Guest Commentary: Government's Proposals For Malta's Environment Sound Promising... But Here's Where It All Gets Confusing
Joseph Muscat and Dr. Herrera's points are good, but their march and their beat are not in sync
I for one am a big critic of Joseph Muscat and his cabinet on a number of topics, be it the way the rule of law is being managed, the deteriorating education system, the unsustainable unplanned construction and the eradication of the greenery on the island just to name a few. However, I do find myself in agreement with a few proposals from time to time.
Being at the forefront of turning the country's automotive use from the combustion engine to electric is indeed the only way forward
Excessive cars on the road are one of the reasons why our air is becoming unbreathable, which in turn causes higher rates of cancer and asthma, therfore a burden on the health sector. One change in our ways impacts many different aspects of our life.
To do so, the right incentives need to be offered to the public, like zero tax paid on new electric cars, better incentives when scrapping combustion engine cars for electric, many more public charging points and also incentives for private charging points. Collaboration with automotive suppliers is also needed, firstly not to inflate prices, and secondly to make sure that the after-sales services offered are capable to handle the change in a sustainable manner.
The conversion has to be gradual and well planned. The right infrastructure has to be put into place before we can just go and change our cars. Malta needs to generate more energy from renewable resources, we need better roads... and we also need to have a mass transportation system which works.
Earlier this week, Dr. Herrera mentioned two very important points
The first being that of turning our waste into a resource. If one reads clearly between the lines the government is steadfast on land reclamation. This in their eyes this will alleviate a problem created from overdevelopment and also generate more land for further development (they say otherwise but we know how they work). Then we have the household waste which is generated, we need to manage our waste better, we need to recycle more and turn waste into renewable energy.
The other point mentioned by Dr. Herrera is that of locating new sites for afforestation. Great! We need more trees, we need more open spaces to breathe clean air, we need more spaces for animals to breed and more spaces for the people to enjoy. And it should not only be in the south either; these spaces should be all over the island and should be numerous.
On a side note, it looks like Gozo has suddenly become a topic of interest for both parties
It tends to come up from time to time, usually just in time for an election.
Now I am not Gozitan and I like Gozo very much, but Gozo and its residents deserve to have more respect from the parties. They are left to the wayside for 2 years then remembered in time of an election... għax niftakkru li għandhom vot.
On paper, what has been mentioned by Joseph Muscat and Dr. Herrera are good, but their march and their beat are not in sync
Actually, they are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum and this is where I find myself questioning their credibility.
If you want to be on the forefront of large scale introduction of electric vehicles, why are you allowing so many more petrol stations? Why are they given thousands of square meters of green areas to build the new petrol stations? Is this a plan so they can be developed once they become obsolete?
If you want to start off with Gozo, why are you pushing for a permanent link between the islands for cars only? Will only those who have electric cars be allowed to go to Gozo by car? How will it impact its economy? Why not push to have a mass transportation system to reduce the number of cars on the roads and linking it to Gozo?
If you want to reclaim land with the waste, why not use it to create new sources of offshore renewable energy plants? Why are you bulldozing through acres and acres of green areas in order to widen roads, rather than using that land for afforestation? And why are you chopping down so many trees to make way for new roads?
As I said earlier, I am one who is very critical of the government and I am seeing this with an open view and mind.
On paper, it all sounds good, but forgive me if I am wary that all this will fall short of its mark.
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Featured Image Aerial Photo by Roberto Benetti (Airliners.net)