'Sea level rise should be considered as a global security threat,' Abela warns in COP28

During his speech at the COP28 in Dubai, Abela stated that the world is not just dealing with possible shocking climate events but with an alarming reality

Prime Minister Robert Abela in Dubai
Prime Minister Robert Abela in Dubai

Updated at 4.25pm with Miriam Dalli address

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that science has always been clear about climate change and that sea level rise should be considered as a global security threat.

During his speech at the COP28 in Dubai, Abela stated that the world is not just dealing with possible shocking climate events but with an alarming reality

“Today we are dealing with an alarming reality that some of us have been going through, particularly Mediterranean countries like Malta who have experienced one of the worst summers in recent history,” Abela said.

COP 28 is the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, taking place from 30 November until 12 December 2023.

It is a yearly conference where the world comes together to agree on ways to address the climate crisis, such as limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, helping vulnerable communities adapt to the effects of climate change, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The PM said that the 1.5 degrees Celsius cap on the increase in temperature during COP21 is an ambitious but achievable target.

Abela said that being one of the smallest states, Malta could potentially be one of the worst hit by climate change but stressed that it is working hard to achieve a 55% emission reduction by 2030 from the 1990 levels.

In 2021 Malta had managed to retain a 19% reduction target in carbon emissions for 2030, down from a higher 36% request after talks with the European Commission, as part of the EU’s effort to reduce emissions by 55%.

“Having the lowest gross emission per capita among the EU Member States means that our efforts need to be sturdier,” Abela said.

He said that in the past 10 years Malta reduced our Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the energy sector by 60%, and that the renewable energy share increased from 10MW in 2012 to 230MW in 2021.

The PM said, however, that it is not enough, and that “changes requires reform”.

He mentioned how the Water Services Corporation was one of the first European utility companies to issue green bonds for retail investors, and that in the past four years Malta doubled its contribution to the Green Climate Fund twice.

“As a small island state, I have a clear appeal to all. Sea level rise is a reality and should be considered as a global security threat. It implies that no States should lose any of its rights because of sea level rise,” Abela said.

The PM emphasised that Malta will continue supporting Small Island Developing States and its leadership position in promoting the nexus between Climate Change and Health.

“Let’s join forces and enable humanity to reverse this existential threat,” Abela concluded.

‘No State should lose its rights as a result of sea level rise’ – Miriam Dalli

Environment and Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said that no state should lose any of its existing rights as a result of sea level rise.

During her Ministerial meeting address at COP28, Dalli called upon the international community to recognise the severity of this reality and pledged Malta’s persevering commitment and support to this cause.

“For small island states, like my very own state, the risk of sea level rise is real. The IPPC’s special report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate speaks loud and clear about the alarming prospect of accelerating rise in sea levels over recent years. It even indicates a possible sea level rise of two metres over this century. Being the 10th smallest state in the world and an archipelago means that we are particularly sensitive to this reality,” Dalli said.

“Sea level rise can lead to partial or complete submersion of territories, particularly for small island nations. The displacement of people will inevitably happen. For such islands, it will be even more difficult to maintain a permanent population and a defined territory. The loss of land can impact a state’s ability to exercise sovereignty over its territory, including its maritime jurisdictional zones.”

Dalli also emphasised how Malta has been urging the international community to tackle the impacts of sea level rise on small island states as far back as 1988, when it presented its initiative on climate change at the 43rd session of the UN General Assembly.

The Environment Minister said that this year, as an elected member on the UN Security Council, Malta highlighted the climate-ocean-security nexus with a signature event on the impacts of sea level rise on international peace and security.