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  • ESG Radio Broadcast 30th March 2017

    ESG Radio Newsletter 30th March 2017


    So many major news stories making headlines these days it is hard to keep up with everything. We have been busy issuing our own statements on sewage issues and the new plant so needed for Gibraltar. We have also come out strongly in response to claims by La Junta that they intend to rein in emissions from the large chemical plants located in the Campo area. The one main point we would like to highlight here is that emission levels can only be accurately measured if carried out independently of industry, and ideally via real-time stack monitoring managed by external operators. So we are sure that NGOs from both sides of the border will regard this tightening of controls by La Junta somewhat sceptically until such time as the data gathering is run transparently and free from industry control.


    With the exit from European membership all but sealed we focus on ensuring that our environmental standards will continue. We hope to meet with the GONHS and Ministry for the Environment as soon as possible to continue discussions on the way forward in this respect and in our different areas of work. It was interesting to meet the UK Under Secretary of State for exiting the European Union, Mr Robin Walker, recently in Gibraltar on a fact finding mission to hear concerns from different sectors of the community. The ESG made clear that our cross border health and environmental problems can only be addressed directly with the EC given the issues are transboundary and cannot be tackled by any single member state. Mr Walker suggested there could be other tools available to us in Europe post Brexit and we agreed to follow this up.


    The ESG has finalised its updated “2017 List of Objectives”. A very comprehensive document covering 15 key areas from Climate Change to Recycling, Pollution to Planning and much more. The document studies environmental issues and makes recommendations for their resolution. We shall be submitting copies directly to Government and opposition political parties and will also be placing a copy on our website alongside previous and earlier versions. Naturally many of these issues are dynamic and we shall strive to keep our document as up to date as possible.


    Finishing on a global note, it can’t have escaped many of you that the USA is set to enter a very dark period on the environment if current threats and promises are followed through. This relates to the revoking of controls on coal extraction, radically reducing the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as weakening the US position and support for collective action on climate change. We recall the Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth moment when urging the world to take action on this crucial issue, also then his own country’s harshest critic in terms of being one of the worst offenders. Things changed under Obama and it helped achieve universal solidarity with other global leaders finally getting to a point where we could start believing that real action was possible. Could Trump really reverse this major milestone for humanity?


    There is much dissent and outrage in the US itself on this – lets hope that, along with other Trump recent pledges that have failed, that this backward and chillingly frightening reversing of environmental gains will also fail. For more information on issues we follow more locally please visit our news page on esg-gib.net or contact us at esg@gibtelecom.net. Thanks for listening.

    Earth Hour 2017 25th March

    Earth Hour is with us once more -a strong campaign supported by millions throughout the world and a chance to draw attention to global environmental challenges.

    Gibraltar begin supporting Earth Hour several years ago and today is no different with calls publicly made by Government and other NGOs to ask for public support turning off lights during the campaign “hour” this evening, as from 8.30pm.

    A small step such as with Earth Hour, taken widely, can have a great impact, and will serve as a push, a nudge, and message to all, that we  need to take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.

    The ESG, as a supporter of Earth Hour from its early days, hopes the campaign will see even more widespread support locally and internationally in 2017.

    Visit earthhour.org website for more details.


    ESG calls for “independent emission data” from Campo Industry 22nd March 2017

    ESG Press Release

    La Junta and emissions in the Campo area

    22nd March 2017


    The article in Europa Sur this past week, citing La Junta appearing to take action on Campo emission levels, carries a mixed message. It tacitly acknowledges that pollution levels, as directed by the World Health Organisation, are higher than advisable in the Campo area – this despite claiming levels are legal and that mortality rates are getting lower. The latter was in response earlier this month to a protest held by citizens after the recent heavy flaring by CEPSA Oil Refinery. This announcement also follows formal separate complaints lodged by the Gibraltar Government and the ESG with Brussels on the excessive pollution produced by the Refinery in the flaring episode in late January.


    A reference to excessive nickel levels being tacked is well overdue when these were previously flagged to the EU by NGOs on both sides of the border in 2011!!  La Junta acknowledges that petrochemical and metal industries will be largely responsible for this though it is trying to diffuse some responsibility by claiming that shipping is partly responsible.


    Perhaps the reason the Junta is making such statements today is because it is finally receiving some badly needed attention from the EU wondering why it is allowing such poor regulation of industries on its watch? If so, pressure must be maintained to ensure the badly needed clean up of the Campo industrial base continues. Another claim by La Junta this week is that the petrochemical industry will need to have its licence changed to limit its emissions. This is a very positive development but success will depend on there being independent and verifiable monitoring data.


    Such monitoring data supplied to the EU by La Junta proving compliance in the past has always been less than satisfactory to the ESG and other NGOs due to the fact that these originate from monitors predominantly sited and managed within industries themselves. In a comprehensive audit on the Refinery authors confirmed this concern and urged for greater independence and transparency with regards to monitoring data. Without this, other measures will be meaningless. Lets hope La Junta tackles this critical oversight also in this publicly expressed drive to rein in dirty industry.


    The ESG has been assured by the Clean Air Unit in Brussels to be looking carefully into the situation behind the heavy flaring by CEPSA in January this year and hopes that in so doing, is bringing about its own pressure for positive changes to clean up these giant and heavily polluting industries that have so degraded the Bays environment and lives of so many of its citizens for decades.




    ESG on Sewage Treatment 22nd March 2017

     ESG Press Release

    Sewage Treatment Plant

    22nd March 2017



    ESG members have expressed concern about the apparent slow-down in the progress made by Government regarding the Sewage Treatment Plant.


    After awarding the tender in 2015 there have been no further signs that this project is getting underway. The group will be taking this up directly with Government and it will be one of our key objectives for 2017.


    This and other issues are contained in a newly produced list of Objectives for 2017 that will be published shortly.




    ESG Radio Newsletter 090317

    ESG Radio Newsletter 9th March 2017

    Keywords:  Diesel pollution/Transport Plan and Timeline/Refinery Protest/DPC and more

    Car pollution is rearing its ugly head once again with alarming reports flooding mainstream media about how citizens from over major cities around the world are struggling to breathe.

    This is a crucial issue but not a new one. For well over a decade the WHO has rung alarm bells about the consequences for public health from air pollution from industry and vehicular traffic warning governments and manufacturers about the need for swift action on this growing health crisis.

     When diesel replaced petrol particularly in the commercial world as both cheaper and initially better for public health, it was not then known about the pervasive and dangerous nature of diesel emissions – primarily in releasing particulate matter – that’s fine dust particles from incomplete combustion, in various sizes, the smallest at 2.5s known to penetrate deep into our bodies and cause severe health impacts. These include respiratory as well as cardiovascular problems. Children, the elderly and those affected by any type of breathing or heart problems also especially vulnerable.

    So, one would expect prompt action to rid diesel vehicles from our roads? Easier said than done- the EU has worked hard to rein in car manufacturers to move away from diesel, meeting considerable resistance and delays, but getting some results. Furthermore city after city in Europe has pledged to rid itself altogether from diesel cars on their roads, many by the end of this decade. So, its clear the message is getting through and action being taken. But more needs to be done and faster.

    Speaking locally, we have our own issues with diesel vehicles, old and new, without a long-term plan in place to address this, never mind a short-term plan. While this pollution is widespread there are hotspots in Gibraltar where diesel fumes are likely to be causing health impacts – for example Parliament lane, the playground at Cathedral Square, Prince Edwards road, Winston Churchill avenue, among others.

    The ESG has raised these issues before with various administrations and is seeking a meeting with the Minister for Transport to discuss these afresh and other issues. Until such time as the runway tunnel road is completed the northern part of Gibraltar’s road are in crisis mode whenever there is more than one flight in at a time. Construction works near the schools are not helping the situation either. Imagine the fumes churning out during these periods of gridlock?

    Another important matter for us is a timeline for the implementation of the Transport Plan. We hope that with this the community can better understand the forward thinking planned to improve transport and traffic issues for Gibraltar. We would hope that such a plan will be targeting the de-scaling of diesel vehicles, greater use of electric and hybrid, promotion of cycling, walking etc.

    On another matter is the recent protest held in Algeciras by Ecologistas en Ación against industry pollution in the Campo and need for rigorous epidemiological studies that saw several hundred citizens support the march. Though it was downplayed by La Junta claiming smoking is the cause of all sickness in the Campo, as they are prone to do, the march made its point, of that there is no doubt.

    The ESG lodged its own formal complaint with the EC after the excessive flaring at the CEPSA Oil Refinery at the end of January this year – we have had several replies from the commission to date that the issue is being looked into by the dedicated Clean Air Unit for Industry and we shall report any substantial replies once we have these. We will not let the matter drop. It was curious to read about a recent shutdown and works carried out at the refinery to improve efficiency and emissions – it’s a mystery what these works might have been related to as CEPSA refused to answer any of our letters and emails probing for information on the recent pollution spikes.

    Thanks for listening – some notable dates coming up: Earth Hour 2017 on the 25th March and World Earth Day on the 22nd April. More information on these will be issued separately – Also next Development and Planning Commission date is on the 28th March. Thanks for listening. You can email us at esg@gibtelecom.net or visit esg-gib.net for more information.