A new study aims to calculate Malta’s carbon footprint as the island lags behind on meeting its emissions reduction targets, the Times of Malta has learnt.

The study, which started in recent weeks and is being conducted by a team of international consultants, will seek to build a carbon map of the island, including its economy.

This, government sources said, would be used to draft recommendations on reducing the emissions generated by the country’s different economic sectors.

Malta’s carbon dioxide emissions registered the largest increase in all of the European Union in 2017, according to the latest Eurostat data. They rose by an estimated 12.8 per cent – significantly higher than the 11.3 per cent estimated increase in CO2 emissions in Estonia or 8.3 per cent in Bulgaria, and exponentially greater than the EU average increase of just 1.8 per cent. 

Malta’s poor performance on the EU’s CO2 emissions chart represents a dramatic reversal from the previous year’s results, when Malta’s estimated emissions fell by an EU-topping 26.9 per cent. 

Targets have so far proven difficult to reach

That, the government believes, was in large part due to the closure of the Marsa power station. 

The sources said the footprint study would help form the basis of the government’s 2050 emission reduction plan.

Read: Malta's meat diet pushes up carbon footprint

International reduction targets set by the EU have so far proven difficult to reach. The Europe 2020 strategy, adopted by the European Council in June 2010, is the European Union’s agenda for jobs and growth for the current decade. As a main objective, the strategy strives to push member states to reduce their impact on the natural environment.

One of the most stubborn targets for Malta to meet is its greenhouse gas emissions, which increased by 20.3 per cent between 1990 and 2016, with the target increase set at no more than a modest five per cent.

In fact, according to the latest European Commission report on the subject, Malta will likely fail to meet binding greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2020, due to its ever increasing traffic.

Read: Calculate your carbon footprint

According to the Third Report on the State of the Energy Union, though Malta has made significant progress to increase its share of renewable energy, particularly through photovoltaic panels installed on private residences, the emissions caused by transport have run out of control and reversed the progress made in the energy sector.

Environment Minister José Herrera has said that Malta so far has failed to reach European Union-established carbon emission reduction targets because the original targets negotiated were “overambitious”.

The original targets, Dr Herrera said, failed to take into account the fact that Malta’s was a service-based economy and therefore had little highly pollutive heavy industry, which it was able shut down or upgrade to cut carbon dioxide emissions. 

Environmentalists, however, have said that irrespective of formulas and targets, additional work still needed to be done to clean up the air.

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