2020 was one of the warmest years on record, and last Saturday the temperature locally was the warmest ever recorded for January. Climate change, although denied by many, is real, and is mostly caused by human actions.
David Attenborough’s film, “Life on Our Planet” gives a good overview of the harmful practices which are destroying our world, and has some grim predictions for the future, should humanity keep on disregarding nature in favour of selfish decisions. This would be heartbreaking, not only for the millions of other species with which we share the world but also for humanity itself which cannot thrive in an uninhabitable planet.
Given the scale of all this, one would tend to ignore the impact one small island can have on the climate of the whole planet. However, as a small country, we are better positioned to bring about the necessary change and serve as an example to other nations.
Malta’s plan to reach carbon-neutrality by 2050 was mentioned several times in October’s budget speech. However, few concrete policies were introduced to make this possible. The ban of single-use plastics as of 2021 is a step forward which should be applauded as a measure to protect our seas and to diminish the effect of climate change.
Still, this is not enough. One of the major issues which the Maltese have to work on is the over-dependency on private cars as a means of transportation. Although the introduction of grants to incentivise the buying of electric vehicles is appreciated, more should be done to discourage the use of private transportation in favour of viable and efficient mass transportation.
The continuous building and expansion of our road network are working in the other direction. The government should be doing more to discourage the use of private vehicles. The increase of traffic, apart from the obvious adverse effects on our health, is increasingly leading to a loss of biodiversity and the natural environment.
One other aspect which we need to urgently consider is the importance of education with respect to consumption and the art of looking beyond short-sighted resolutions. Our consumption patterns have meant that we’re growing out of landfill space very quickly. One also needs to consider the carbon footprint of anything we consume.
One hopes that last week’s relatively warm temperatures serve as an urgent reminder that we need to act now and we need to do it fast. This might be our last chance to save our common home, let’s not lose it.