11 proposals to improve air quality

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

28 medical and environmental organisations have put forward a set of proposals containing measures which could improve local air quality.

In a joint statement on Saturday, the organisations quoted a report issued earlier this month by the Centre of Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) which showed that 11,000 deaths in Europe were avoided due to less consumption of fossil fuel during the coronavirus pandemic which brought many countries to a standstill.

The organisations highlighted that from recent studies, it transpired that on average more than 500 people die prematurely every year due to air pollution alone. A 2017 Eurostat study had shown that Maltese citizens suffered the most due to their exposure to pollution.

In Malta, the authorities implemented a partial lockdown in a bid to contain the local spread of the virus. This could have led to the drastic decline in air pollution, the NGOs said.

In their statement the organisations recommended the following measures to be implemented and to persist even after the end of the pandemic:

  • taking interlinked health hazards – air and noise pollution, mental health and the obesity pandemic as seriously as the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • introducing better incentives for renewable energy sources and cleaner means of transport
  • making green areas accessible to all members of the public
  • combining work and tutorship from home with conventional methods whenever possible to decrease unnecessary commuting and related emissions
  • building better and safer infrastructure for both pedestrians and users of bicycles and similar means of transport
  • investing in improved public transport with possible addition of other transport means
  • providing better measures and infrastructure for shared and public transportation
  • creating larger permanent pedestrian zones in village cores and towns and ensuring the long-term implementation of plans recently mentioned by Government
  • ensuring full and timely implementation of the National Air Pollution Control Programme
  • establishing an Emission Control Area (ECA) in our seas to decrease seacraft emissions
  • introducing measures tackling IT illiteracy in all age groups since both public and private services are now more dependent on digitalisation.

The organisations urged the public to approach their elected representatives on the issue in order to lobby for better air quality which would target one of the biggest avoidable health risks amongst us.

The joint press release was signed by the following organisations: Association of Anaesthesiologists of Malta (AAM), Association of Private Family Doctors (APFD), Association of Surgeons of Malta (ASM), Attard Residents Environmental Network (AREN), Bicycle Advocacy Group (BAG), Birdlife Malta, Creating A Positive Environmentally Resourceful Society (CAPERS), Din l-Art Ħelwa (DLĦ), Extinction Rebellion, Family Medicine Trainees Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA), Friends of the Earth Malta, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Geriatric Medicine Society of Malta (GMSM), Green House, IRMCo – Integrated Resources Management, Malta Association of Psychiatric Trainees (MAPT), Malta Association of Psychiatry (MAP), Malta Association of Public Health Medicine (MAPHM), Malta Medical Students’ Association (MMSA), Malta Obesity Association, Maltese Association of Dermatology and Venereology (MADV), Maltese Association of Radiologists and Nuclear Medicine Physicians (MARNMP), Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust – FEE Malta, Ramblers’ Association of Malta, The Archaeological Society Malta (ASM) and Żminijietna – Voice of the Left.