Malta only member state not on track to reach EU’s 2020 climate and energy obligations
Report shows failures of Nationalist Government – OPM
Malta is the only EU member state which is not on track to achieve its targets in all three areas of the EU’s Climate and Energy 2020 directive, namely on greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewables and energy efficiency. This has been published in the 2016 edition of the European Environment Agency (EEA) Trends and Projections in Europe report. It’s the first time ever a member state has fallen behind in all three areas of analysis.
The report says that the country is not on track to meet its energy efficiency targets, its renewable energy targets, as well as its greenhouse gas emissions target under the Effort Sharing Decision. The report has put this down to a “lack of ambition with regard to reducing or limiting their energy consumption”. The 2016 edition of the annual EEA report provides an updated assessment of the progress of the EU and European countries towards their climate mitigation and energy targets. The colours in the 2014 GHG emission graph indicate whether countries are considered on track or not towards their 2020 climate and energy targets. In the case of Malta, for greenhouse gases, orange means that 2014 emissions covered by the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) were above the 2014 national ESD target. For renewable energy, yellow shows that the 2014 RES share was below the indicative level from the national action plan from 2010. For energy efficiency, orange denotes the 2014 consumption in primary energy was above a linear indicative trajectory between the 2005 level and the 2020 national target.
Speaking to The Malta Independent, a spokesperson for the Ministry within the Office of the Prime Minister, said that the figures are based on data for 2014 and does not reflect the current situation. The report uses official data to look at the progress of member states towards their individual objectives for 2020. Whilst, it is true that the report is mainly based on national data on GHG emissions, renewable energy and energy consumption for 2014, it also uses preliminary data from 2015, projections reported by member states concerning expected trends in GHG emissions until 2035.
The spokesperson then claimed that the country has in fact made significant strides since 2014, pointing to the recent launch of the Updated National Renewable Energy Action Plan, which he says offers a pragmatic and realistic approach to reaching the 2020 targets.
It was also said that Malta has met and exceeded all trajectory targets for renewable energy. The spokesperson claimed that the average renewable energy share from gross final consumption for years 2013 and 2014 was 4.2%, which is higher than Malta’s minimum trajectory, which was set at 3.0% for these years. Whilst, what has been claimed may be factually correct, it raises the question as to why the EEA (an EU agency) would publish incorrect figures, even though they based their figures on official data. With regards to energy efficiency, the spokesperson said that this was due to the fact that the Marsa Power Station was still operational, thus meaning Malta’s primary energy efficiency was “very poor”. He then said that the EEA report is based on the pre-2014 situation in Malta; which is a further testimony to the Nationalist government’s failure on energy and climate affairs despite charging the highest rates of electricity to both domestic and commercial customers (in spite of a lower than average GDP per capita). The old generation technologies were not in compliance with the environmental regulations at a European level, he claimed, and that the new generation mix is bound to lead to significant improvements to air quality as expected from the use of natural gas. This, he said, together with the efficient use of fuel that is expected of a Combined Cycle Generation Plant, will render it suitable for the government of Malta to be in a position to reach its 2020 targets and beyond. However, the spokesperson did not guarantee that the country would actually reach these targets. The report finds that overall, the EU is well on track to meet its climate and energy targets for 2020, with 17 member states currently on track to deliver on their national targets in all three areas. This is an improvement for the 2014 report when the figure was 13.
According to preliminary estimates in the report, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions slightly increased in 2015. These increases follow large reductions in 2014, due to an exceptionally warm winter that year, which was responsible for particularly low energy demand for heating. The report said that government policies were playing an important role in driving the overall EU trends observed since 2005, in particular through a continued increase in renewable energy use. However, the transport sector in general is a laggard, both in terms of reducing GHG emissions and achieving the 10% sectoral target for renewables by 2020.