Election 2022: missing hegemonic efforts to combat climate change

One wonders, if the exploratory talks started by the Finance Minister with his counterparts in Qatar will ever succeed to convince the latter to invest in our visionary hydrogen project


Both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party have been heavily promoting voter savvy promises during this electoral campaign. The incumbent is gingerly issuing free cheques to all and sundry, including pensioners, on the eve of the election under the pretext that these serve as tax cuts and a way to make up for the COLA supplement not being enough to combat inflation.

An independent candidate challenged this as an abuse and posted a compliant to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s electoral observers.  Dr Arnold Cassola claims that the distribution of the two transfer payments during the week prior to election date is an unabashed disbursement.

All workers and students living in Malta will be receiving a €100 cheque, pensioners and people on social benefits will receive another €200 cheque in a letter signed personally by Prime Minister and Finance Minister.  In all, these freebies amount to about €70 million and will go to push the country debt close to 60% of GDP.

While such acts can be challenged as vote-buying schemes yet the country has been weaned on various tranches of free Covid vouchers issued during the two year pandemic. Economists have criticised the issue of vouchers targeted to a variety of recipients (such as tourists, students attending English speaking schools, divers etc).  They achieved an artificial demand booster.

Prime minister Robert Abela said the initiative is intended to generate economic activity in the very same way the payment of past Covid 19 vouchers boosted the economy.  Other electoral promises include a flurry of un-costed schemes promising digital jobs, improving the environment and ushering a plethora of extended welfare benefits.  All this is salutary and one hopes that the elected party will have the strength and conviction to follow judiciously all promises in their manifest.

Yet, having made such much gargantuan effort to please the electorate, little emphasis was placed to address the climate change.  One may be excused to question how a tiny rock in the Central Mediterranean, can realistically make any recognizable effort to fight global climate change?  The answer is given by the Green Party.

They warned that strategies are urgently needed to mitigate the impact on health, agriculture and other sectors.  Addressing the press, ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo, said the political discourse on climate change has so far concentrated on reducing carbon emissions.

In the meantime, the climate was already changing and it would take time for adaptation measures to have an impact, provided they were implemented.  He stressed on the need for Water Services Corporation to properly harvest rainwater instead of dumping it into the sea, directly or through the public sewers.  It goes without saying that Malta needs to address coastal protection, even in view of the fact that most of our tourism infrastructure lies along the coast.

In view of warmer temperatures, this would also result in a heightened exposure to disease, putting additional strains on our health services.  Such casualties cannot be blinkered by issuing cash vouchers to the electorate.  It is not a panacea for the impending storm.  The Meteorological Office said that only half the average amount of rain was recorded this season.  The causes do not exclude human-induced factors.  One can generalize that a common cause for high emission of greenhouse gases results through human processes such as burning of fossil fuels.

There exists an undeniable fact pointing to the increase in carbon dioxide concentrations and other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide caused by daily activities - mainly due to the explosion in car ownership, more travel by sea and air, not to forget emissions from heavy industry.

The shocking Kremlin invasion of Ukraine in February has prompted an outraged European Union to sharply reduce its dependency on Russian gas and guide members to expand clean energy to compensate.  Italy has taken the bull by the horns and commissioned Renexia to install a vast floating wind farm off the island of Sicily.

Why is Malta dithering?  Reading the electoral manifesto of both major parties there is scant mention about the need for a similar investment offshore.  Little mention was made about the pressing need to convert Electrogas - a controversial generating plant, now run on fossil fuel to convert to green hydrogen, or the slow crawl to electric cars.

Again, only lip service has been paid to install thousands of charging towers along the island.  Why did none of the political leaders point to the potential of exploiting our recently declared Economic Exclusivity Zone to use it to harvest energy on floating sea PV panels and/or wind turbines.  Lacking is the vision to produce green hydrogen using electrolysis based on ample clean energy produced on platforms floated in Hurds’ bank - currently being used free of charge by various foreign fuel tankers as an oil bunkering facility.

One wonders, if the exploratory talks started by the Finance minister with his counterparts in Qatar will ever succeed to convince the latter to invest in our visionary hydrogen project.  Such measures are still pie in the sky but voters and pensioners are smiling this month having received signed letters enclosing two cheques…pennies from heaven.

Back to the issue of climate change, certainly, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the Mediterranean have increased along with the atmospheric distortion which is giving us colder winters and higher humidity in summers.  All lines of evidence make it unambiguous that the increase in carbon dioxide concentrations is human induced and is predominantly a result of fossil fuel burning (aka Electrogas and aircraft).

In conclusion, can we pray for a miracle preferably similar to the one in the Bible recalling how it was impossible for Joshua’s army to attack the massively fortified walls of Jericho yet he succeeded to penetrate the city’s gates with the help of troops shouting and loud blowing of their horns.  The possible we do now, miracles can only be bought by vouchers.

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