The Maltese Government has defended their decision to oppose a provisional deal on binding national emissions targets for sectors such as agriculture, transport, buildings and waste management, which fall outside the scope of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) for the period 2021-2030; pointing towards the economic implications the deal would have on the country.
For the sake of "national interest", the Ministry for Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate explained, as had been believed, that "Malta is in disagreement with the mechanism proposed to calculate the contribution of individual Member States, as it is not consonant with the actual contribution of each Member State, nor with its mitigation potential thus creating disparity."
"The GDP basis adopted for the allocation of targets puts Malta at a disadvantage, this despite being one of the lowest emitters in absolute and on a per capita basis."
Pointing towards Malta's record, the Ministry said that the country's total greenhouse gas emissions, in absolute terms, are the lowest in the European Union and also one of the lowest on a per capita basis.
"In turn, our small size imposes serious limitations on our realistic mitigation potential not least due to economies of scale and the threat to sustained economic growth.
"Unlike some other countries, our economy is service-based and therefore the generated emission levels are not as high as of primary and industrial based economies."
Last Friday, the newsroom revealed that Malta was one of two member states, the other being Lithuania, who indicated their intention to oppose the deal which covers sectors that account for around 60% of EU emissions, and is key for the EU to fulfil its Paris climate deal commitment of a reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
Another two member states, Poland and Latvia abstained.
"It is to be noted that, in the spirit of compromise, Malta had accepted the general approach voted upon in the October 2017 Environment Council, where we had managed to secure additional emission allowances that, even at that point in time were still considered not to be sufficient," the Ministry said.
"The consequences of more ambitious legally binding national targets on emission reductions are borne by society and need to be responded to. Not achieving them does not compromise our environment or human health but ensures that we develop in a sustainable manner maximising economic, social and environmental goals."
The Ministry went on to explain that the positive impact would have negatively affected transportation, heating and cooling mechanisms, and the management of waste; and that action concerning the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has already been taken with the implementation of national sectoral strategies.
"However the geographic and climatic conditions of Malta do not necessarily permit multiple arrays of options for modal shifts to reduce carbon emissions from such sectors as expected."
The deal was still approved by EU Ambassadors and is subject to final approval by the Parliament and subsequent formal adoption by the Council, the legislative act will be published in the Official Journal of the EU and enter into force twenty days following its publication.