Monday, December 28, 2015
Monday, December 21, 2015
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
33 Labour Members of Parliament have approved the sale of ODZ land of ecological value in the public domain to Jordanian construction company Sadeen.
The parliamentary session to approve the sale was surreal and raised even more doubts about the development, which is characterised by terrible governance.
Government did its utmost to have a rushed process. Government has put the cart before the horse by selling land to Sadeen before his project has been approved both in terms of planning and in terms of educational accreditation. To make matters worse, it now transpired that Sadeen has not even applied for University status and that his development will also include seaview guestrooms, entertainment facilities, clinic, restaurants, project-related outlets and berthing rights.
Government has ignored the environment parliamentary committee, which was discussing alternatives to Zonqor as proposed by MEPA. Government ignored its own SPED policy which refers to ODZ as last resort. Government has ignored civil society through its bulldozing style.
Front Harsien ODZ cannot consider the 33 MPs who voted for this shameful approval as credible in terms of environmental protection.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Today the Parliament of Malta (streamed live here from 6pm onwards) will be discussing the sale of ODZ public land at Zonqor, Marsascala, to Jordanian business group Sadeen,
Despite being opposed by Front Harsien ODZ, environmental NGOs, Alternattiva Demokratika The Green Party, the Nationalist Party, internal opposition within Labour, and most of Maltese civil society, and despite being characterised by the biggest ever environmental protest in Malta, the Labour Government will proceed with its plans in a bulldozer-like fashion. The only concession given by Government is to reduce the footprint of development on legally-protected ODZ land. Still, the Government is giving away Malta's public domain to big business interests.
In a process lacking transparency and proper consultation, Government has failed to publish the heads of agreement with Sadeen group, has sabotaged the environment parliamentary committee which is discussing alternatives to development at Zonqor, and has ignored advice from the Environment and Planning Authority which has suggested sustainable alternatives to Zonqor.
Today, history is being written: The Malta Government's exclusive Christmas present to Sadeen.
FRONT HARSIEN ODZ
PRESS RELEASE: 15/12/15
Zonqor: Government bulldozes ahead
Front Harsien ODZ expressed its opposition to Government's manoeuvres for sale of public land to Jordanian Sadeen Group.
"The Labour Government is selling Malta's public domain through a very rushed process with no transparency. Government has failed to publish its heads of agreement with Sadeen group, has bypassed the parliamentary environment committee and is ignoring advice from MEPA on sustainable alternatives to Zonqor"
"Government is ignoring Front Harsien ODZ, all opposition parties, internal opposition within Labour, all environmental NGOs, civil society and Malta's biggest ever environmental protest. The only concession given by Government, to reduce the footprint of ODZ development, is not enough, as a huge area of ODZ public land will still be given to the Jordanian big business group. Government also violated its own SPED policy as it did not consider all alternatives before deciding to sell Zonqor".
"The Zonqor issue is a clear example of bad governance. Front Harsien ODZ will remain vigilant and active in opposing the proposed development, which still has to pass through planning process".
"Members of Parliament who vote in favour of the sale of Zonqor will not be considered as credible when, before the next elections, they will attempt to show their environmental credentials"
Monday, December 07, 2015
Now that the Paris climate summit is in full swing, the million-dollar question is whether a global agreement will be reached. Will all United Nations member states commit themselves to a binding agreement which can help safeguard present and future generations from the projected negative impacts of climate change?
The COP21 summit is in itself a complex web of ideologies, interests, organisational set-ups and civil society interaction. When a similar summit was held in Copenhagen six years ago, it transpired that lack of political will and poor organisation ultimately resulted in non-binding rhetoric, to the disappointment of many who had high hopes.
As was the case in Copenhagen, different ideologies are characterising COP21. They are not dogmatic monoliths, but rather entangled in a plurality of discourses within the climate policy sphere. In this context, some believe that technology can provide the most practical solutions, while others believe in markets.
Others emphasise that sustainability should reconcile economic, social and environmental factors through win-win policies. Some believe in stronger state regulation, others prioritise political ecology.
COP21 is also characterised by a plurality of interests. Some big business interests, particularly of fossil fuel producers, do their utmost to minimise the climate change problem. Others, like climate scientists, do the opposite, based on their research and projections.
National interests play a key role, too. For example, it is unclear what role Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela will ultimately play during COP21, in view of the fossil-fuel energy they produce and their current geo-political interests.
The US and China, the two largest polluters, which, paradoxically, are committing themselves to tackle climate change for example through increased usage of renewable energy, are probably giving concessions and commitments to each other to maintain some form of global truce.
Various countries also combine their national interests with their affiliations.
For example, Malta is bound by EU policy – which in itself is a condensation of different interests and ideologies at different levels – yet it is also a small island and a member of the Commonwealth.
During Malta’s CHOGM meeting, the 53 members reached their own common stance on climate change policy. A vital factor which is often overlooked in policy analysis is the organisational aspect. It is said that France invested much in organisation, hopefully to avoid a second Copenhagen. Bringing together delegates from almost 200 countries is a massive task, especially when each country has its own ideologies, interests and affiliations.
Delegations meet formally, informally, bilaterally, multilaterally, in a network of meetings. Some meetings are transparent and open to the press. Others are held behind closed doors, discussing sensitive issues such as climate financing, security and emissions targets through give-and-take negotiations. As one can imagine, negotiators are not on a level playing field, yet coalitions can play an important role.
The organisational aspect of COP21 will undoubtedly also be influenced by social interaction aspects which include charisma, emotion and goodwill. For example, the bland Obama of the Copenhagen summit seems to be replaced by a resolved and determined Obama in Paris. I only shudder to think what will happen if a Republican climate denier is elected US president next time around.
The charisma of Pope Francis and other religious and political leaders also plays an important role in the dramatisation of climate politics. Some countries like Sweden (through its red-green government) are presenting themselves as inspiring world leaders in the shift to clean energy.
Global civil society and the media play a vital sensitising role in COP21. The former was not discouraged by France’s security measures regarding public demonstrations. Social movements instead opted for a wave of protest in all corners of the world. Various media outlets, from mainstream press to alternative social media groups are giving voice to civil society whilst telling politicians that all the world is watching them.
Will the complexity of COP21 enhance dialogue for a global agreement? The opportunity is there, and a binding agreement will hopefully rise like a rainbow amid global risk.