Press Release – 9 January 2016

The environment NGOs listed below have discussed Minister Leo Brincat’s invitation to take a seat on the Climate Action Board for although they realise that formally MEPA was not under Minister Brincat’s direct responsibility, they still maintain he has done far too little to ward off the worst excesses afflicting the environment. Minister Brincat’s participation in the three-Minister press conference at Ta’ Barkat to justify the take-up of the original large ODZ site at Zonqor being a case in point.

Similarly, Minister Brincat does not seem overly concerned that the Environment Directorate has not been functioning effectively for the last two years, a fact highlighted repeatedly by the eNGOs. The parliamentary debate on the MEPA separation exposed the hollowness of Government’s commitment to the environment.

However the eNGOs’ final verdict was not decided by these factors even though recent eNGO experience on boards weighed heavily, inevitably outnumbered, generally ignored, forced to watch helplessly the rapid degradation of what passes for environmental protection in Malta: the Zonqor debacle, unnecessary high-rise buildings, illegal songbird trapping with hugely inflated catches permitted, new policies that facilitate building in ODZ, the sidestepping of policies to facilitate reclamation, aiding and abetting criminal acts like the stealing of electricity at illegal boathouse shantytowns, the ongoing Montekristo charade.  Despite all this, the eNGOs came to the conclusion that they would take up the offer of a seat on the Climate Action Board.

That frame of mind favouring cooperation was shattered by the developments regarding the new “Wild Birds” regulations designed to make it easier for hunters and trappers to kill endangered species. These proposals coming from the Ministry with responsibility for Environment and Climate Change actions contradict the very ethos of the said Ministry. They are designed specifically to aid and abet the most uncivilised and lawless practices of our hunters and trappers.  We maintain that this government is hell-bent on appeasing rather than doing the right thing.

The Environment Ministry has lost all credibility due to the hypocrisy of allowing the killing of endangered species on the pretext that they are not protected by the EU. This has been developing for some time through the activities of Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes, who cannot refute the fact that allowing rich hunters to import birds killed in South America will further undermine the survival of species. The increasing rate of extinction of several species is a well-established effect of Climate Change, hence the concern in the COP 21 final document:  The “integrity of all ecosystems” is noted, along with “the imperative of biodiversity protection”.  It should therefore come as no surprise that under such conditions no respectable e-NGO would want to occupy a seat on the Climate Action Board.

The eNGOs will therefore not be taking a place on the Climate Action Board.

Din l-Art Helwa

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar

Friends of the Earth

NatureTrust Malta

Ramblers Association