Il-bidla fil-klima: mill-kliem għall-fatti

Fit-tmiem ta’ attivita’ dwar il-bidla fil-klima organizzata minn Alternattiva Demokratika Żgħażagħ (ADŻ), dalgħodu jiena u Mina Tolu (flimkien miegħi u ma Arnold kandidat għall-Parlament Ewropew) indirizzajt konfernza stampa dwar il-bidla fil-klima.
Tajjeb li Alternattiva Demokratika Żgħażagħ ħadet din l-inizjattiva għax hemm ħtieġa li insemmgħu leħinna anke dwar dan.

Il-bidla għall-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija mill-heavy fuel oil għall-gass kien pass tajjeb. Il-gass iżda, jitqies bħala fjuwil ta’ tranżizzjoni għal enerġija rinnovabbli. Neħtieġu iktar energija mix-xemx u mir-riħ kif ukoll li naraw li jkun hemm użu tal-energija mill-mewġ li bħala gżira aħna mdawwrin bih is-sena kollha. L-applikazzjoni tat-teknoloġija li qegħda dejjem tiżviluppa twasslu għal tipi ta’ xogħol ġdid u sostenibbli u fl-istess ħin jikkontribwixxu lejn kwalita’ ta’ ħajja aħjar għal kulħadd.

It-trasport għadu problema kbira u jidher li l-problema se tkompli tikber minħabba żieda astronomika fin-numru ta’ karozzi fit-toroq Maltin u Għawdxin. Sfortunatament l-Gvern minflok jinvesti f’trasport sostenibbli u nadif qiegħed għaddej fuq programm qawwi ta’ xogħol infrastrutturali li qed iservi biex jinkoraġġixxi iktar użu tal-karozzi u per konsegwenza qiegħed iħassar il-progress li qed jinkiseb biż-żieda fl-użu tat-trasport pubbliku. Irridu investiment serju f’infrastruttura għar-roti u r-roti elettriċi, kif ukoll fl-użu ta’ mezzi alternattivi għat-trasport li jinkludu dawk bil-baħar.

Il-mina proposta għal bejn Malta u Ghawdex hi essenzjalment mina għall-karozzi u mhux mina għan-nies. Fil-fatt huwa stmat li fi żmien 15-il sena l-ammont ta’ movimenti ta’ karozzi bejn il-gżejjer ser jiżdied minn 3000 għal 9000 karozza kuljum. Servizz għan-nies ifisser servizzi ta’ fast-ferry minn Għawdex sal-qalba ta’ Malta. Il-mina tinkoragixxi l-uzu tal-karozzi għax il-ħlas li jinġabar minn dawk li ser jinvestu fil-mina ser jiddependi esklussivament fuq in-numru ta’ karozzi li jgħaddu mill-mina.

Huwa essenzjali li n-numru ta’ karozzi fit-toroq tagħna jonqos. Dan wara kollox hu ukoll wiehħed mill-iskopijiet ewlenin tal-istrateġija Nazzjonali tat-Trasport approvata mill-Gvern Malti fl-2015. Il-Gvern Malti ma jistax jibqa’ għaddej kif inhu. Bħalissa qed jagħti messaġġi konfliġġenti kontinwament.

Jekk irridu nindirizzaw il-bidla fil-klima bis-serjetà huwa essenzjali li nindirizzaw l-impatti ikkawżati mit-trasport. Żmien il-paroli għadda. Għandna ngħaddu mill-kliem għal fatti.

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L-Imtieħen tar-Riħ

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Huwa tajjeb li fl-aħħar il-Gvern beda jiċċaqlaq biex ikun possibli li f’Malta ukoll niġġeneraw l-enerġija mir-riħ.

Fl-aħħar.

Beda jiċċaqlaq għax l-Unjoni Ewropea qed tagħfas. Mill-bqija m’hemm l-ebda entużjażmu.

Ħarsa lejn ir-rapport ta’ Mott MacDonald imħejji f’Jannar 2009 w intitolat Feasibility Study for Increasing Renewable Energy Credentials fil-paġna 2-3 hemm kumment dwar in-nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni fuq l-irjieħat.

Jingħad mill-konsulenti li billi l-informazzjoni li kellhom kienet dwar ir-riħ f’Ħal-Luqa, 18-il kilometru mis-Sikka l-Bajda ma tantx setgħu jkunu preċiżi f’dak li jgħidu. L-argument għaldaqstant hu dwar kif tista’ tibda tikkunsidra siti differenti biex fihom tqiegħed imtieħen tar-riħ jekk qabel ma tkunx analizzajt bir-reqqa l-qawwa tar-riħ madwar il-gżejjer Maltin u b’hekk tkun tista’ tibda bl-aħjar siti.

Dan jidher li ma sarx, kemm mir-rapport li jissemma iktar il-fuq (dak ta’ Mott MacDonald) kif ukoll mir-rapport tal-Kummissjoni Deidun intitolat “An Offshore Windfarm at Is-Sikka l-Bajda. An Evaluation of Concerns from Government Stakeholders.” datat Lulju 2008. Ir-rapport Deidun jitkellem biss dwar Is-Sikka l-Bajda, ma kellux għażla. Ma setax jikkonsidra options oħra.

Issa jiena m’għandi xejn kontra li jkun hemm l-imtieħen tar-riħ fis-Sikka l-Bajda. Imma xtaqt li nkun naf fuq liema kriterju ġie deċiż li dan ikun sit biex fih jitqegħdu l-imtieħen. Hemm min qed jgħid li din hi xi ħaġa li wieħed jaraha fl-istadju tal-analiżi tal-impatti ambjentali. Le. Qabel ma intagħżel is-sit kellu jkun hemm ġustifikazzjoni għal dan. Parti minn dak magħruf bħala Strategic Site Selection Exercise. Din setgħet issir biss a bażi ta’ kemm hu qawwi r-riħ fl-inħawi. Minn hemm imbagħad wieħed jgħaddi biex jeżamina l-impatti ambjentali, u kif dawn jistgħu jkunu mitigati.

Wara li sar ir-rapport Deidun, għax jidher li hemm problemi dwar is-sit tas-Sikka l-Bajda, l-Gvern identifika żewġ siti oħra addizzjonali : Ħal-Far u Wied Rini limiti tal-Baħrija. Araw ftit x’jingħad dwar il-qawwa tar-rih f’dawn l-inħawi fil-Project Description Statement tal-proposti għas-Sikka l-Bajda, Ħal-Far u Wied Rini.

F’kull wieħed minn dawn ir-rapporti jidher ċar li ma sar l-ebda studju iżda intuża l-kejl tar-riħ f’Ħal-Luqa. Dan iwassal għall-konlużjoni illi jista’ jkun li hemm siti oħra li huma iktar addattati biex fihom jitqegħdu l-imtieħen tar-rih. Għax tant hemm x’jgħin jew itellef li bil-kalkulazzjonijiet biss ma mhux biżżejjed.

Sfortunatament għal darba oħra l-Gvern mexa b’mod dilettantesk : l-ewwel ħa d-deċiżjoni dwar fejn irid l-imtieħen tar-riħ u issa qed jara kif jiġġustifika din id-deċiżjoni.

Nittama biss li ma jkomplix jgħaffeġ. Forsi xi darba mhux il-bogħod nibdew bħala pajjiż niġġeneraw l-enerġija mir-rih, imma dan nagħmluh b’effiċjenza.

Paroli biss

 

 

 

L-Iskozja ħabbret il-proġett tal-Clyde wind farm.

 

Bi spiża stmata ta’ £600 miljun (€866.50 miljun) il-proġett jinvolvi 152 turbina b’kapaċita ta’ 456MW. Biżżejjed għal 250,000 dar.

 

L-Iskozja qed tippjana li sal-2011 tiġġenera 31% tal-enerġija elettrika li għandha bżonn minn sorsi rinovibbli. Sal-2020 qed timmira għal 50%.

 

U aħna : għandna Gvern li jlablab ħafna u r-riżultati ma jidhru imkien !

Addressing Our Environmental Deficit

published on Sunday 27 July 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

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 In his address to Parliament last May, the President had stated: “The government’s plans and actions are to be underpinned by the notion of sustainable development of the economy, of society and of the environment. When making decisions today, serious consideration will be given to the generations of tomorrow.”

In December 2006, the National Sustainability Commission had drawn up the National Sustainable Development Strategy. Having been approved by Cabinet, it is appropriate that the pre-budget document just published ignites the debate on its implementation. The strategy is a blueprint for action representing a holistic perspective as to how this country should be administered. Its eventual handling will in due course give a clear indication of the government’s real views on sustainable development.

Malta’s energy policy is undoubtedly up for an upheaval. Due to the absence of strategic planning over the years, Malta is one of the few countries without any significant alternative energy generated. Other countries identified their vulnerability because of fuel oil dependency years ago and took action. Denmark has since built up its wind energy industry from scratch since the oil crises in the 1970s and is now a world leader. In 2005 Denmark generated 18.5 per cent of its electrical energy needs through wind.

The pre-budget document identifies near shore wind technology as the next step forward, contributing 95MW of wind energy or seven per cent of Malta’s projected electricity demand in 2010. The shortfall in meeting the EU target of having 10 per cent of electricity demand met by alternative energy is planned to be met with wind turbines at other exposed land sites and industrial estates, including those to be identified within the framework of the eco-Gozo project.

The pre-budget document focuses on macro-generation and does not give sufficient weight to micro-generation of energy, both with small wind turbines as well as with photovoltaic panels. It must be borne in mind that micro-generation if adequately motivated could add up to a substantial amount of energy generated through alternative technology. In addition to residential application (not flats or maisonettes!), schools and public buildings could be ideal sites for the micro-generation of energy. Moreover, one can consider fitting micro-turbines to the structures of the hundreds of disused windmills (water pumps) that pepper the countryside. These windmills were strategically located by our ancestors in wind-prone areas and are now an integral part of the Maltese countryside.

The pre-budget document rightly refers to energy generated through waste. It speaks of the generation of electricity using animal waste through biogas in a facility to be constructed in the north of the island. This is a long overdue initiative. However, I believe that it is badly conceived. The lessons that should have been learnt following the Sant’ Antnin debacle seem to have been forgotten.

The point at issue is whether one facility covering the whole island is sufficient or desirable. Would it be a good idea to transport animal manure across the whole island to a facility in the north?

One point resulting from the public debate relative to the Sant’ Antnin waste recycling plant was the applicability of the proximity principle. The required plant should be sited as close as possible to the source of the waste being processed. This had led to the Sant ‘Antnin projected operation itself being scaled down to deal with one third of the islands’ waste. The rest, it was stated, should be processed on other sites (possibly two) that have not yet been identified! These other sites should be used for the production of biogas too and they should be identified in a location as close as possible to those areas that have the largest number of animal farms in order to minimise the movement of animal waste. Knowing that a number of these farms are sited very close to each other should make matters easier for our waste management planners.

Bad planning brings out another sore point, which was not discussed in the pre-budget document: namely the management of our water resources. Groundwater (a ‘free’ source of freshwater) still accounts for 40 per cent of our potable water supply. Groundwater accounts for the greater part of the water used by agriculture, the construction sector, landscaping activities and various other industrial and commercial concerns, including some hotels which are supplied by bowsers. However, as a result of over-extraction, the quality of the water in the aquifer is becoming saltier by the day and will become useless within our lifetime.

Yet, illegal extraction of ground water continues unabated and the authority responsible for the sustainable use of this precious resource (the Malta Resources Authority) persists in not taking any concrete action. The recent increase in the surcharge on mains water will inevitably result in a rush to drill more boreholes and extract more groundwater, with the consequence that our aquifer will die an earlier death.

Within this context, the construction of wastewater treatment plants treating urban wastewater and discharging it directly into the sea assumes an alarming relevance. A country whose natural water resources are not sufficient for its use ought to manage its water resources in a much better way. It certainly ought not to permit the illegal extraction of water or the discharge of treated water into the sea. The siting of the wastewater treatment plants in Malta and Gozo is such that discharging treated water into the sea is a foregone conclusion. This decision, undoubtedly arrived at based on the original siting of the sewage outfalls, ignores the possibilities to reuse the treated water, either as a second-class source or (with additional treatment) as potable water. Other developed countries, notably Singapore, produce an ever-increasing percentage of their potable water in this manner. This issue is ignored in the pre-budget report.

All this could easily have been prevented with a proper water management planning strategy, which, instead of large-scale plants for wastewater treatment, could have identified a number of smaller sites along the sewer route on the islands for the construction of small packaged wastewater treatment plants. These would have provided ample treated effluent where and when required for agricultural use, landscaping and other uses not requiring water of potable quality – at little or no distribution costs. The widespread availability of this water would have substituted the need to extract groundwater and facilitated the required enforcement action on its illegal extraction.

The total costs would have been substantially less. By costs I do not just mean economic ones but also the ecological cost of losing a strategic resource (the aquifer), which loss will have to be borne by future generations.

As indicated in the public hearings carried out by Minister Tonio Fenech, the pre-budget document deals with the sustainability of localities, rightly linking this issue to the proposed reform of local councils. It refers to the need for localities to draw up a Local Sustainable Development Strategy. In environmental management, we normally consider this within the Local Agenda 21 process currently espoused by thousands of localities around the globe: think global act local.

The sustainable localities proposal is undoubtedly well intentioned, and if adequately planned and applied can lead to positive results. The difficulty that will arise is that of economies of scale. Our localities vary substantially in size: from the largest – Birkirkara, to the smallest – San Lawrenz in Gozo. I believe that the best manner to apply Local Agenda 21 in Malta would be on a regional level. It would entail the setting up an additional level of local government that could be made up of all the local councils in the region. One possibility for the identification of regions would be to follow the boundaries of the seven local plans. These regions could be the channel for drawing up a Local Agenda 21 in conformity with national policy and strategies, which allow ample room for adequate planning. The proposed Conference on Local Sustainable Development would be a good start.

The basic point at issue in all deliberations is to view the economy as a tool at the service of the eco-system rather than as master of all. Adopting sustainable development as a policy instrument is no easy task. It entails taking a holistic view of public administration and its consequences. It signifies that national policy and administrative action need to have a continuous long-term view.

Economic policy generally takes on board social policy. It now needs to ensure that it is subservient to the eco-system because at the end of the day the eco-system is the source of our being. It is only at this point that we will be in a position to settle our country’s accumulated environmental deficit!