Lil hinn mill-ġebla u l-kaċċa

 

Illum l-ambjent sar parti essenzjali mil-lingwaġġ politiku li jużaw il-partiti politiċi ta’ kuljum. Imma jekk dan hux kaz ta’ konvinzjoni jew konvenjenza, hu storja oħra.

L-ippjanar bl-addoċċ tal-użu tal-art tul is-snin flimkien mal-kaċċa irresponsabbli u insostenibbli kienu fuq quddiem fl-agenda ambjentali għal ftit taż-żmien mhux ħażin. Ġa ktibt b’mod estensiv dwar dan. Il-ħarsien tal-ambjent iżda, jfisser ħafna iktar minn hekk, avolja fiċ-ċirkustanzi partikolari ta’ pajjiżna kemm l-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art kif ukoll il-kaċċa ser jibqgħu fuq nett fl-aġenda ambjentali.

Żewġ oqsma li bla dubju ser ikunu fuq quddiem nett fl-aġenda ambjentali tal-pajjiż fix-xhur u s-snin li ġejjin huma l-kwalitá tal-arja u l-iskart li niġġeneraw.   Materji li ilna nitkellmu dwarhom is-snin bħala oqsma kruċjali li għandhom impatt fuq il-kwalitá tal-ħajja.

Il-kwalitá tal-arja f’pajjiżna hi effettwata prinċipalment mill-emmissjonijiet tal-karozzi. Teħtieġ li tkun indirizzata permezz  ta’ strateġija nazzjonali dwar it-trasport li tinkoraġixxi forom alternattivi ta’ aċċess sostenibbli bejn l-ibliet u l-irħula tagħna.

Il-metro li qed tiġi proposta ta’ min jikkunsidraha minkejja li s’issa għad ma hemmx dettalji biżżejjed dwar il-proposta nnifisha. Din il-proposta tal-metro, għandu jkun sottolinejat, tista’ tagħmel sens biss jekk tkun marbuta ma azzjoni simultanja li l-ewwel tnaqqas il-karozzi mit-toroq b’mod sostanzjali u li sussegwentement tassigura li fit-toroq tagħna jkun hemm biss karozzi li jaħdmu bl-elettriku.

Ma jagħmilx sens li tipproponi l-introduzzjoni ta’ metro u fl-istess ħin tibqa’ għaddej bi programm ta’ bini ta’ flyovers jew twessigħ ta’ toroq għax programm ta’ din ix-xorta filwaqt li jnaqqas il-konġestjoni tat-traffiku b’mod temporanju jżid il-kapaċitá tal-istess toroq li jieħdu iktar traffiku u dan minn innifsu jwassal għal iktar konġestjoni tat-traffiku.

L-użu ikbar tar-rota tradizzjonali kif ukoll tal-pedelecs ukoll jagħti kontribut sostanzjali għal iktar mobilitá u anke għal kwalitá tal-ħajja aħjar. Imma dan jeħtieġ investiment sostanzjali fl-infrastruttura. Dan jinkludi mhux biss toroq aħjar għal dawk li jużaw ir-rota imma ukoll faċilitajiet ta’ showers fil-post tax-xogħol flimkien ma postijiet addattati fejn titqiegħed ir-rota fiż-żoni riżervati għall-parkeġġ.

Il-mezzi differenti ta’ trasport pubbliku għandhom ikunu imħeġġa biex jagħmlu użu minn sorsi nodfa ta’ enerġija. Dan jista’ jsir billi, pereżempju l-karozzi tal-linja eżistenti jkunu konvertiti biex jaħdmu bil-metan.

L-iskart li niġġeneraw huwa wġiegħ ta’ ras ambjentali kbira li fl-aħħar qed jingħata iktar attenzjoni. Presentement qed ikun indirizzat l-iskart organiku ġġenerat mill-qasam domestiku. Jekk dan l-iskop jintlaħaq dan jista’ jagħti riżultati tajbin għax l-iskart organiku jammonta għal madwar nofs l-iskart li niġġeneraw mid-djar tagħna. Imma hemm ħtieġa urġenti ukoll li l-awtoritajiet tat-turiżmu jiffukaw ftit attenzjoni fuq l-iskart organiku li jiġġeneraw ir-restoranti u faċilitajiet simili għax dan il-qasam kien traskurat għal ftit taż-żmien mhux ħażin.

Il-qasam tal-iskart jista’ jiġġenera ħafna impiegi ambjentali (green jobs) f’industrija tar-riċiklaġġ li għad tista’ tikber għax għandha potenzjal kbir. Din hi problema li kibret magħna tul is-snin minħabba traskuraġni: nistgħu bi ftit attenzjoni nittrasformawha f’opportunitá li mhux biss tissarraf fi kwalitá tal-ħajja aħjar imma ukoll f’ġid ekonomiku.

ippubblikat fl-Illum  – 28 ta’ Mejju 2017

Green and clean :  beyond land use planning and hunting

It is obvious to everyone that the environment is nowadays an integral part of the political lexicon of all the political parties in Malta. Whether this is out of conviction or out of convenience is,  however, another story altogether. Irrespective of the objective, it is still however positive to observe this development.

Reckless land use planning over the years, as well as irresponsible and unsustainable hunting, have been at the forefront of the environmental agenda for quite some time and I have already written extensively on these topics. Caring for the environment signifies much more than this, even though both land use planning and hunting will, of necessity remain at the top of Malta’s environmental agenda.

However, competing for attention and resources, the quality of the air we breath – as well as the waste we generate – are two specific areas which will undoubtedly be on the environmental action agenda in the months and years ahead. These are areas which the environmental lobby has been emphasising for years on end as being crucial in determining a better quality of life for all.

Air quality has to be tackled head on through the formulation of a transport strategy that seeks to encourage alternative forms of sustainable access between our towns and villages. This will most probably be a combination of various means and actions.

The proposed metro is an option worth considering, even though details are currently not available. The metro will only be feasible if it is linked with focused action on reducing the number of cars from the road and ensuring that all remaining cars on the road, after a reasonable transition, are electric cars. It is useless promoting a metro and simultaneously retaining a substantial programme of road-widening and/or construction of flyovers. Improving the road network will only ease traffic congestion temporarily but it will simultaneously increase the capacity for more traffic leading in turn to more traffic congestion.

Encouraging the use of bicycles and pedelecs will contribute substantially to improved mobility and a better quality of life, including ever-improving air quality. Substantial investment in the bicycle infrastructure  is however required. This must include the provision of more bicycle friendly roads and shower facilities at places of work as an essential pre-requisite, together with more bicycle parking areas.

Different forms of public transport using clean energy should also be encouraged – for example, converting existing public buses to the use of methane as their primary fuel.

Waste management is another environmental headache, and which has, of late, been receiving more attention. An effort is currently under way to address the organic fraction of the household waste generated. If properly managed this could lead to substantial results as organic waste accounts for around 50 per cent of all the household waste generated. The tourism authorities must, however, seek to focus on the organic waste generated by bars and restaurants as MTA has neglected this matter for far to long.

Proper waste management can result in the generation of green jobs in the recycling industry – which is still in its infancy but holds a lot of potential.  It is an opportunity to transform a problem caused by neglect over the years  into an opportunity which will be both green and clean.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 28 May 2017

Waste Management politics

scrapyard

“We encourage waste separation in localities. However we recognise that this is not enough. As a country we still lag behind and have failed to reach targets on packaging waste as well as waste generated by electrical and electronic equipment.

It is essential to address the operation of scrapyards. These process waste which is subject to at least three Directives of the EU, namely the WEEE Directive, the End of Life Vehicles Directive and the Batteries Directive. The manner in which scrapyards have been permitted to operate signifies a total disregard of the principles and safeguards listed in the said Directives. The fact that after more than eight years of EU membership we are still discussing these issues signifies the low level of preparedness to shoulder environmental responsibilities resulting from EU adhesion.” (AD’s Electoral Manifesto, pages 89-90, March 2013)

The existence of operational scrapyards is an affront to Malta’s environmental obligations.

In scrapyards one finds discarded vehicles and other objects made primarily of metal  beyond their useful life. There are a number of operational scrapyards in various areas in Malta.  A major one was closed by MEPA some years back in Birżebbuġa. This is now in the process of reopening as an up to standard End of Life Vehicle facility based in Ħal-Far. The relative planning and environmental applications have been processed by MEPA and Malta Enterprise and the facility should be operational in the not too distant future.  There are other scrapyards (large and small) in various parts of the island. They are mostly an eyesore, generally a blot on the landscape as well as being the cause of negative environmental impacts.

Recycling scrap metal (and other materials) is an important economic activity which ensures that resources originally  extracted from the earth are kept in use and not discarded as waste. Recycling activity if properly managed is an important economic activity which is environmentally friendly. Employment created in this type of activity is an important source of green jobs.

Vehicles and equipment beyond its useful life cannot be disposed of haphazardly. Three specific EU Directives,  namely the End of Life Vehicle Directive (ELV), the Batteries Directive and the Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) establish  the responsibilities of EU member states to regulate in detail these specific waste streams.  The objective is to recover metals and other materials which would otherwise go to waste. Their recovery should however be carried out in an environmental friendly manner.

Each and every part of a vehicle or a piece of equipment should be dismantled with particular care being given to the collection of fluids and gases. No such care is afforded in scrapyards.

Similarly it is to be pointed out that the electric and electronic waste directive (WEEE) is not being properly implemented in Malta. This is due to the fact that there is a conflict between the responsibilities spelt out in the Directive and the eco-contribution charged in Malta on electric, electronic and white goods.

The WEEE Directive spells out and applies the responsibility of producers for disposing of the electric and electornic waste generated by their products. It does so to encourage producers to put on the market products which are easily recoverable and which can be recycled without much difficulty and expense. The recovery from consumers of electric/electronic products and white goods beyond their useful life can be carried out an at expense which in terms of the WEEE Directive is to be added to the purchase price. But the situation in Malta is such that the cost of processing the waste generated by electric/electronic products and white goods is already quantified as an eco-contribution. This was fairplay when there was no WEEE Directve in operation. But now producers would have to pay twice for the same service. They pay an eco-contribution on placing the product on the market and then they must pay once more to honour their WEEE committments.

In view of the above the WEEE Directive has not yet been properly implemented in Malta.

It is about time that we get our house in order. The politics of waste is a very important matter which has not yet been given sufficient thought.  Except that is for the siting of waste management faciltiies, which seems to be the only waste issue which has interested the public in recent years.

The Issues Paper published recently by Minister Leo Brincat makes scant reference to the above. Maybe this is because it is a preliminary document preceeeding the actual Waste Management Plan for 2014-20.

A structured discussion on waste policy will certainly be of help. Having a multitiude of public consultation exercises by the different Ministries launched during the summer period is not  good practice. It is an old trick played by those who want to  nominally honour their obligations to consult.  Hopefully when the actual draft Waste Management  Plan 2014-20 is available for consultation we will have ample time to discuss.

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday August 31, 2013

Il-bidla tal-klima u l-ħolqien tax-xogħol: x’relazzjoni?

illum 

 minn Carmel Cacopardo

ippubblikat 30 ta’ Novembru 2008

Dan kien is-sustanza tal-indirizz tal-kelliem fis-seminar organizzat mill-UĦM nhar il-25 ta’ Novembru 2008

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Kull union tagħti prijorità lill-kundizzjonijiet tax-xogħol tal-membri tagħha. Union ġenerali bħall-UĦM għandha l-possibiltà u r-riżorsi li tifrex il-ħarsa tagħha b’mod iktar wiesa’.
Il-Unions kienu fost tal-ewwel li fehmu u ħadmu biex ħaddieħor jifhem illi l-politika ekonomika ma tistax tħares biss lejn il-profitt materjali iżda trid kontinwament tiffoka fuq l-impatti soċjali.
Illum diversi qed jirrealizzaw li aħna ma ngħixux f’ekonomija. Ngħixu f’eko-sistema. Ma nillimitawx rwieħna iżjed għall-effett fuq il-bniedem iżda nikkunsidraw ukoll il-flora u l-fawna tal-viċin u tal-bogħod.
Meta nagħmlu hekk inkunu qed nassiguraw li nħarsu lil hinn minn imneħirna. B’hekk inkunu qed nassiguraw li filwaqt li aħna illum kellna l-opportunità li nieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet meħieġa għall-progress fi żmienna fl-istess ħin inħallu l-possibilità li dawk li għadhom ma twildux meta jiġi l-waqt ikunu huma wkoll jistgħu jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet tagħhom. Dan hu l-bażi ta’ politika dwar l-iżvilupp sostenibbli u l-pedament ta’ ekonomija ġdida, ekonomija ekoloġika.
Il-politika dwar il-klima nipproponi li nħarsu lejha b’dan il-mod.
Illum hawn preokkupazzjoni dwar il-bdil fil-klima. Din il-preokkupazzjoni hi mnissla mill-fatt li l-bidla fil-klima qed tinħass u l-effetti tagħha qed jidhru. Sakemm dawn l-effetti bdew jidhru ftit kienu dawk li taw kaz: imma l-ħsara diġà kienet hemm.
Dak li l-effett tiegħu jmur lil hinn minn leġislatura Parlamentari – f’kull rokna tad-dinja – dejjem tħalla għal “iktar tard”. Issa l-“iktar tard” wasal.
Il-klima qed tinbidel u għandha effetti kbar fuqna u madwarna.
It-temperatura li qed togħla nieħdu pjaċir biha fix-xhur xitwin imma fis-sajf iddejjaqna u per konsegwenza nixgħelu iktar kmieni u għal perjodi itwal l-air conditioner.
Fil-heat waves li qed ikollna fis-sjuf qed jiżdiedu l-imwiet ta’ anzjani li ma jifilħux għas-sħana żejda, filwaqt li bit-temperatura togħla fix-xitwa b’mod partikolari f’pajjiżi ferm iksaħ minn tagħna, qed jonqsu l-imwiet kawża tal-kesħa fix-xitwa. Imma b’temperatura li togħla iktar nistgħu nkunu f’pożizzjoni li mard li jinġarr minn insetti li ma għixux fit-temperaturi li kellna s’issa jistgħu jfeġġu fiċ-ċirkustanzi l-ġodda li qed jiżviluppaw.
In-natura, kemm il-flora kif ukoll il-fauna, bit-temperatura togħla qed titħawwad ftit. Għax tifhem li nbidel l-istaġun u l-bidla tat-temperatura jibda proċess tal-istaġun li jkun imiss.
L-intensità tax-xita nassoċjawha mal-għargħar f’B’Kara u l-Imsida jew mat-tappieri tad-drenaġġ ifuru f’diversi partijiet ta’ Malta. Forsi m’aħniex konxji li xita qawwija tkaxkar il-ħamrija mill-għelieqi tagħna.
In-nuqqas tax-xita mhux biss tnixxef l-għelieqi imma tnaqqas r-rata li biha l-ilma tal-pjan ikun sostitwit bl-ilma tax-xita li jipperkola mill-blat. Flimkien mal-użu dejjem jiżdied tal-ilma tal-pjan in-nuqqas ta’ xita qed iżid id-dipendenza tal-pajjiż fuq sorsi mhux naturali għall-ilma meħtieġ għall-konsum b’mod li illum niddependu għal 60% tal-ilma mir-Reverse Osmosis.
Is-silġ qed idub għax it-temperatura medja globali qed togħla u per konsegwenza l-livell tal-baħar qiegħed jogħla.
Filwaqt li dan mhux se jiġri għada jista’ jibda joqrob lejn tmiem is-seklu li qegħdin fih.
Is-silġ fl-Artiku qed jonqos u nafu ukoll li jekk iddub dik li hi magħrufa bħala l-Greenland Ice Cap il-volum ta’ ilma ġenerat iservi biex jgħolli l-livell tal-baħar b’7 metri. Dan ikkawżat mill-gassijiet serra (greenhouse gases) li jirriżultaw mill-ħidma umana. Il-kontribut tagħna bħala Malta ġej prinċipalment mill-enerġija u t-trasport u f’miżura inqas mill-iskart u mill-agrikultura.
It-tnaqqis tal-kontribut tagħna bħala pajjiż lejn il-bidla fil-klima għaldaqstant irid jindirizza prinċipalment il-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija u t-trasport.
Fil-qasam tal-enerġija alternattiva filwaqt li ma nistax ngħid li ma sar xejn, nista’ iżda ngħid li dak li sar sar tard u bil-mod. Għalkemm ġie determinat sit potenzjali għall-istallazzjoni ta’ turbini tar-riħ għadu kmieni biex nistgħu ngħidu li dak hu s-sit. Meta jkun tlesta l-eżami tal-impatti ambjentali nkunu nistgħu nitkellmu aħjar fuq is-sit tas-Sikka l-Bajda.
Dwar siti fuq l-art nifhem li mhux faċli. Bejn li ħadd ma jridhom wara biebu prinċipalment minħabba l-ħsejjes li jiġġeneraw u bejn problemi ta’ estetika. S’issa iżda ma jidhirx li saru sforzi biex jinstabu siti adatti fuq l-art.
Fir-raba’ tagħna l-bdiewa użaw irdieden tar-riħ biex itellgħu l-ilma. Is-siti ta’ dawn l-irdieden tar-riħ huma magħżula bir-reqqa minn missirijietna. Dawn is-siti, li jgħoddu bil-mijiet, kollha għandhom il-potenzjal li jintużaw biex ikunu istallati turbini ta’ daqs medju.
Fiż-żoni industrijali hemm ukoll il-possibbiltà ta’ stallazzjoni ta’ turbini tar-riħ, tal-inqas f’dawk il-partijiet li huma ’l bogħod mill-abitat.
Dwar l-enerġija ġġenerata mix-xemx sar ftit wisq. L-għajnuna finanzjarja mogħtija mill-Gvern fl-aħħar baġit għalkemm hi ġeneruża hi ftit wisq biex tagħmel differenza. Minbarra dan l-applikabbiltà tagħha hi limitata għal min għandu l-mezzi biex joħroġ parti mill-kapital rikjest.
Kien ikun iktar floku kieku kienet ikkunsidrata skema fejn l-ispejjeż tal-istallazzjoni jkunu jistgħu jitħallsu permezz tal-elettriku ġġenerat.
F’dan il-kuntest l-eżempju li l-Gvern qiegħed jagħti permezz ta’ skejjel bħal San Benedittu fejn ġew istallati pannelli fotovoltajċi għandu jkun estiż għall-bini pubbliku kollu fuq medda ta’snin. Dan jinvolvi spiża kapitali mhux żgħira imma fi ftit żmien din hi spiża li tista’ tkun irkuprata, b’mod partikolari issa li r-rati tal-elettriku sparaw ’il fuq.
Fil-mixja lejn ekonomija ekoloġika, qed jinħolqu (u jistgħu jinħolqu bosta iktar) impiegi illi jikkontribwixxu biex tkun ippreservata l-kwalità ambjentali u fejn neċessarju din tkun restawrata. Dan jinkludi impjiegi konnessi mal-ħarsien tal-eko-sistemi u l-biodiversità, impjiegi konnessi mat-tnaqqis fil-ħela ta’ enerġija elettrika, tal-ilma u riżorsi oħra, tnaqqis fl-użu tal-carbon mill-ekonomija (decarbonisation), tnaqqis fil-ġenerazzjoni tal-iskart u tniġġis ta’ kull forma.

Dan se jfisser:
1. li jistgħu jinħolqu impjiegi ġodda fil-manufattura ta’ apparat li jnaqqas it-tniġġis,
2. xi impiegi ser jiċċaqalqu minn xogħol li qed isir illum għal xogħol ġdid li qed jinħoloq bħal fil-qasam tal-iskart jew fil-qasam tal-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija alternattiva flok dik tradizzjonali,
3. xi impiegi ser jintilfu u dan in konnessjoni ma’ attività li tista’ tkun eliminata jew imnaqqsa,
4. impiegi oħra ser ikunu żviluppati u trasformati biex jieħdu konsiderazzjoni ta’ realtajiet ġodda.

Dawn l-impiegi jikkonċernaw
1. il-ħtiġijiet tekniċi konċernati l-ġenerazzjoni ta’ enerġija alternattiva,
2. il-miżuri meħtieġa biex tiżdied l-effiċjenza tal-bini fl-użu tal-enerġija,
3. xogħol speċjalizzat konċernanti t-trasport, kemm dak għall-użu privat kif ukoll dak għall-użu tal-pubbliku,
4. l-industrija tar-riċiklar,
5. l-industrija tal-iskart,
6. is-servizzi ambjentali,
7. l-agrikultura in partikolari fit-transizzjoni lejn agrikultura organika.

It-triq hi twila u iebsa. Hemm problemi diversi konnessi mal-fatt li bdejna tard fit-triq lejn ekonomija li tirrispetta l-ambjent. Hemm ukoll il-problema li l-Gvern mhux dejjem konvint minn dak li qiegħed jagħmel.
Imma nemmen li l-kuxjenza nazzjonali li qed tifforma ser tgħin u tkun ta’ sostenn kbir biex din it-triq nibqgħu mexjin fiha bħala pajjiż.
F’din il-mixja l-unions għandhom rwol kbir. Mhux biss ta’ edukazzjoni tal-membri bħall-attività tal-lum. Imma fuq kollox li jassiguraw li l-partiti politiċi kollha jibqgħu mexjin f’din it-triq.