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Students propose concrete actions to combat climate change

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Students propose concrete actions to combat climate changeThe House of Representatives, this week welcomed 84 students from 42 schools during the 2016 session of the EkoSkola Parliament, which is now in its 12th edition.

A number of MPs from both sides of the House were present, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

During the session the young students had the opportunity to meet face to face with the country's policy makers to propose concrete actions to combat climate change.

The session was a follow up to the 6th EkoSkola Young People's Summit – We Care About Our Future held on 26 April 2016 in collaboration with MEUSAC, the European Commission Representation in Malta and the Climate Action Board whereby a declaration on Climate Change was drawn up.

The event was organised by Nature Trust (Malta), the local representatives of FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) who run the EkoSkola programme, and was held under the auspices of the Office of the Speaker.

This year's theme choice was spurred by the agreement approved by the 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of the Climate Change (UNFCCC) in COP21 in Paris late last year. By way of this agreement, all countries pledged to work to limit the temperature rise overall below 2 degrees Celsius, but are aiming to achieve a temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

At the start of the session the students read out a motion calling on MPs to endorse and act upon the recommendations which were set out in the motion.

During the session a number of interventions were made by the young participants, as well as MPs from both sides of the House who were present for the event.The motion presented by the students was approved unanimously at the end of the session

The students made various suggestions during the session, such as that in rush hours, the public transport service should be free of charge, electric-powered buses introduced, controls on the amount of cars purchased by each family imposed, have more government services handled by local councils to avoid people the burden to travel outside their locality, obtain a driving licence at a later stage and not at 18, subsidise school transport, and have road works done at night.

Dr Muscat said that it is not always possible to have road works done at night due to the noise emitted which could cause an inconvenience to residents at times. However, he said that a balance needs to be struck.

Dr Muscat welcomed the fact that students mentioned government services and that they should be made more easily available. He said that the government is now introducing services on our mobile phones to make things easier while pointing out that this step follows online services offered by the government.

The 12th EkoSkola parliamentary sitting was chaired by Speaker Anglu Farrugia, who, in his opening remarks, pointed out how the building is built in such a way to be energy efficient and eco-friendly and gave an overview of the objectives of COP21. He encouraged all members and students present to commit to safeguard the best interests of our environment.

The sitting also included the participation of the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil, the Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change Josè Herrera, MP David Agius, MP Stefan Buontempo, MP Robert Cutajar, MP Kristy Debono, MP Godfrey Farrugia, MP Mario Galea, MP Marthese Portelli and MP George Pullicino.

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