing dependence on air conditioning. The country is buying Bulgaria’s extra emissions allowances.

Solar-power projects, an electrical interconnection line with Sicily and a planned gas-fired power station may ease this dependence in the future. A new waste-management plant is also in the works. The country suffers from scarce water resources, but a flood-relief plan aimed at collecting more water has helped systematize a previously spotty strategy.

Biodiversity is threatened by development, invasive species and climate change. A policy on this issue aims to halt biodiversity loss by 2020. However, the recent increase in building-permit grants and new policies for hunters will make this goal harder to reach.

Environment

#32

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
4
Malta’s environmental challenges are complicated by large population density, a constant challenge to create employment opportunities, attract foreign investment and improve standards of living. As an EU member state, Malta is bound to fulfill key climate targets within the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Only 5% of Malta’s energy consumption was obtained from renewable energy sources; ongoing efforts are required to ensure that the established national target of 10% is met. An EU report on climate and energy targets indicates that Malta is one of the members states that is experiencing difficulties in staying on track on renewable energy, energy efficiency and emissions not covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. This is largely a result of the continued high dependence on cars, the growing dependency on air conditioning and the slow reduction of the island country’s green lung. Consequently, Malta is buying Bulgaria’s extra emission allowances.

Several initiatives aimed at fulfilling the targets have been undertaken. These include the generation of photovoltaic power, setting up of photovoltaic farms, construction of an interconnected electricity system with Sicily, promotion of fuel-efficient cars and construction of a gas-fired power station. Also, the building of a new waste management plant, projected to cost €150 million, is in the pipeline. New regulations have been introduced to strengthen the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure. The effect of these initiatives will primarily be felt in the future. Also, an assessment of government spending indicates that less is being spent on the environment than in previous years.

Fresh water is a scarce resource in Malta, yet until recently the government’s approach to this important issue was inconsistent and in general inadequate to protect the island country’s water reserves. The production of water for domestic and commercial use is heavily dependent on reverse-osmosis plants. To relieve pressure from reverse-osmosis water generation, a National Flood Relief Project was concluded at the end of 2015 with the aim of increasing the amount of water collected annually. Government re-piping has also reduced loss of water from leaky pipes by 35%, though theft still accounts for a loss of between a 1/5 and 1/4 of total production. Moreover, the 2015-2021 Water Catchment Management Plan for Malta identifies several key measures that need to be implemented if optimal water conservation is to be attained.

The Maltese countryside is protected from unsustainable development through a regulatory process of permits and enforcement. Proposed amendments to the environment impact assessment regulation in order to correct identified and persistent shortcomings have been made. Nonetheless, EU data extracted in 2016 highlighted the fact that Malta (together with Belgium) had the highest proportion of developed areas, coupled with the highest population density among the EU member states. The number of building permits has increased in the last two years, though it has not reached the high of 2007. However, the number of outside development zone (ODZ) permits granted by 5 April 2017 was up 74% over the previous year. The Malta Environmental and Planning Authority (MEPA) has been restructured and is now divided into two separate entities (Planning Authority and Environment and Resource Authority) which are respectively responsible for planning and environmental issues. However, this split and many of the related changes have generated considerable controversy, including increased ministerial powers in the selection of board members, reducing the autonomy and independence of these boards and the strange anomaly that allows a representative of the environmental authority to sit on the planning authority boards only when invited to do so.

The government has introduced various policies to preserve Malta’s biodiversity, as the small island country is home to a “varied and interesting array of habitats and hosts endemic, indigenous, and migratory species,” as stated in the National Environment Policy. Yet Malta’s biodiversity continues to be threatened through land development, invasive species, overexploitation of species and climate change. The policy outlines measures aimed to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020. These include the compiling of a dedicated National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, the creation of additional marine protected areas and strengthening the management of existing protected areas. However, a recent decision to extend the hours for hunters to 12:00 in the Majjistral Nature and History Park, Malta’s first national park, against the unanimous objection of the advisory board undermines these policies. Also, the introduction of a fuel service station policy deemed to be negatively impacting virgin land is now being reassessed.

Citations:
https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-policy-coordination/eu-economic-governance-monitoring-prevention-correction/european-semester/european-semester-your-country/malta/europe-2020-targets-statistics-and-indicators-malta_en
Times of Malta 14/03/2017 Malta with lowest share of renewables among EU countries
Trends and projections in Europe 2016 - Tracking progress toward Europe’s climate and energy targets p.11
The Malta Independent 06/11/2013 Most families to get 30% reduction in utility bills
Times of Malta 19/06/2014 Electricity tariff reduction will save businesses €50m
Commission Staff Working Document - Country Report Malta 2017 SWD (2017) 83 final p.31
Times of Malta 31/12/2015 Work on national flood relief project concluded
The 2nd Water Catchment Management Plan for the Malta Water Catchment District 2015 - 2021
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Land_cover,_land_use_and_landscape
TVM 04/04/2016 Split of MEPA into two independent authorities comes into effect
Times of Malta 12/07/2015 MEPA split: ‘We’re all in for a rough ride’
National Environment Policy 2012 p.76-77
Times of Malta 03/12/16 Renewable energy in Malta
Consultation session on proposed Revision of EIA Regulations http://www.meusac.gov.mt/newsdetails?ns=2386
Malta’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2012-2020)
Times of Malta 29/11/17 Heavy Traffic is stalling targets on emissions.
Times of Malta 03/12/17 Emission Impossible? Malta pays for Bulgarian Energy
Times of Malta 16/08/17 Leaky Pipes would fill 1,600 pools each year
Times of Malta 30/03/17 Residential building permits rose by over a third in 2015
Eurostat figures -Malt building permits 2017 - http://sdw.ecb.europa.eu/quickview.do;jsessionid=E257B5C9E05E3D7B517912DB6B2D0DB4?SERIES_KEY=132.STS.M.MT.S.BPER.CC1109.4.000
Malta Today 12/04/17 ODZ Permits already up by over 74% over last year
Whichever way you measure it government spending is less green than ever Times of Malta 30/01/18

Global Environmental Protection

#30

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
6
Malta’s small size has traditionally hindered it from being a key player in international global policy forums. Nonetheless, since independence, it has been influential in the Law of the Sea and was instrumental in the adoption of the Protection of Global Climate for Present and Future Generations of Mankind resolution, which gave rise to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol in 1988. Moreover, Malta has played a dynamic role in efforts to meet climate resolutions agreed to in Copenhagen in 2009 with former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describing Malta as a key player in the efforts to “seal the deal.”

Malta is party to a large number of multilateral environment agreements. As an EU member state, Malta is bound by the obligations of the EU’s extensive environmental acquis. When Malta joined the European Union, it adopted some 200 environmental laws, which are now part of the overall Maltese legal framework. Malta has attempted to play a part in formulating a Mediterranean strategy for sustainable development.

In the run-up to the Paris Summit on Climate Change, Malta’s prime minister hosted a special session on Climate for Leaders during the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta. More than a quarter of the 2015 CHOGM participants attended the Paris Summit and the 2015 CHOGM was used as a forum within which support was consolidated. In 2016, Malta became one of the first countries to complete domestic preparations for the ratification of the Paris Agreement and subsequently deposited its Instrument of Ratification to the UN together with other EU member states.

In October 2017, Malta hosted the EU’s Our Ocean Conference. The conference led to the adoption of 437 tangible and measurable commitments, among other deliverables. Nonetheless, Malta remains an insignificant, if active, player in global environmental protection.

Citations:
Times of Malta 12/12/2008 UN Secretary General recalls Malta’s climate change initiative
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30544&Cr=Somali&Cr1=#.W BT4qfl95PY
The Art of Doing Much with Little (MEPA News Article)
The Malta Independent 07/09/2015 CHOGM 2015 to give final push to Paris climate change Summit – Environment Minister
The Malta Independent 30/09/2016 Malta among first countries to finalize preparations for ratification of Paris Agreement
http://foreignaffairs.gov.mt/en/Government/Embassy%20Press%20Releases /Pages/Instrument-of-Ratification-declaring-that-the-Government-of-Malta-has-rat ified-the-Paris-Agreement-on-Climate-Change-of-Dec.aspx Environment and development in the Mediterranean planbleu.org
http://ourocean2017.org/
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