The environment and its protection has always been a top priority for The British High Commissioner Louise Stanton, in all the work she seeks to fulfil in Malta.Here, she talks to OUTLOOK about the varied collaborative initiatives undertaken between the High Commission and a number of stakeholders in Malta.
As some of your readers will know, I have a strong personal interest in the environment. I believe it is vital for all of us to protect the resources available to us to ensure that they remain available to future generations, and I am proud of the work the High Commission has been able to undertake in partnership with the Government of Malta.
For example, when the Government launched an initiative to stop the widespread use of plastic bags by shops, at the first Queen’s Birthday Party I hosted here we distributed reusable shopping bags to our guests to encourage them in their new shopping habits. In addition, we have ensured that the annual Queen’s Birthday Party is carbon neutral by working with Tree 4 U to plant trees.
It’s interesting that in Malta the initiative on reducing the use of plastic bags came from the Government, whereas in the UK, the move away from plastic bags was largely consumer driven. I think that the most effective way we can work with Malta on environmental issues therefore is to help raise awareness. For example, last year we funded a visit to Malta by Dr Steve Smith, an expert on the EU Strategic Environmental Awareness Directive who spoke at a conference organised by the Office of the Prime Minister on this subject.
In co-operation with the Times of Malta, we also published the Four Degree Map, a map designed by the UK’s Hadley Centre showing the impact that a four degree rise in temperature would have on each part of the globe – Malta would suffer from severe drought, making the current population virtually unsustainable. Populations would move on a mass scale, as the equatorial regions of the planet turn to desert, having huge political and socio-economic consequences. Everyone needs to be aware that climate change will impact each one of us, if we don’t do something to stop it – individual actions can add up to a lot collectively.
With the support of the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs and Ministry for Education we also distributed schools packs of the documentary-drama Age of Stupid to all secondary schools, and copies of the Age of Stupid DVD to all tertiary education institutions in Malta and Gozo. Age Of Stupid is a British film which stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, watching archive footage from the mid-to-late 2000s and asking "Why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?"
Finally, recognizing that Malta’s geophysics represents a significant challenge to meeting the EU 2020 targets on renewables, in September last year we arranged a visit for the Maltese Government to the Beatrice deepwater wind farm project in Scotland to see a British renewable energy project in operation. Although the British High Commission in Malta is a small team, I hope that by working in partnership with the Government and people of Malta, we can do our bit too.