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Maltese local councils join the fight against Trump’s climate move

US President Donald Trump said recently he would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump said recently he would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. Photo: Reuters

Twenty-four Maltese local councils have joined a major international coalition of cities aiming to fight climate change through local initiatives.

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which met for the first time on Tuesday in Brussels, brings together more than 7,400 cities around the world with a combined population of nearly 700 million.

Forming part of the initiative are: Għarb, Għajnsielem, Għaxaq, Iklin, Senglea, Kalkara, Kirkop, Marsascala, Mdina, Mellieħa, Pembroke, Qala, Qormi, Qrendi, Rabat, St Julian’s, Santa Luċija, Swieqi, Ta’ Xbiex, Xagħra, Xewkija, Dingli, Għargħur and Tarxien.

The inaugural meeting in Brussels took on added significance after US President Donald Trump announced recently he would be withdrawing from the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.

More than 300 mayors of US cities are members of the Global Covenant and have pledged to continue climate change efforts in line with the Paris Agreement despite the country’s withdrawal.

European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, who co-chairs the initiative, called on all cities to join the “unprecedented global movement”, describing cities as “an agent of change” because the impact of climate change is most significant on localities. One of the first objectives is to introduce comparable data standards, grounded in the Paris Agreement, to measure the direct impact of climate change and help cities learn from each other on effective measures to reduce emissions and increase local access to clean energy.

Mayors have also undertaken commitments which Mr Šefčovič said could potentially lead to an annual reduction of nearly one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions overall by 2030.

Malta has made significant progress in tackling emissions in recent years, cutting its total by nearly a quarter in 2015, the largest reduction in the EU that year, and followed up with a further 18 per cent drop last year.

Slower progress has been registered on renewable energy, where Malta is obliged to increase its share to 10 per cent over the next three years.

A Commission report in 2015 concluded that the island was among those countries unlikely to reach its 2020 targets but the government insists Malta is well on its way to meeting the targets.

A revised National Renewable Energy Action Plan was published late last year, with a focus on increasing solar energy generation to 4.7 per cent of all output.

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