[WATCH] Malta can be the flag-bearer for climate change in the Mediterranean, Jason Azzopardi says

Environment Minister José Herrera warned that Malta's action on climate change needed to be approached with measure and caution so the economy would not be hit as a result

Environment minister José Herrera, shadow environment minister Jason Azzopardi and Extinction Rebellion's Christian Pace on Xtra
Environment minister José Herrera, shadow environment minister Jason Azzopardi and Extinction Rebellion's Christian Pace on Xtra

Malta could genuinely be the flag-bearer for climate change action in the Mediterranean, Nationalist MP and environment shadow minister Jason Azzopardi said.

"When was the last time that Malta was mentioned in a positive light in the news? I don't want Malta to be mentioned in terms of money laundering and corruption anymore," Azzopardi said.

Asked about how tiny Malta could contribute to tackling a global emergency, Azzopardi said that back in 1967 Malta had come up with the concept of resources on the ocean floor being declared a common heritage of mankind and that in 1988, Malta convinced the United Nations that climate change is a common concern of mankind.

"I genuinely believe that my country can take the initiative and become the flag-bearer for climate change action so that the Mediterranean becomes an Emission Control Area," Azzopardi said, speaking on TVM's Xtra.

Environment minister José Herrera said that while that was a very noble and positive amibition, it wasn't that easy. 

"My colleague is talking about sulphur emission control areas here, which is an initiative being pushed by the Italian environment minister. My believe is that if we are to adopt this initiative, the entire Mediterranean has to do so as well, otherwise, if we're on our own, ships will port elsewhere and our economy takes a hit. We don't want to destroy the economy," Herrera said, adding that in such matters, politicians ought to have their feet firmly on the ground.

Herrera said that Malta had already been a game-changer in some respects on the topic of climate change since Malta was amongst the first countries to regulate climate change with a law passed in 2016 and one of the few countries who had appointed an ambassador solely responsible for climate change.

The parliament recently endorsed a motion tabled by the Opposition to declare a climate emergency. 

Extinction Rebellion's Christian Pace said that in the 70s Malta was the first country to regularise maritime affairs and that recently it had been a pioneer in terms of civil rights. There's no reason, he said, why Malta couldn't influence other nations on climate change as well.

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