The Nature of Green Politics

published on September 13, 2008


On being elected leader of the Greens in England and Wales last week, MEP Caroline Lucas stated: “There is a huge number of people out there who want to hear our message and we want to get better at getting it across. I want to get our message out about social justice. Everyone knows we are the party of the environment. What fewer people know is that if you are looking for the real progressive force in British politics today, it is the Green party”.

During the March 2008 general election, the PN took on board most of AD’s environmental policies. The MLP is now taking on board AD’s campaign on civil rights: divorce, gay rights, local council voting at age 16. AD’s campaign on rent reform has borne fruit. A consensus seems to be developing around AD’s electoral proposal on the energy surcharge: having a low or no charge for basic use and a high charge for excessive users.

An impressive contribution by a political party which has not yet made it to Parliament!

It is to early to state whether the PN and/or the MLP are trying to be greener than the greens. The emerging interest of the PN and the MLP in Green politics is positive as, in fact, this is coalition building by the back door!

It is to be borne in mind that Green parties are not restricted to environmental issues although, as stated by Ms Lucas, the environment is that area of politics with which Greens are mostly associated.

The Charter of The Global Greens, approved in Canberra in 2001, in fact identifies six principles forming the basis of Green politics: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, non-violence, sustainability and respect for diversity. Viewed together, they form the basis of Green politics. All six are enshrined in the policy positions taken locally by AD.

Humankind is part of the natural world. We must respect all the other species forming part of this world. All forms of life are to be valued as all belong to the same natural world. This signifies that we must learn to live within the ecological and resource limits of planet earth and that we must ensure fulfilling the basic duty to respect biodiversity and life-support systems. Where we have little or no knowledge we must be cautious and tread carefully, thereby ensuring that we do not prejudice present and future generations. Basic to the achievement of social justice is the equitable distribution of resources. Social and environmental justice are thus intertwined.

Green parties the world over are firm believers in subsidiarity. AD will by the time of publication of this article have made public its proposals for a reform of local government. AD will argue for a strengthening of local government in Malta through devolution of additional responsibilities, clearer funding rules, Green tendering procedures at a local level and the need to introduce a referendum to decide on development projects having a significant impact on the locality.

The Greens respect diversity. Diversity of opinion. Ethical pluralism. Diversity in gender orientation. This has to be reflected in everyday politics. Hence, the Greens stand up against homophobia and support the right of gays and lesbians to be treated as equal persons of our community to which they too contribute through their daily toil.

The Greens favour divorce in contrast to those who believe in the theocratic powers of the state of imposing the beliefs of a section of the community on the rest. Those who believe in the indissolubility of marriage have a right to freely practise their beliefs. However, they have no right to impose their beliefs on the rest of the country. The state in Malta is still theocratic in this respect. It is about time that the winds of change open up the doors of ethical pluralism. Divorce has been recognised in Malta since 1975 but only for those who have the financial means to proceed to a foreign jurisdiction.

The effects of the March 2008 electoral campaign will take some time to sink into the psyche of the Maltese voter. It is not just about electoral promises which will not be fulfilled. Nor about scandals such as the Mistra one or the reversal of dubious pre-electoral decisions such as that on the development at Transfiguration Avenue in Lija. Voters are realising that the major parties avoided issues in March but subsequently had to face them. The shipyards debacle is a case in point wherein government intransigence had to give way to a civil society insistence on dialogue. Common sense eventually prevailed.

In the months ahead, the Greens in Malta will continue to face the issues and present to the public the progressive options which lie ahead.

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 :

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.

Reviżjoni tas-surcharge


Is-surcharge jista’ jiġi revedut minħabba iż-żieda fenomenali fil-prezz taż-żejt.


Iżda mhux hekk biss. Intqal li qed ikunu kkunsidrati reviżjoni tat-tariffi. Jiġifieri apparti s-surcharge huma r-rati vera u propji tal-elettriku u l-ilma ukoll li jistgħu jinbidlu.


X’għandu jsir? Ovjament ħadd m’hu ser jieħu ġost li jiżdied il-ħlas kemm jekk dan ikun għall-elettriku kif ukoll jekk dan ikun għall-ilma. Iż-żieda fl-ispejjes minn x’imkien trid tiġi. Jekk tiġix mill-ħlas tal-kontijiet inkella jekk tiġix mit-taxxi ġenerali l-ispiża xorta ser titħallas u xorta ser inħallsuha aħna. Id-differenza ser tkun jekk iħallasx għall-ispiża min jagħmel użu mis-servizz jew jekk iħallasx għaliha kulħadd irrispettivament minn kemm juża elettriku u ilma.


F’soċjeta li tirrispetta l-ambjent l-għażla hi waħda ovvja :  li l-ispiża, soġġett għall-miżuri li jilqgħu għall-impatti soċjali fuq familji ta’ mezzi limitati, għandu jġorrha min jagħmel użu mill-elettriku u l-ilma skond l-użu.


Waqt il-kampanja elettorali AD ipproponejna li anke s-surcharge għandha tkun strutturata b’tali mod illi min juża’ ħafna elettriku u ilma jħallas rata ferm għola ta’ surcharge minn min juża’ inqas.


B’rati ta’ surcharge li jvarjaw skond l-użu tonqos il-ħela, kemm tal-elettriku kif ukoll tal-ilma.


Dan m’għandux isir għar-residenzi biss iżda għall-kummerċ u għall-industrija ukoll. Sussidji żejda ma jagħmlu ġid lil ħadd. Anke l-kummerċ u l-industrija għandhom ikunu soġġetti għas-surcharge bl-istess kundizzjonijiet : jiġifieri li min jimplimenta miżuri li jnaqqsu l-użu tal’elettriku u l-ilma jkollu rati ta’ surcharge inqas iebsa minn min juża’ ħafna.




Ara ukoll dawn il-posts fuq din il-blog :



Dik il-bozza




L-MLP u l-proposti tal-AD dwar is-surcharge

L-MLP u l-proposti tal-AD dwar is-“surcharge”


Arnold Cassola, Chairperson ta’ AD flimkien mad-Deputati Chairpersons Mario Mallia u Stephen Cachia il-bieraħ iltaqgħu mat-tmexxija tal-Partit Laburista fil-Ħamrun. Min-naħa tal-Partit Laburista kienu preżenti l-Mexxej Dr. Joseph Muscat, id-Deputati Mexxejja Dr. Toni Abela u Dr. Anġlu Farrugia u s-Segretarju Ġenerali Jason Micallef.

Fl-istqarrijiet li nħarġu mill-AD u l-MLP ġew imfissra l-posizzjonijiet taż-żewġ naħat.

Ġew diskussi l-kriżi fil-prezzijiet ta’ l-ikel u ż-żejt u kif din qed taffettwa l-livell ta’ l-għixien ta’ l-impjegati u specjalment dawk ta’ dħul baxx u medju.  

Imma ġie diskuss ukoll kif il-mekkaniżmu tas-surcharge jista’ jkun aktar ġust billi jippremja lil min juża l-enerġija b’mod għaqli minflok kif inhu bħalissa fejn kulħadd iħallas l-istess rata ta’ surcharge irrispettivament mill-konsum.

Il-Mexxej tal-MLP emfasizza illi l-proposta tal-AD fl-aħħar elezzjoni, u ċjoe li s-surcharge m’għandiex titħallas bl-istess mod minn kulħadd, iżda li għandha tkun tiffavurixxi lil min ma jaħlix hi bażi tajba għal diskussjoni fil-pajjiż.


Ovvjament (ngħid jien) m’huwiex possibli illi s-surcharge titnaqqas bin-nofs, b’daqqa ta’ pinna. Min jaħli għandu jerfa’ l-piż iżda min jieħu l-prewkazzjonijiet biex ma jaħlix għandu jkun ippremjat.

Tajjeb li l-MLP qiegħed jirrikonoxxi l-proposti tajbin tal-AD .

Issa nistennew x’ser jagħmel il-Gvern, li ħabbar li qiegħed jikkonsidra jekk u kif ser jirrevedi t-tariffi u/jew is-surcharge fuq id-dawl u l-ilma.  Nittamaw li hu ukoll jiftaħ għajnejh għall-proposti tal-AD li saru u huma fl-interess tal-pajjiż.











Stqarrija ta’ Alternattiva  Demokratika



In vista taż-żieda imminenti fis-surcharge applikat għall-ħlas tal-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma, Alternattiva Demokratika emfasizzat għal darba oħra li surcharge applikabbli b’rata waħda huwa inġust. Huwa każ ċar ta’ politika tal-calculator.


Ralph Cassar, il-kelliemi tal-AD għall-Enerġija, Innovazzjoni u l-Industrija qal li “Alternattiva dejjem irrikonoxxiet li huwa essenzjali li jkun hemm x’jagħmel tajjeb għall-prezz dejem jiżdied taż-żejt. L-ebda politiku ma jista’ jiċħad dan. Imma Alternativa temmen li l-implimentazzjoni ta’ rata waħda u uniformi  a’ surcharge hi ineffettiva kemm soċjalement kif ukoll ambjentalment. Alternattyiva tirrepeti l-proposta illi iktra minn rata waħda hemm ħtieġa li jkunu introdotti rati differenti  applikali skond l-użu li effettivament isir ras għal ras fir-residenzi tagħna. B’dan il-mod familji li ma jaħlux iħallsu rata baxxa filwaqt li dawk li jaħlu jħallsu rata għolja. B’hekk dawk li għandhom konsm għoli jikkontribwixxu u jagħmlu tajjeb għall-ħlas tas-surcharge ta’ dawk li huma effiċjenti. Dan ma jinvolvix spejjes addizzjonali għall-kaxxa ta’ Malta. Il-proposta ta’ Alternattiva tagħmilha possibli għall-Gvern illi jraħħas is-surcharge għal dawk li jimmerithom għax effiċjenti fil-waqt li jirkupra ammont ekwivalenti mingħand dawk li jaħlu.”

Il-kelliem tal-AD għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli Carmel Cacopardo qal li ma nistgħux nibqgħu inżidu s-surcharge biex inlaħħqu maż-żieda fil-prezz taż-żejt. Jekk Malta trid tilħaq it-targets tal-Unjoni Ewropea billi tipproduci 10% tal-enerġija minn sorsi rinovibbli sal-2020 hemm bżonn li jidħol fis-seħħ pjan serju b’miri u skadenzi ċari. Il-proposti tal-Alternattiva jiffukaw fuq l-effiċjenza, eliminazzjoni tal-ħela kif ukoll proposti varji immirati biex il-familji jiġu mgħejjuna jnaqqsu d-dipendenza tagħhom fuq enerġija minn sorsi li jniġġsu u dan simultanjament ma għajnuna biex jitnaqqsulhom il-kontijiet. Carmel Cacopardo żied jgħid li “Il-Gvern qiegħed jindirizza biss l-impatti ekonomiċi. Il-proposti ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika tħares lejn il-problema b’mod olistiku billi tintegra l-konsiderazzjonijiet ekonomiċi, ambjentali u soċjali.”  Ralph Cassar żied jgħid “Il-proposti tagħna jinkludu minn 4 sa 5 turbini tar-riħ li jiġġeneraw l-elettriku bi spiża ta’ madwar 5 euro-ċenteżmi għal kull unit, filwaqt li l-elettriku ġġenerat mill-Enemalta jiswa madwar 11-il euro-ċenteżmu għal kull unit; programm nazzjonali ta’ inċentivi biex jinbidlu fid-djar il-bozoz bil-filament b’dawk energy saving; investiment fuq medda ta’ 5 snin f’solar water heaters għal 50,000 residenza kif ukoll investiment biex ikunu istallati 5,000 sistema fotovoltajka. Dak li jiffranka l-Gvern bl-użu ridott taż-żejt importat ikun iktar minn biżżejjed biex jagħmel tajjeb għal dan l-investiment. Huwa meħtieġ li Malta  issib il-mod kif tilħaq il-miri tal-Unjoni Ewropea. Il-proposti tagħna għall-ħames snin li ġejjin huwa bidu tajjeb biex dawn jintlaħqu.”