MaltaToday previous editions

MALTATODAY 15 August 2021

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 47

3 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 15 AUGUST 2021 NEWS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 But a spokesperson for the Met Office said for the Mal- tese islands, it may be the case that extreme weather manifests itself in drier and hotter sum- mers, while other seasons may remain stable, which is how the slight change in the minimum temperature could be explained. The lasting effects of rising sea temperatures have a serious impact on local marine life, es- pecially for cold-water species. For these creatures, the present sea temperature is already at the warm end of what they can tolerate, so any increase in tem- perature would make it consid- erably more difficult for them to survive. On the other hand, species better suited to warmer waters will likely thrive as the sea gets warmer, with marine communi- ties in Malta starting to resem- ble those in the south-eastern Mediterranean. "If temperatures on the land are increasing, the sea surface temperatures will reflect this increase too, albeit at a slower process due to a higher specif- ic heat capacity," a Met Office spokesperson told MaltaToday. "For a more balanced argu- ment, one should not exclude other circumstances and events that may have an impact the climate, as has happened in the past, such as orbital changes and wobbles causing temporary ice-ages." IPCC 'red zone' warning James Ciarlò, a researcher at the Climate Research Group in the University of Malta's Ge- osciences department, has al- ready documented how Malta's climate and seasonal cycle have already been disturbed. In 2017, Ciarlò warned that Malta would continue to expe- rience more frequent, longer and more intense heatwaves in the coming years as a result of these disruptions. This summer has so far of- fered credence to this warning. Last week Malta headed into its third heatwave of the sea- son, with the Santa Marija week characterised by temperatures that felt like 41°C. The global climate crisis this week returned to its deserved, if neglected, spot on the world agenda after the United Na- tions' climate agency, the IPCC, released a damning report that painted a bleak picture for the world unless deep cuts in global carbon emissions are undertak- en. The IPCC report states with- out doubt that human activity has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Each of the last four decades has been succes- sively warmer than any decade that preceded it since 1850. The report attributed well- mixed Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) as the main driver of tropospheric warming since 1979, contributing to a warm- ing of 1°C to 2°C. The IPCC said it is "virtually certain" that the global upper ocean has warmed since the 1970s, due to human influence and human-caused carbon di- oxide emissions driving global acidification of the surface open ocean. The IPCC warned that the land surface will continue to warm at a faster pace than the ocean surface, with the Arctic expected to warm more than the global surface temperature. EU 55% emissions target The European Union's Eu- ropean Green Deal pledges to fight climate change by decou- pling economic growth from re- source use, and ensuring no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. The Green Deal's Fit For 55% package includes reforms on re- newables and energy taxation, including a Carbon Border Ad- justment Mechanism, and an Energy Tax Directive. One of these laws incentivises clean energy for the transport sector, but includes taxing ker- osene for aviation and maritime sectors over the next decade. Yet the Maltese business lob- by in Brussels, which represents the Chamber of Commerce and hoteliers' lobby MHRA, has warned that these rules could negatively impact seafaring na- tions like Malta, which is entire- ly dependent on these two sec- tors for cargo trade and tourism activity. Enterprise and energy minis- ter Miriam Dalli said the gov- ernment will be making its case for special consideration in the EU's Green Deal, to safeguard certain crucial industries. And as many Mediterranean regions experienced major wild- fires due to increased drought and heatwaves, Dalli last week defended the government's po- sition to seek special status in EU talks. She said an interna- tional agreement was needed in order to address climate change while ensuring a level economic playing-field, but warned that any kerosene tax would have an upward effect on prices. Yet it is instances like these that appeal to betray Malta's fear of tackling climate change forcefully enough. A 2020 working document drafted by the European Com- mission offered a review of Mal- ta's national energy and climate plan, but commented that it was unambitious with its renewable energy targets, while setting high-level objectives on energy security – a more politically fa- vourable area for Maltese gov- ernments. In its plan, Malta put forward an 11.5% target share of renew- able energy in gross final energy consumption. The Commission not only dubbed this unambi- tious, but added that it is below the minimum share of 21%. Several NGOs noted this in their submissions to the con- sultation, remarking on a reluc- tance in some areas to imple- ment comprehensive change. They even noticed a lack of em- phasis on short term solutions in energy, construction and ag- ricultural sectors, as well as an "over-reliance on vague future technologies". Carbon-neutral targets Green party ADPD yesterday called for all new property de- velopment to be self-sufficient and therefore carbon neutral. Chairperson Carmel Cacopar- do said that it was not enough that developers make up for their development with solar farms, but said self-sufficient energy should be generated on the spot. He said solar water heaters and photovoltaic cells should also come into effect when one renovates a building. "Whoever refuses to comply, should not be allowed to carry out with the development," Cacopardo said. He also called for a national strategy for transport, as recent studies had shown that 50% of trips by private cars take less than 15 minutes. "We should be incentivising the public to use less cars and that is the rea- son why we spoke against the numerous road projects, which encourage people to keep using their car," he said. Yearly mean air temperatures 1923-2020 Yearly mean sea temperature 1978-2020 Worrying rise in sea surface temperature

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of MaltaToday previous editions - MALTATODAY 15 August 2021