Times of Malta, 12th September 2008, by Ivan Camilleri in Brussels –

The majority of Maltese people consider climate change and global warming as the most serious problem facing the planet and feel the government is not doing enough to face this problem, a new European Union study shows.

However, the survey found that the Maltese are not willing to fork out more money on environment-friendly energy.

The results of the survey, conducted in Malta by Misco last April among a scientific sample of 500 citizens, were published in Brussels yesterday.

Asked to rank the most serious problems facing the planet, 64 per cent of Maltese respondents mentioned climate change and global warming followed by international terrorism, raised by 62 per cent of respondents.

The overwhelming majority of respondents think that the government is still not doing enough to address climate change and another 11 per cent refused to answer. Twenty-eight per cent of respondents said they believe the government is addressing the problem.

On the other hand, the survey shows that the Maltese have more trust in the efforts being done by the European Union. Forty-three per cent of respondents said the EU seems to be doing enough and 41 per cent want more to be done.

The EU last year decided to set a strategy so that by 2020 all its member states will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent, increase the amount of biofuels used for transport to a minimum of 10 per cent and increase energy deriving from renewable resources. Malta’s target in this area has been set at 10 per cent by 2020, bearing in mind that at the moment the island produces the lowest level of renewable energy in the EU.

Energy costs seem also to be on the mind of many Maltese. When asked if they are doing anything in order to contribute towards mitigating climate change, most said they were reducing electricity and water consumption. Only a few said they would be disposed to pay more for cleaner energy.

Thirty-six per cent of those approached said they are not prepared to pay more for cleaner energy and another 27 per cent did not answer. Eleven per cent said they would be ready to pay more but only if such an increase does not exceed five per cent.

On a general level, the concerns expressed by Maltese respondents reflect the general trend in the EU.

According to the Eurobarometer survey, three-quarters of EU citizens take the problem of climate change very seriously although poverty scores higher at an EU level. At the same time, a substantial majority of Europeans consider the EU’s targets on greenhouse gases and renewable energy to be about right or too modest.