Transport is one of Malta’s main environmental challenges

Photo credit: MSDEC. Family photo at the Informal Council Meeting of the EU Environment Ministers.

When addressing an informal Council Meeting of European Transport and Environment Ministers in Amsterdam organised by the Netherlands Presidency, which together with Slovakia and Malta forms part of the EU Presidency Trio, Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change Leo Brincat said that transport is one of Malta’s main environmental challenges, particularly since we are committed to keeping transport emissions at not more than 5% above 2005 levels under the EU 2030 Effort Sharing Decision.

Minister Brincat said that the recent EU Commission Country Report for Malta 2015 identifies transport and related infrastructure as a major challenge with regards to our sustainable economic growth.

When addressing the Informal Council Meeting on the Environment on Green Mobility Minister Brincat said that, apart from the greening of road transportation being an essential policy option that is expected to contribute to both climate change mitigation and adaptation, it also poses various environmental health challenges that need to be addressed in the coming years.

Minister Brincat said that while Malta looks forward to the expected communication from the EU on the decarbonisation of transport, efforts need to be continuously stepped up to ensure that road transport as a sector, plays an important role in the enhancement of our air quality standards.

For this reason we need greener, more efficient vehicles and fuels coupled with more effective vehicle emission standards tests.

Malta has one of the highest motorisation rates of passenger cars in the EU. In 2013 this stood at 763 per 1,000 residents. This together with the small country size and high urban density presents a daunting challenge.

“Increased efforts are needed to increase social consciousness and responsibility to shift towards greener modes of transport. This would require enhancing cooperation between citizens and key stakeholders in order to identify balanced and equitable actions appropriate for the different context in which we are operating,” said Minister Brincat.

Experience elsewhere has shown that reducing CO2 emissions does not guarantee a commensurate reduction in particulate matter.

Our Air Quality Plan which is nearing finalisation will stand to be judged by how much it can effectively lead to an actual reduction of high traffic congestions, as well as the promotion of smart and sustainable mobility and public services.

In Amsterdam Minister Brincat together with other Ministers visited The Innovation EXPO 2016 that showcases how the Netherlands have been instrumental in making a sustainable urban delta. It has been organised by the ‘quintuple helix’ of the Dutch business community, the scientific community, civil society, media and the public sector. Its main areas of interest are: Building the City, Healthy Living and Connecting People (Mobility).