EU draws bleak picture of Malta’s climate change preparations

The European Commission (EC) painted a bleak picture of how much Malta is prepared for the effects of climate change. In a report published last week the EC could not identify any major infrastructural sector that includes needed adaptations for climate change.

Malta lacks resources “relating to climate adaptation in infrastructure sectors, other than the water sector,” according to a European Commission report. The Cost-Benefit Analysis approach taken “does possess limitation” in terms of “formal guidance on financial, economic or social impacts, and is not specific to climate change adaptation.”

The Commission’s report on ‘Climate change adaptation of major infrastructural projects’ focuses on Malta’s infrastructural projects in terms of climate change vulnerability and risk assessments.

Specific focus was given to ‘The EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change’ which in 2013 gave “actions to enhance the resilience of infrastructure and mainstream climate adaptation into the European regional and cohesion policy.” The 8 Actions include encouraging all Member States to adopt comprehensive adaptation strategies, as well as bridging the knowledge gap, and ensuring more resilient infrastructure.

Sector Overview

An overview of Maltese infrastructure per sector painted a bleak picture in terms of climate change preparation with the same descriptor being used for the Road Infrastructure, Broadband, Urban Development and Energy sectors: “no known sector resources that include climate adaptation were identified, or suggested by the interviewed national authorities.”

A slight variant was used to describe the Airport as well, with the report pointing out that “no specific strategy on making the airport climate resilient were retrieved from desk study or interviews”. However, the Waste sector is promising with National Design Standards by the ERA for the construction of landfills including “the consideration of temperature, precipitation extremes and flooding where relevant.”

On a more positive note, when it comes to the Water Sector, the ‘Water Catchment Management Plan for the Maltese Islands’ published by the Environment and Planning Authority in 2010 gives guidelines to good practice. 27 water-related measures also established targets for the authorities, although the report pointed out that “few targets have been fully or partially met e.g. the water recovery from sewage target”. Projects were said to sometimes “meet roadblocks” such as the price of groundwater serving to delay progress.

Resources

When it came to resources, there are a number of portals to find information regarding climate change and policy, but the report pointed out that there is no central portal. The methodology of Cost-Benefit Analysis meanwhile “does possess limitations however, in that it provides no formal guidance on financial, economic or social impacts, and it is not specific to climate change adaptation.”

When it came to Human Resources, despite Malta’s clear attention to the Water sector, Water Recovery/Recycling Consulting Company, Sustech Consulting pointed out that there are “only a handful of hydrologists nationally; not enough to cater for the climate change challenges the sector is facing”. This was explained by a lack of national university courses, however, the University of Malta expressed its intent to set up a Centre of Excellence in Climate Change Research as part of the National Research and Innovation Strategy 2020.