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Il-bidla fil-klima hi magħna

climate-change

Nhar il-Ġimgħa li għaddiet rappreżentanti ta’ iktar minn 170 pajjiż, Malta inkluża, inġabru fil-kwartieri ġenerali tal-Ġnus Magħquda fi New York biex jiffirmaw il-ftehim dwar il-klima li intlaħaq fi tmiem is-sena ġewwa Pariġi. Dan il-ftehim għandu jfisser li hemm qbil li kull pajjiż ser jikkontribwixxi lejn soluzzjoni ta’ din il-problema.

Hemm qbil biex jittieħdu l-passi kollha meħtieġa ħalli t-temperatura globali ma togħliex iktar minn bejn 1.5oC  u 2oC fuq it-temperatura globali, kif din kienet fil-bidu tal-perjodu industrijali. Biex dan isir jeħtieġ li jonqsu l-emissjonijiet li qed joriġinaw mill-attivitajiet tal-bniedem u li qed jinġabru fl-atmosfera u jsaħħnu d-dinja. Ewlieni fost dawn il-gassijiet hemm id-diossidju tal-karbonju (CO2) li prinċipalment joriġina mill-ħruq ta’ żjut fossili li nużaw biex niġġeneraw l-elettriku kif ukoll mill-petrol u mid-diesel li jintużaw fil-karozzi u inġenji oħra.

Anke Malta ser tfittex li tnaqqas l-impatti tagħha fuq il-klima u dan billi jkollha politika sostenibbli dwar it-trasport, l-enerġija u l-agrikoltura, fost oħrajn. Irridu nindirizzaw l-impatti tal-klima fuq il-bijodiversità, fuq is-saħħa, fuq it-turiżmu, fuq l-ilma, fuq l-agrikoltura kif ukoll fuq l-infrastruttura marittima.

Kemm is-sena li għaddiet kif ukoll l-ewwel tlett xhur ta’ din is-sena kienu fost l-iktar sħan fl-istorja. It-temp qed jitħawwad. L-istaġuni qed jiġġebbdu u jinbidlu. L-istaġuni tax-xita inbidlu għal kollox b’mod li qed issir ħsara kbira lill-agrikultura kif ukoll lill-ħażna tal-ilma li hi tant essenzjali għal kull forma ta’ ħajja. It-temperatura li qed togħla qed iddewweb is-silġ fil-poli u fuq il-muntanji f’diversi partijiet tad-dinja bil-konsegwenza li l-livell tal-baħar qed jogħla u ser jogħla iktar jekk ma’ jittieħdux miżuri biex inrazznu l-għoli tat-temperatura.

Irridu innaqqsu l-impatti tagħna fuq il-klima bħala pajjiż: irridu innaqqsu l-emissjonijiet kif ukoll il-ħela ta’ riżorsi bħall-ilma u l-elettriku. Jeħtieġilna ukoll li narmu inqas skart kif ukoll li nirriċiklaw iktar. Jekk nagħmlu iktar użu mit-trasport pubbliku ukoll nistgħu inkunu ta’ għajnuna kbira biex Malta tnaqqas il-kontribut tagħha għall-bidla fil-klima.

Irridu nifhmu li l-bidla fil-klima qed tħarbat il-ħajja ta’ kulħadd. Qed tipperikola r-riżorsi li s’issa tipprovdilna b’xejn in-natura. Dan ifisser li filwaqt li kulħadd jintlaqat, l-iktar li jintlaqtu huma l-fqar f’kull rokna tad-dinja. Għax it-tibdil fil-klima iżid il-faqar kullimkien. Dan diġa beda jseħħ.

Il-klima hi parti mill-ġid komuni, hi ta’ kulħadd u hi għal kulħadd. Hu għalhekk ukoll li għandna l-obbligu li kull wieħed minna jagħti sehmu biex l-impatti ta’ pajjiżna jonqsu. Il-ftit impatti tagħna huma importanti daqs il-ħafna impatti ta’ ħaddieħor. Mela niftħu ftit għajnejna għall-ħsara kbira li diġa saret u nagħtu sehemna biex din tonqos. Ma baqax żmien x’jintilef għax il-bidla fil-klima diġa qegħda magħna.

Din is-sena bħala riżultat tal-bidla fil-klima ftit li xejn kellna xita f’Malta. L-effett fuqna ser jinħass l-iktar fuq l-agrikultura u l-ħażniet tal-ilma. Pajjiżi oħra sofrew l-għargħar li kaxkar kull ma sab.

Dawn huma l-effetti li qed jidhru u li diġa huma magħna. Nagħmlu l-parti tagħna biex flimkien ma dak li jirnexxielhom jagħmlu pajjiżi oħra innaqqsu dawn l-impatti u b’hekk titjieb il-qagħda ta’ kulħadd. Għax il-klima hi ġid komuni tal-umanità kollha: hi ta’ kulħadd u hi għal kulħadd.

Parties in cahoots with squatters

Earlier this month, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s environment and planning commission, which deals with applications outside the development zone, turned down an application by Enemalta Corporation for the construction of a substation at L-Aħrax in the limits of Mellieħa. The planning directorate itself had recommended the refusal of this application.

This substation aimed at reinforcing the supply of electricity in L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa with Enemalta effectively posting the message that the crime of taking over public property does pay.

While Alternattiva Demokratika and seven environmental NGOs opposed this application, both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party have not uttered one single word on Enemalta’s attempt at ensuring that the squatters are adequately supplied with electricity. Clearly, the PN and the PL think that being silent is essential in view of their commitments to purchase votes through squatters taking over public property.

The PL and the PN have not taken up the challenge spelt out by the greens to go public on their position relative to the illegal development of boathouses at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, that is at Armier, Little Armier and It-Torri l-Abjad.

During the Mepa reform exercise, the Prime Minister repeatedly emphasised that “ODZ is ODZ”, meaning that no development will be authorised or permitted outside the development zone unless really necessary.

Dr Gonzi tried to convey the message that his safe pair of hands would ensure that abusive development would now grind to a halt. Yet, on the eve of the 2008 general election, Dr Gonzi participated in secret meetings with the illegal boathouse lobby which considers that its members have some god-given right over the public land that they have taken hold of. The result of those meetings was a PN commitment to protect illegal development carried out before 1992 on public land.

At stake are 230 tumoli of land (26 hectares), which, since way back in 2003, on the eve of another election, the PN-led government had agreed to transfer to the squatters’ holding company, Armier Developments Limited. The agreement between the government and the squatters’ holding company indicates a lease for 65 years against payment of €366,000 per annum. To date, this agreement has not been submitted for Parliament’s approval in terms of the Disposal of Government Land Act.

The squatters also expected the PL to protect their illegal constructions, which agreement was forthcoming. The newsletter Il-Bajja, published by the squatters, in October 2007 had referred to a meeting with the then Leader of the Opposition, Alfred Sant. It said that he had promised to honour an earlier agreement with the squatters, which was entered into way back in 2002.

As far as is known, Joseph Muscat has not repudiated Labour’s agreement with the squatters.

During this legislature, Minister Jason Azzopardi has embarked on a crusade of evicting squatters from public property including clearing squares and pavements of encroachments by restaurants and open air cafés. His staff members were meticulous in ensuring that an extra chair or table not covered by a permit was removed forthwith.

While noting and acting on the odd chair or table, Dr Azzopardi has turned the Nelson’s eye to the large-scale use of public land by the squatters at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieha. In so doing, he has applied the policy of being strong with the weak and weak with the strong.

Former Minister Michael Falzon wrote in an article entitled They Never Heard Of Jason Azzopardi (Malta Today, February 15, 2009) that he (Mr Falzon) was not supported by his Cabinet colleagues when, as the minister responsible for land use planning, he tried to clean up the Mellieħa boathouse mess. He was left “to burn my fingers alone, nay, my palms, arms and body. The lack of support from my then Cabinet colleagues – let alone the then backbench – was overwhelming. I could almost hear them chant: ‘Burn, Michael, burn!’”

It is clear that the PN is committed to supporting the illegal development on public land. By being silent on the issue, Labour too supports the PN’s stand without any reservations.

This is the new politics of Labour and the PN: being in cahoots with the squatters in order to exchange votes for public land, which they have occupied illegally for years. It is an issue on which PL and PN policies converge!

The environmental NGOs campaigning for a resolution of the illegal development at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa undoubtedly understand that there is only one way through which the land used by the squatters is restored and returned to public ownership and use. This can only be achieved through the election of green members of Parliament. The others are committed to supporting the squatters as they have been doing throughout the years.

There is no other way. If you seek real change, voting green is the only option. The others are compromised.

published in The Times on Saturday January 21, 2012

Linking energy and democracy

 
The Times Logo
Saturday, June 18, 2011 ,
by

Carmel Cacopardo

 

Last weekend, Italian voters said no to nuclear energy for the second time since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 25 years ago.

Italy is not alone in refusing to handle nuclear energy. The Fukushima incidents have driven home the point that, even in a country that is very strict on safety standards, nuclear energy is not safe. Fukushima has proven that no amount of safeguards can render nuclear energy 100 per cent safe. Though accidents are bound to happen irrespective of the technology used, the risks associated with nuclear technology are such that they can easily wipe out life from the affected area in a very short time.

Last weekend’s no has a particular significance for Malta as this means an end to plans for the construction of a nuclear power plant at Palma di Montechiaro on Sicily’s southern coast, less than 100 kilometres from the Maltese islands.

Germany’s Christian Democrat/Liberal coalition government, faced with the resounding victory of the Greens in the Länd of Baden-Württemberg, has made a policy U-turn. As a direct effect of the Greens-led opposition to Germany’s nuclear programme, Germany will be nuclear-energy free as from 2022, by which date all existing nuclear power installations will be phased out. In doing so, the Merkel government has, once and for all, accepted the Green-Red coalition agreement on a complete nuclear phaseout.

Even Switzerland is planning not to make use of its existing nuclear plants beyond their scheduled projected life. The Swiss government will be submitting to Parliament a proposal not to replace existing nuclear plants. The process is scheduled to commence in 2019 and will conclude with the closure of the last Swiss nuclear reactor in 2034.

After the Tunisian revolution, Abdelkader Zitouni, the leader of Tunisie Verte, the Tunisian Green party, has called on Tunisia’s transitional government to repudiate the Franco-Tunisian agreement for the provision of nuclear technology by France. Hopefully, the same will happen when the Administration of Libya is back to normal.

There are other Mediterranean neighbours that are interested in the construction of nuclear plants. Libya and Tunisia were joined by Algeria, Morocco and Egypt in reacting positively to Nicolas Sarkozy, the peripatetic nuclear salesman during the past four years.

Malta could do without nuclear energy installations on its doorstep. Italy’s decision and the policy being advocated by Mr Zitouni are a welcome start. It would be wishful thinking to imagine Foreign Minister Tonio Borg taking the initiative in campaigning for a Mediterranean free of nuclear energy even though this is in Malta’s interest.

It is a very healthy sign that Malta’s neighbours together with Germany and Switzerland are repudiating the use of nuclear energy. Their no to nuclear energy is simultaneously a yes to renewable energy. This will necessarily lead to more efforts, research and investment in renewable energy generation as it is the only reasonable way to make up for the shortfall between energy supply and demand.

A case in point is the Desertec project, which is still in its infancy. The Desertec initiative is based on the basic fact that six hours of solar energy incident on the world’s deserts exceeds the amount of energy used all over the globe in one whole year. Given that more than 90 per cent of the world’s population lives within 3,000 kilometres of a desert, the Desertec initiative considers that most of the world’s energy needs can be economically met through tapping the solar energy that can be captured from the surface of the deserts.

The technology is available and has been extensively tested in the Mojave Desert, California, in Alvarado (Badajoz), Spain and in the Negev Desert in Israel where new plants generating solar energy on a large scale have been in operation for some time. The Desertec project envisages that Europe’s energy needs can be met through tapping the solar energy incident on the Sahara desert. The problems that have to be surmounted are of a technical and of a geopolitical nature.

On the technical front, solutions are being developed to address more efficient storage and the efficient transmission of the electricity generated.

The Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt and, hopefully, the successful conclusion of the Libyan revolution will address the other major concern: that of energy security. The movement towards democracy in North Africa can contribute towards the early success of the Desertec project in tapping solar energy in the Sahara desert for use in both Northern Africa and in Europe.

While Malta stands to gain economically and environmentally through the realisation of such a project, I have yet to hear the government’s enthusiasm and commitment even if the project is still in its initial stages.

Malta is committed in favour of the pro-democracy movements in Egypt, Tunisia and Benghazi. Being surrounded by democratic neighbours is a definitely positive geopolitical development. If properly nurtured, this would enhance Malta’s economic development, energy security and environmental protection concerns.

AD lambasts Marsa Power Station Persisting Pollution

 

The attempt by government to extend further the use of the obsolete and polluting Marsa Power Station shows the low level of commitment of the Maltese government to the implementation of the EU acquis. Those who voted for a European Malta are once again being betrayed. The Maltese Government has known about the requirement to phase out the Marsa plant from before accession in 2004 but failed to plan for this in an adequate manner.
 
AD spokesperson on energy, industry and transport, Ralph Cassar said “Voters have once more been taken for a ride. In the 1990s they were told that once Delimara Power Station would have been operative, Marsa Power Station would have been decommissioned. Then in 2003 they were told that the Marsa Power Station would either comply with the acquis or else close down. They changed their version once more by stating that the plant would be allowed to pollute but would only operate for 20,000 hours from 1 Jan 2008 onwards. Now that the 20,000 hours have been used up, we are being told that the plant can only be decommissioned by 2013.” Malta risks not being taken seriously by the Commission. The Gonzi government is living in denial if it expects the Commission to let Malta operate a plant in total contravention of EU law. It is incredible that 6 years after acceding to the EU, this government which poses as European, but in fact is everything else but European, has not understood this. Ralph Cassar added, “According to the Large Combustion Plants Directive, Marsa will be allowed to operate beyond the 20,000 hours only if it achieves the emission standards laid down in the Directive.”
 
AD Chairperson Michael Briguglio said that “the government is condemning the residents of Marsa, Fgura, Paola, Tarxien, Santa Lucija and neighbouring localities to 2 more years of unacceptable emissions from the power station with dire consequences for their health. Austin Gatt and Tonio Fench have failed, their carelessness and mismanagement of the energy sector is glaringly obvious. Their incompetence will force our country to keep on using a polluting power plant against all rules which are designed to protect our health.”

Iċ-Ċajta dwar Dom Mintoff

 

Waqt iż-żjara li l-Prim Ministru Malti u l-Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin kellhom f’Ruma kellhom working lunch ma Silvio Berlusconi, Prim Ministru Taljan, li kien akkumpanjat minn Franco Frattini Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin.

Kif inhu xieraq f’okkazjonijiet bħal dawn tkellmu dwar diversi affarijiet.

Tkellmu dwar l-immigranti u l-kunċett ta’ “burden sharing“. Kien ikun iktar xieraq kieku tkellmu dwar “responsibility sharing” għax l-immigranti mhux “burden” izda responsabbilta li għandu jerfa’ kulħadd.

Tkellmu dwar il-kumnikazzjoni ta’ Malta mal-grid tal-elettriku fi Sqallija u Berlusconi kien entużjażmat ħafna dwar il-materja. Anke il-predeċessur tiegħu Romano Prodi kien jaqbel. Imma s’issa qatt ma waslu.

Ħadd ma qalilna jekk tkellmux dwar l-enerġija nukleari u jekk hiex l-intenzjoni tal-Gvern Taljan li wieħed mill-impjanti nukleari li Claudio Scaljola Ministru tal-Iżvilupp Ekonomiku ħabbar li jridu jinbnew nhar it-22 ta’ Mejju 2008 hux ser ikun fi Sqallija. F’każ bħal dan Malta għandha l-jedd li tkun involuta fil-proċess tal-EIA li jkun meħtieg li jsir. Iżda dwar dan ħadd ma qalilna xejn.

Imma minn flok qalulna dwar iċ-ċajta ta’ Tonio Borg fuq Dom Mintoff. Kif ukoll li Tonio Borg u Lawrence Gonzi jżommu mal-Inter u mhux mal-Milan ! 

Greening the Surcharge

 

Published on Saturday 12 July 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

The surcharge is back in the news after reaching its highest level yet : 95 per cent. Over the past months two alternatives were proposed, with the government now proposing a third in the form of redesigned tariffs.

The MLP, during the March 2008 electoral campaign, proposed that the surcharge ought to be halved. This meant that all of us would have to foot the bill for everybody’s consumption through increased subsidies. The second proposal was brought forward by AD, the Green party: that surcharge rates should be adjusted to benefit low users at the expense of the high consumers.

The change of MLP leadership brought about a change of views on the subject. New MLP leader Joseph Muscat, in a meeting with an AD delegation led by Arnold Cassola, stated that the AD surcharge proposal was a very reasonable basis for discussion. To his credit, Dr Muscat is inching Labour towards an adoption of AD’s surcharge policy.

The two remaining proposals are complementary. The government’s proposal to redesign tariffs can be integrated with the AD proposal producing a green pricing strategy. The rates to be established next October can be constructed in such a manner as to encourage low consumption and penalise high use of water and energy.

Water consumption can be substantially reduced through encouraging the use of rainwater not just in homes but also in offices and commercial establishments where possible. The provision of a rainwater cistern is a compulsory feature of the Maltese building code. It has in fact been codified since 1880. No building should be without a water cistern of a suitable size to retain rainwater incident on its roof. Yet, when the rainy season commences, flooded streets and overflowing sewers are a familiar sight. This being clear enough proof that, in lieu of collecting rainwater in a water cistern, a number of property owners just pour their rainwater onto the streets or, worse still, channel it directly into the public sewers. This does not only signify the loss of a natural resource but it is also the cause of considerable expense and dangers through the flooding of streets.

An overloaded sewer increases the load on sewage purification plants and, consequently, the energy required to purify the sewage before its intended use.

While emphasising the need for enforcement to ensure that water cisterns of an appropriate size are constructed in new buildings, I believe that the carrot is more effective than the stick.

Encouraging the use of rainwater and reflecting such encouragement in the water pricing policy would signify having low water rates for low consumption. This is already partially existent in the current pricing structure as the first cubic metres of water consumed per person in every household is subsidised. However, when the surcharge was introduced it did not consider this a feature worth emphasising and in fact the surcharge was applied indiscriminately irrespective of consumption.

The expense to the exchequer through applying lower rates for those who shift or have shifted their water consumption from mains water to rainwater will be more than recouped through lower costs in producing water, less waste water to treat at sewage purification plants and less flooding of streets after a heavy rainstorm.

In respect of energy bills, current basic rates differentiate between low and high users, yet the surcharge mechanism ignored this too. Rates charged vary for the first 6,400 units per annum at which point the maximum rate is applied.

In addition, those installing photovoltaic panels receive a financial grant to encourage installation. They are connected to the national grid as a result selling any excess electricity generated. Excess electricity so generated is deducted from electricity bills on the basis of one unit generated compensating for every unit consumed. This is positive although it is still far off from current practice elsewhere. In other countries, notably in Germany, electricity generated through photovoltaic panels or wind turbines is paid for at a much higher rate. This not only encourages the generation of renewable energy but it is also an environmental statement to the effect that the conventional method of generation of electricity has hidden costs which are not yet reflected in the price structure. Part of these hidden costs are medical costs related to respiratory diseases to which power station emissions are a major contributor.

In the alternative set-up of revised tariffs, the pricing structure must support those who strive to minimise their environmental impacts. The new water and electricity pricing policy must not be just another accounting exercise. It must also be a reflection of the government’s environmental policy, one of the instruments through which it can manifest that it is serious when it proclaims to one and all that sustainable development is on the top of its agenda.

Distributing energy saving bulbs, whenever this will happen, is not sufficient.

The author, an architect and civil engineer, is the spokesman on sustainable development and local government of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party in Malta.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

you may also read through the following posts which deal with the same subject :

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/03/26/dik-il-bozza/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/surcharge/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/l-mlp-u-l-proposti-tal-ad-dwar-is-%e2%80%9csurcharge%e2%80%9d/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/revizjoni-tas-surcharge/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/inharsu-l-ambjent-ghax-hekk-tajjeb-u-ghax-jaqblilna/

Inħarsu l-Ambjent : għax hekk tajjeb u għax jaqblilna !

 

 

 

Il-messaġġ kontinwu li qed twassal AD f’dawn il-jiem huwa li l-ħarsien tal-ambjent hu stument biex intejbu l-kwalita’ tal-ħajja tagħna lkoll.

 

Li nifhmu illi huwa meħtieġ illi ma naħlux elettriku u ilma huwa biss wieħed mill-issues. Nisħqu fuq illum iktar mill-bieraħ għax is-suġġett huwa attwali minħabba fiż-żieda fil-prezzijiet kif ukoll minħabba fiż-żieda fis-surcharge.

 

L-AD qed tinsisti li min ma jaħlix ikun ippremjat u min jaħli għandu jħallas sakemm jirrealizza li jaqbillu hu ukoll li juża r-risorsi bil-galbu.

 

Kif nistgħu ma naħlux ?

 

L-ewwel nistennew li jagħti eżempju l-Gvern. Għidna f’waħda mill-istqarrijiet tal-AD illi ma jistax ikun li l-impjanti tat-tisfija tad-drenaġġ wara li jkunu ppurifikaw l-ilma jarmu kollox il-baħar. Dan x’sens fih ? Veru li l-ilma ma jkunx għadu tajjeb. Imma veru ukoll li bi ftit investiment ieħor (ħdejn il-miljuni ġja investiti) jkun tajjeb ta’ l-inqas bħala ilma għat-tisqija. Il-Gvern fi ftit kliem qed jagħti eżempju ħażin.

 

It-tieni nistennew li min jimxi sewwa u juża r-risorsi bil-galbu jkun ippremjat mis-sistema.  Għalhekk qed nipproponu li min ikollu konsum baxx kemm tal-elettriku kif ukoll tal-ilma ikollu rati tas-surcharge (inkella t-tariffi meta dawn jinbidlu f’Ottubru li ġej) li jvarjaw skond l-użu. Min juża ftit ikollu rati baxxi ta’ surcharge u min juża ħafna jkollu rati għoljin. Mhux biss għar-residenzi iżda ukoll għall-użu kummerċjali.

 

Biex dan isir hemm bżonn li jkunu stabiliti benchmarks raġjonevoli permezz ta’ audits dwar l-użu tal-ilma u l-elettriku.

 

Hemm bżonn li min jiġġenera l-elettriku huwa permezz tal-pannelli fotovoltajci jew mtieħen żgħar tar-riħ jitħallas b’rata iktar għolja mill-Enemalta. Hekk jiġri f’pajjiżi oħra biex jinkuraġixxu lil min jagħti sehmu.

 

Hemm bżonn li min juża l-ilma tax-xita ikun eżentat mis-surcharge. Tafu għaliex ? Għax lill-pajjiż jiffrankalu :

1.      il-ħtieġa tal-produzzjoni ta’ l-ilma, inkluż l-elettriku li jintuża fl-impjanti tar-Reverse Osmosis,

2.      inaqqas l-ilma tax-xita mit-triq jew mid-drenaġġ, għax dan ikun qiegħed jinġabar fil-bir,

3.      jiffranka kwantita’ ta’ ilma li għalxejn jispiċċa fl-impjant tat-tisfija tad-drenaġġ, u allura l-elettriku meħtieġ biex dan jissaffa.

 

Jekk iktar nies jaħżnu l-ilma tax-xita fil-bir u jużawħ flok l-ilma li tipprovdi l-Korporazzjoni għas-Serviżżi tal-Ilma l-effett ikun enormi : għall-pajjiż u għall-but tiegħek. Il-pajjiż jiffranka l-miljuni u inti tiffranka l-mijiet.

 

 

Inħarsu l-ambjent ifisser kwalita’ tal-ħajja aħjar. Bil-flus iffrankati minn użu bil-għaqal tar-riżorsi jistgħu jsiru affarijiet oħra li bħalissa m’għandniex mezzi biżżejjed għalihom.