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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Malta / Climate change mitigation - Drivers and pressures (Malta)

Climate change mitigation - Drivers and pressures (Malta)

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SOER Common environmental theme from Malta - Climate Change Mitigation - Drivers and Pressures
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Drivers for climate change mitigation

The key drivers of GHG emissions are socio-economic: demography, economic development, transport, etc. Malta’s 2008 Environment Report (www.mepa.org.mt/ter08-drivingforces) indicates that, while Malta’s population has largely met its basic material needs, the population continues to place unsustainable demands on the environment, putting strains on natural resources and processes. It also notes that the number of vacant properties on the Islands has continued to rise, with 22.4 % of all dwellings lying permanently vacant in 2005. Urgent measures, including economic instruments and reorientation of the construction industry towards rehabilitation, are needed to address this issue in ways that do not place undue pressures on affordability and availability of housing, and take into account social and economic implications.

The 2008 Environment Report also states that tourism is an important economic sector in terms of GDP, but that it puts significant pressure on the environment due to additional consumption of resources, increase in waste generation and land take for tourism infrastructure. The report suggests that the industry will need to focus on ensuring a quality product that prevents undue pressure on Malta’s natural resources such as by spreading tourism intake more evenly throughout the year, and penetrating those niche markets that are generally more sensitive and supportive towards conservation.

Importantly for this topic, the Report notes that Malta’s environmental targets and objectives related to air pollution and climate change can only be met by decoupling its growing total energy demand from economic growth.

The Islands remain far from reaching EU renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. In order to reach these targets, Malta will need to reduce consumption and develop widespread use of alternative technologies. Malta’s continued rise in vehicle numbers is a matter of concern due to the environmental and social impacts of private motor vehicle use. The high percentage of imports of older and more polluting second-hand vehicles is also of concern. There is an urgent need to renew Malta’s car fleet with smaller and more efficient vehicles and to make public transport alternatives at least as reliable and attractive as private car use.

Although it is small in terms of employment and contribution to GDP, the agriculture sector is a major environmental player. Agricultural practices may have serious impacts in terms of pollution on the countryside. However good farming practices can positively influence countryside and landscape quality, and sustain key environmental resources such as biodiversity, soil and water.

 

Malta’s GHG emissions are low when compared to those of other EU Member States, reflecting the small size of the country in geographic, demographic and economic terms.[1] Total GHG emissions increased by 49 % between 1990 and 2007. The flattening observed in Chart 3.4 could be the switch from coal for energy generation. The energy sector (including the energy industry, and transport and fuel combustion in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors) is the principal contributor (89 %[2] of total emissions in 2007) to Malta’s GHG emissions. While in 1990, emissions from energy stood at 1,855 Gigagrams (Gg), by 2000 they had reached 2,328 Gg, to increase to 2,692 Gg in 2007. The second most significant contributor to Malta’s GHG emissions in 2007 was the waste sector (6.6 % of overall emissions).[3] The contribution of agriculture and industrial processes is limited, both contributing approximately 2 %[4] of total emissions in 2007, while solvents and other product use contributed 0.09 % of total emissions. The category Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LUFLUF) indicates estimates of carbon dioxide emissions and removals by particular vegetation types. This sector is estimated to contribute a removal of 2 % of Malta’s emissions, with a mean figure of -58.2 Gg CO2 sequestered annually between 1990 and 2007.[5]

In terms of emissions per unit GDP (in billion euro at 2000 prices), there was an overall decrease of 18 % between 1990 and 2007 falling from approximately 812 to 662 thousand tonnes per billion euro respectively. The decrease in GHG emissions per unit GDP may possibly reflect a degree of decoupling of emissions from economic development over the whole time period, although there are significant fluctuations when comparing shorter time ranges (for example between 2000 and 2005, when the trend was increasing).[6] With respect to per capita emissions, these grew by 33 % between 1990 and 2007, from approximately 5.47 tonnes per capita to 7.25 tonnes per capita respectively, although this trend seems to be stabilising over recent years.[7] At the EU level, ten Member States reported increasing per capita emissions between 1990 and 2006.[8] Despite this increase, Malta still had a relatively low GHG emission rate per capita in 2006 when compared to the EU-27 average, which in that year stood at 10.4 tonnes per capita.[9] 

 Fuel imports

 

Source: NSO; NSO (National Statistics Office). 2006. Gross Domestic Product: Q3/2006. News Release No. 277/2006, 7 December 2006; NSO (National Statistics Office). 2008. Gross Domestic Product for 2007. News Release No. 39/2008, 10  March 2008; NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Gross Domestic Product for 2008. News Release No. 40/2008, 10  March 2009.

Chart 3.5: Fuel imports, GDP at 2000 prices and energy intensity of the economy as a percentage of the base year 2000 (2000–2008)

 

It is pertinent in this context to examine changes to the energy intensity of the economy, which is a measure of the energy Malta uses to create a unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This indicator is calculated on the basis of a ratio between total energy produced and GDP.[10] Total energy produced in the Maltese Islands can be estimated using net fossil fuel import values.[11] The overall trend since 2000 has been for the energy intensity of the economy to decrease slightly; should this trend continue, it may point towards a shift towards a relative[12] decoupling of energy consumption from economic activity. There is an urgent need to achieve an absolute decoupling of economic activity from energy use in the Maltese Islands.



[1]               MEPA (Malta Environment & Planning Authority). 2009. National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report for Malta 1990 – 2007, March 2009, MEPA, Floriana.

[2]               As calculated in terms of CO2 equivalents for CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs and SF6 ‘without’ Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LUFLUF).

[3]               As calculated in terms of CO2 equivalents ‘without’ Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LUFLUF).

[4]               As calculated in terms of CO2 equivalents ‘without’ LUFLUF.

[5]           MEPA (Malta Environment & Planning Authority). 2009. National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report for Malta 1990 – 2007, March 2009, MEPA, Floriana.

[6]               MEPA (Malta Environment &  Planning Authority). 2009. National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report for Malta 1990 – 2007,  March 2009, MEPA, Floriana.

[7]               MEPA (Malta Environment &  Planning Authority). 2009. National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report for Malta 1990 – 2007,  March 2009, MEPA, Floriana..

[8]               EEA (European Environment Agency). 2008. Greenhouse Gas Emission Trends and Projections in Europe 2008: Tracking progress towards Kyoto targets,  EEA Report No. 5/2008, EEA, Copenhagen.

[9]               EEA (European Environment Agency). 2008. Greenhouse Gas Emission Trends and Projections in Europe 2008: Tracking progress towards Kyoto targets,  EEA Report No. 5/2008, EEA, Copenhagen.

[10]             EEA (European Environment Agency). 2005. The European Environment: State and Outlook 2005, EEA, Copenhagen.

[11]             In Malta almost all energy is generated from imported fossil fuels.  Amounts used are net of bunkering but include Jet-A1 and aviation gasoline.

[12]             Relative decoupling occurs when environmental damage increases at a slower rate than GDP, while absolute decoupling occurs when environmental damage decreases while GDP increases.

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