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KSU questions eNGOs refusal to sit on Climate Action Board

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KSU questions eNGOs refusal to sit on Climate Action BoardUpdate: Kaccaturi San Ubertu KSU, in a statement this afternoon said that it “notes the extremism of certain environment organisations in refusing to participate on the Climate Action Board.”

KSU was referring to the five NGOs who turned down Environment Minister Leo Brincat’s invitation to sit on the Government board are Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth, NatureTrust, and Ramblers Association.

KSU said that, “if indeed such organisations have what to offer to Maltese society they would not be turning down this opportunity to put their words in action for the benefit of Maltese society.”

The KSU stated that “citing local issues mainly related to their interpretation of hunting they dismally fail to recognise their involvement was requested in a matter of international concern where globally, serious foreign organisations have contributed unconditionally.”

KSU concluded by saying that it “trusts they will reconsider their stand for the benefit of their credibility.”

Earlier today environment organisations in a joint statement, said that they will be refusing Minister Leo Brincat’s invitation to take a seat on the Climate Action Board, as a sign of protest at the “Government’s lack of commitment to environmental priorities.”

“Although the eNGOs (Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth, NatureTrust Malta, Ramblers Association) realise that formally MEPA was not under Minister Brincat’s direct responsibility, they still maintain he has done far too little to ward off the worst excesses afflicting the environment,” the statement said.

“Minister Brincat’s participation in the three-Minister press conference at Ta’ Barkat to justify the take-up of the original large ODZ site at Zonqor is a case in point. Similarly, Minister Brincat does not seem overly concerned that the Environment Directorate has not been functioning effectively for the last two years, a fact highlighted repeatedly by the eNGOs. The parliamentary debate on the MEPA separation completely exposed the hollowness of Government’s commitment to the environment.”

However the eNGOs’ final verdict was not decided by these factors, the statement said, even though recent eNGO experience on boards weighed heavily as they were “inevitably outnumbered, generally ignored and forced to helplessly watch the rapid degradation of what passes for environmental protection in Malta: the Zonqor debacle, unnecessary high-rise buildings, illegal songbird trapping with hugely inflated catches permitted, new policies that facilitate building in ODZ, the sidestepping of policies to facilitate reclamation, aiding and abetting criminal acts like the stealing of electricity at illegal boathouse shantytowns and the ongoing Montekristo charade.”

Despite all this, the eNGOs said that they had come to the conclusion that they would take up the offer of a seat on the Climate Action Board.

“That frame of mind favouring cooperation was shattered by the developments regarding the new “Wild Birds” regulations, designed to facilitate hunters’ and trappers’ killing of endangered species,” they said.

“These proposals coming from the Ministry with responsibility for Environment and Climate Change actions contradict the very ethos of the said Ministry. They are designed specifically to aid and abet the most uncivilised and lawless practices of some hunters and trappers. We maintain that this Government is hell-bent on appeasing rather than doing the right thing, said the eNGOs.

“The hypocrisy of allowing the killing of endangered species on the pretext that they are not protected by the EU has caused the Environment Ministry to lose all credibility. This loss has been developing for some time through the activities of Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes; but not even he can refute the fact that allowing rich hunters to import birds killed in South America or Egypt will further undermine the survival of species.”

The statement continued by saying that the “increasing rate of extinction of several species is a well-established effect of Climate Change, hence the concern in the COP 21 final document: The “integrity of all ecosystems” is noted, along with “the imperative of biodiversity protection”. It should therefore come as no surprise that under such conditions no respectable eNGO would want to occupy a seat on the Climate Action Board.”

The eNGOs will therefore not be taking up the offer of a place on the Climate Action Board, the joint statement concluded.

Government statement:

The Government has referred to the decision of some environmental organisations not to be represented on the Climate Action Board.

“It must be stated that the legal notice referred to is only a draft of the consultation process which was already planned with other consultations in the coming days. The Government has already countered the arguments made today in a statement which was issued on the 22nd of December, and maintains that these amendments aim to strengthen and not weaken regulations and enforcement on the conservation of birds.”

“While the Government believes that this is a unique opportunity for environmental organisations to oversee the efforts of our country and offer practical suggestions to the Government in carrying out its policy on climate, the Government remains open as always for discussions with all stakeholders,” it said. “The invitation to participate on the Climate Action Board will continue.”

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