Malta

   

Environmental Policies

#32
Key Findings
With challenges shaped by its island geography, Malta scores relatively poorly (rank 32) in the area of environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

The renewable-energy share remains very small, with around 8% of its energy currently derived from renewable sources. In 2020, it will purchase €2 million in renewable energy credits from Estonia in order to meet its targets. It has shown the EU’s second-highest level of CO2 emissions increases in recent years, in part due to strong car use and a growing dependence on air conditioning.

Solar-power projects, an electrical interconnection line with Sicily, a shift to electric cars and a planned gas-fired power station may help reduce emissions. Plastic waste is a serious problem, but free plastic shopping bags are being banned, and single-use plastics phased out. The country suffers from scarce water resources, with the government’s approach to this issue as yet insufficient.

Development is on the rise, and many road-building projects have failed to follow planning procedures. The country is party to a large number of multilateral environmental agreements, but is not a leader in global environmental protection initiatives.

Environment

#35

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
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. Although the country ranks among the top five countries with the least amount of renewable energy per capita, Malta appears to be only two percentage points short of meeting its national target of deriving 10% of its energy from renewable sources. Moreover, the country is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050, apart from working to fulfill its targets within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Presently, Malta continues to show the EU’s second-highest level of CO2 emissions increases. In 2020, the country will purchase €2 million in renewable energy credits from Estonia in order to reach its energy targets, though there has been a slight improvement relative to 2017. The volume of plastic waste in Malta has increased by nearly one-third over the last decade, making the country one of the worst performers in the EU. However, the government has gradually banned the use of free plastic bags in shops, and will be phasing out single-use plastics. Shortcomings are largely a result of the country’s continued high dependence on cars, the growing dependency on air conditioning, and the slow reduction in the island country’s forest and parkland area.

Several initiatives to fulfill these targets have been undertaken. These include the generation of photovoltaic power, the establishment of photovoltaic farms, construction of an interconnected electricity system with Sicily, a shift to the sole use of electric cars paired with a phase-out of fuel-inefficient cars, plans for a more bicycle-friendly road network, the promotion of car-sharing facilities, free public transport access for young people and the construction of a gas-fired power station. A differentiated waste-collection system that had previously been voluntary became mandatory at the end of October 2018.

Fresh water is a scarce resource in Malta. Nonetheless, the government’s approach to this important issue was until recently inconsistent, and in general inadequate to the task of protecting 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.

The Maltese countryside is protected from unsustainable development through a regulatory process of permits and enforcement. Within this context, the Planning Authority recently launched a public consultation process aimed at updating its Rural Policy Design Guidance. EU data highlights the fact that Malta has one of the highest proportions of artificial land cover, coupled with a population density that is among the highest in the EU. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of planning permits granted shot up by 48%. Many government road-building projects have not followed proper planning procedures. In 2010, the government refused to ratify the European convention that would oblige it to protect heritage buildings and respect its threatened landscapes. The Malta Environmental and Planning Authority (MEPA) was restructured and divided into two separate entities (Planning Authority and Environment and Resource Authority) which are respectively responsible for planning and environmental issues. The 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. However, under the new prime minster, responsibility for planning and environmental protection have been placed under the same ministry; time will tell whether they will ultimately be fully merged as under the old model. The new minister for environment and planning intends to log all meetings with stakeholders and lobbyists and publish a transparency register.
A new agency called Ambjent Malta was established in August 2018. Rather than being a regulatory institution, it is intended to bring together all of the country’s environmentally related directorates. Its aim is to improve people’s quality of life and appreciation of the environment. A new underwater cultural heritage unit has also been established. However, the government decision to extend the hours of hunting 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, as did the decision to allow autumn hunting in 2019 despite flagrant abuses. The introduction of a fuel service-station policy deemed to have a negative impact on undeveloped land was meant to be reassessed; however, this process had not taken place by the end of the review period.

Citations:
Commission Staff Working Document – Country Report Malta 2019 SWD (2019) 1017 final p.4
The Malta Independent 14/10/2019 Budget 2020: Environment – Banning of variety of single-use plastic products to begin in 2021
Malta Today 15/02/2018 A new quest for land: Malta’s solar farms set to cover an area as large as 94 football grounds
https://www.southeusummit.com/europe/malta/malta-develops-massive-projects-to- secure-its-energy-future/
The Malta Independent 27/08/2018 Bins for waste separation being distributed to households nationwide
Times of Malta 22/03/2019 ‘We take water for granted’
https://era.org.mt/en/Pages/EIA.aspx
The 2nd Water Catchment Management Plan for the Malta Water Catchment District 2015 – 2021
https://www.energywateragency.gov.mt/news/water-management-framework-malta/
Times of Malta 25/10/2019 PA asks public how it should revise its ODZ policy
https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Land_cover_statistics#Land_cover_in_the_EU_Member_States
Malta Today 28/01/2019 Building mad: Record-breaking 13,000 permits issued by PA
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
Malta’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2012-2020)
https://msdec.gov.mt/en/Ambjent_Malta/Pages/home.aspx
Malta Today 22/03/19 Malta still refuses to ratify European Convention that could protect its threatened landscapes
Times of Malta 26/01/20 Malta must pay Estonia E2 million to reach renewable energy targets

Global Environmental Protection

#27

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, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced 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 contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced 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. Nonetheless, the island fell eight places in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals ranking in 2018.

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 United Nations 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. The Ocean Tracker (an interactive map that follows over €10 billion in commitments made by governments, businesses and NGOs), which was recently launched at the EU level, was one of the commitments made during this conference. However, Malta remains an insignificant, if active, player in global environmental protection.

In October 2019, Malta’s parliament resolved to give greater emphasis to international action on climate change.

Citations:
Times of Malta 12/12/2008 U.N. Secretary-General recalls Malta’s climate change initiative
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30544&Cr=Somali&Cr1=#.W BT4qfl95PY
Newsbook 11/10/2018 Malta falls 8 places in U.N. Sustainable Development Goals ranking
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://ourocean2017.org/
European Commission Press Releases 22/10/2019 EU makes 22 new commitments for clean, healthy and safe oceans and launches The Ocean Tracker
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