Malta’s Parliament should declare a climate emergency and tackle the oft-ignored problem of air pollution generated by cruise ships, the Nationalist Party has formally proposed.
In a motion that Parliament will discuss next week, the PN said that every country in the world has its own part to play in tackling climate change and that Malta should follow the likes of Ireland and the UK in officially declaring it as a national emergency.
Malta has repeatedly fallen short of its EU air pollution targets and the worst culprit in this regard the cruise line industry. A study by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union shows that Europe’s worst-polluting cruise ships will make no fewer than 122 port-calls to the island in 2019.
These include ships without SCRCatalytic Systems or particulate filters to reduce air pollution and ships that use Heavy Fuel Oil.
“With the will, commitment and a long-term plan, this can be addressed so as to reduce air pollution and safeguard this main industry for Malta,” the PN’s motion reads.
“It’s a scientific fact that pollution generated by cruise ships in our ports is around 148 times higher than the pollution generated by all the vehicles in our streets, so much so that the air pollution at the Grand Harbour alone is estimated to be ten times higher than the most traffic-heavy street in Malta.”
“It is estimated that 283,000 vehicles generate 3.4 tonnes of sulphur oxides, while 83 cruise liners which visited Malta last year generated 502.8 tonnes.”
“Air pollution in Malta is estimated by the EU to cost over €182 million in healthcare costs (around €2 million on asthma treatment alone) and 44,000 days of lost work due to avoidable respiratory diseases.”
“The cost isn’t only financial though but also related to our quality of life, so much so that more people are dying in Malta due to air pollution than due to smoking, with around five deaths a week caused by respiratory illnesses or its complications.”
“It’s in Malta’s national interest to join other countries in decelerating a climate emergency and take the necessary steps. The cost of doing nothing is so much higher than the cost of the investment we must carry out to reach the EC’s targets, which will improve our quality of life.”
The PN proposed the establishment of a permanent parliamentary committee for the climate emergency, which would be composed of three government MPs and two Opposition MPs. The committee would have the power to nominate a person of repute to the new role of Superintendent of Climate Change. The Superintendent will be entrusted to ensuring Malta reaches climate change targets, which Parliament would set for 2030 and 2050.
The committee will also be able to take climate change initiatives, publish reports following legal, technical and scientific advice, invite and welcome civil society to meetings and propose action to the House of Representatives.
“It is in the national interest for Malta to join other nations in declaring a climate emergency and take necessary steps afterwards,” the report reads. “The cost of doing nothing is so much higher than the cost of the investment we must carry out to reach the European Commission’s targets, which will improve our quality of life.”
The motion was filed by PN MPs Jason Azzopardi, David Agius, Robert Cutajar and Frederick Azzopardi.