‘Don't subsidise energy to those who afford to pay’: Greens sound warning on €1.5 million daily spend

ADPD says that government’s policy to grant energy subsidies to all was unsustainable, and that it encouraged waste

ADPD-The Green Party held a press conference at Castille square on Saturday (Photo:ADPD)
ADPD-The Green Party held a press conference at Castille square on Saturday (Photo:ADPD)

ADPD - The Green Party said that the energy subsidies that amount to €1.5 million daily were unsustainable and that those that afford high prices should not receive any aid.

During a press conference in Castille square on Saturday morning, ADPD Secretary General Ralph Cassar said due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the energy sector was facing uncertainty, and that there is a fear that energy prices will continue to rise “astronomically”.

“What's sure is that prices will remain very volatile. It is within this context that Malta’s dependency on the energy obtained through the interconnector from Sicily needs to be reconsidered,” Cassar said.

He stated that government’s policy to grant a subsidy over electricity charges to all was not sustainable, and that it encouraged waste and failed to promote the use of sustainable alternatives.

“While it is prudent – indeed necessary – to assist those with low and medium incomes in connection with the basic consumption needed, this aid should not be granted to those who can afford the prices closer to the actual prices it is costing the country,” Cassar emphasised.
He noted that government was currently subsidising energy and fuel at €1.5 million daily. Cassar argued that this expenditure should have been applied in the past in renewable energy investment.

“Instead of dragging of feet that we have got used too, this would have reduced substantially our country’s dependence on the energy imports over the interconnector.”

According to Cassar up to the end of 2022, €472.5 million have been paid out in energy and food subsidies and another €608 million are expected to be spent this year.

“Some of these funds would have been better applied towards moving from our dependency on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources instead. Thanks to these subsidies, government is simply delaying facing up to the real issues. But these will remain and one day or another will need to be faced,” concluded Cassar.

ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that successive governments repeatedly postponed investment in renewable energy, even negotiating with the European Union to reduce the obligation to generate 20% of energy needs from renewable sources to 10% by 2020.

“When it comes to electricity, the other parties talk only about the interconnector as if this is our only saviour while little is said about the need to reduce our energy consumption. Our dependency on the interconnector is going to increase further with the second one being planned,” Cacopardo said.

“It is imperative that those who use energy with abandon pay its full cost. We need to increase the investment in new renewable energy infrastructure.”

The ADPD Chairman said that an example of the lack of commitment by the government to take action was the campaign for efficient use of energy in industry and business.

He emphasised that this campaign was just a “press conference” with “no targets, no incentives or disincentives or penalties to encourage targets to be attained.”

He said that a commercial price for higher consumption might be used as a tool to reduce waste of energy.

Cacopardo argued that industries that left major environmental impacts such as tourism and construction, should be duty bound to change their operations in order to achieve the target of reducing the global temperature rise to under 1.5°C.

"The target of 5 million tourists per year is also being mentioned. This is pure madness. The point is whether these numbers are sustainable. This is an argument that has been going on even when the numbers were much smaller. The debate was, and should continue to be, about whether we should focus more on quality than on quantity,” Cacopardo said.

Cacopardo said that the time had come to stop building more hotels and withdraw the policy which allowed hoteliers to add floors to existing hotels.

He added that the construction industry needed to be resized and that every new building had to generate the electricity it consumes from renewable sources, and have the highest standards of energy efficiency.

“Ultimately all aid granted to companies from time to time should be conditional on the operational changes required to eliminate their impact on the climate. We need a robust commitment to transition to a green and circular economy,” concluded Cacopardo.