Youths corroborate Opposition’s climate change motion; government lukewarm

Environmental activists block traffic as part of protests seeking to pressure U.S. politicians to fight climate change in Washington, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Thirty-one youth organisations, led by the National Youth Council and including groups such as the Scouts, the LGBTIQ+ and the Malta Medical Students Association, have come together to corroborate the motion on climate change tabled as a private members motion by the parliamentary opposition.  This block action, deemed by the organisations as a ‘parallel motion’ to the events in the House of Representatives, was in direct contrast to what was described as the, at best, lukewarm approach adopted by government in its counter motion.

The motion, spearheaded by PN members Jason Azzopardi, Robert Cutajar, David Agius and Frederick Azzopardi, proposes the setting up of a parliamentary committee to address the climate emergency. This committee would have the responsibility of piloting climate change and environmental initiatives. This was robustly endorsed by the youth organisations who said that they “strongly believed that the future of youth, of the country and of the world is in danger because of the challenges posed by climate change. Therefore, we need to work together, on an individual, group as well as corporate level, to improve the current situation”.

The youth organisations appealed to all MPs to overcome their partisan viewpoints and look towards the good of the present and future generations. “We want our country to, once again, lead by example in this sphere” declared the organisations.

Watered down counter-motion

In contrast, the government counter motion watered down the emergency aspect considerably. The opposition motion, backed by the 31 youth organisations states that, among other things, that global warming has surpassed the 2 degrees Celsius in post-Industrial times, leading to mass migration, loss of coral reefs and the exposure of several millions to dangerous levels of heat stress. Government on the other hand says that the international reports on climate change show ‘in the clearest manner’ that the current global actions will still lead to a further increase in global temperatures.

Moreover, in the counter-motion, government ‘notes’ among other things, the EU emission trading scheme, the setting up of an agency which recovers and recycles waste as well as the official statistics on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Observers noted to that the use of the word ‘notes’ rather than the more assertive ‘declares’ is diplomatic water-down. The setting up of the suggested parliamentary committee was not backed in the counter-motion which, instead, lists government initiatives and proposals.