‘Environmental transition can be turned into greatest economic opportunity of our generation’ – PM

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 February, 2024 at 8:34 am by Andre Camilleri

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the environmental transition underway can be turned into the greatest economic opportunity of the current generation, if the right decisions are made.

Abela addressed Parliament on Wednesday during the debate of the Climate Action Bill, which proposes the establishment of the first Climate Change Authority.

Abela described this action as a significant sign of committed and robust government action on climate change, with Malta being at the forefront of implementing a strong and just environmental politics.

He said that this authority would undertake comprehensive work, with a holistic vision and social dialogue involving everyone to bring about change.

“We need to make changes in the most just way possible to continue progressing together towards a better quality of life,” Abela said.

He said that everyone needs to believe in the necessary changes and implement them.

“If we engage in partisanship and delay decisions, we would be failing future generations,” Abela said, stressing that if changes are not made, everyone will suffer.

He noted that climate change is a reality, and the country needs to be proactive regardless of its size, with its environmental policy being based on prevention.

Abela said that for a long time, environmental politics in the country has been a reactive one, which responds to environmental challenges after the damage was already done.

The Prime Minister said that the environment was put at the centre of government’s priorities for the country’s recovery after the pandemic. The discussion on the environment must also not be limited exclusively to land use and development, but involves environmental transition and changes to economic and social life.

He continued that the establishment of the Climate Change Authority builds upon other significant changes already underway, such as the transformation towards cleaner energy use, actions to reduce the impact of tourism and commercial shipping emissions, recycling projects, and turning waste into a resource and energy source.

He also highlighted the direction towards more green investments with the issuance of green bonds and the implementation of larger open-space projects.

Abela continued that the environmental transition is the greatest economic opportunity of the generation.

He said that above all, this transition needs to be kept centred on families.

“The government will never impose the burden of changes on people. We will take necessary decisions,” Abela promised, making it clear that this message will also be delivered strongly in the European fora.

Abela said that environmental security cannot be created if people’s economic security is neglected.

The Prime Minister also warned against populism, noting how the Opposition opposed reforms introduced by the Government, such as when the country moved to ban the sale of single-use plastic products. He said that populism does not offer solutions.

Abela called for collective effort and changes in mentality, believing that changes made with good decisions can bring about the creation of new jobs, resource efficiency, and access to new markets, among others, to ensure continued economic growth and social support in the face of climate challenges.

He emphasised that in the face of these changes, children and young people must have a say in decisions, which is why the government has scheduled meetings with them through the Youth Advisory Forum.

Abela said that Malta is a country that does not fear change because it can turn it into an opportunity for success. He stressed that the proposed law is not just a written document but a government commitment to social and economic change.

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