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  • Need for Public Debate on Climate Change 17.04.19

    The Climate Change Debate – April 2019

    In recent weeks Climate Change and citizen activism has moved to another level with a successful Gibraltar Youth Climate Protest led by inspiring, young people. The ESG was very happy to support them and their petition on the day. We have also welcomed the Minister for the Environment’s response with a Climate Emergency Pledge. The ESG would like to see this followed by greater promotion of information already available on our existing impacts[1], such as our currently unsustainable lifestyle and energy consumption, oil and port-based economies, air travel, transport (local and cross border), etc. Public debate is needed to gain widespread support and understanding.[2] In this way policy makers, industry and the community at large, can work towards a step plan to underpin Government’s recently declared Climate Emergency Pledge. We hope the details of the Pledge will be published as soon as possible.


    As well as our own impacts we can see how complex and challenging the issue of transitioning to a more sustainable world and real action on climate change becomes when we look around the Bay and across to North Africa: three countries – trading in fossil fuels – with volumes growing each year. Across the border a study on the Campo industrial zone emissions estimated that over 10,000,000 tons of CO2 were released in 2008![3] This, combined with the toxic cocktail of pollutants released, is why the ESG fought so hard during the 2000-2010 decade, at cross border level, for the tighter enforcement of EU environmental regulation of the major CEPSA Oil Refinery and other associated chemical industries.


    Fossil fuel presently drives Gibraltar and Bay communities. Apart from providing our potable water via an energy hungry desalination plant, trade in oil via bunkering (ship refuelling) and foreign vehicles, is very significant and Gibraltar benefits from this business. The contribution regionally, therefore, to the carbon dilemma globally is highly significant and staring at us in the face each day. How can these economic drivers be changed quickly enough to meet the global call for action on Climate Change?


    Pollution, produced as a by-product of using fossil fuels through the combustion process, is also harmful to people. We have long called for best available technology and practice to be applied wherever fuel activity is carried out. Bold steps to reduce traffic numbers and by emission type must be applied, as has been launched this month in London.[4] Impacts from growing development are taking a heavy toll on both our roads and our lungs. All these factors contribute to poor air quality and CO2 emissions and need to be factored in the emergency pledge.


    The Minister for the Environment has mentioned offsetting some of our carbon impacts. Support and focus to steer us away from our present fossil fuel dependence must be the priority. We would like to see a legally binding time period applied to offsetting measures during our transition away from fossil fuel reliance and trade. All political parties must agree to this commitment.


    We believe political parties in Gibraltar should support the environmental targets that will improve quality of life and avoid the worst impacts climate change can bring. Difficult decisions will also require the support of the public and business community. We know we must do a lot better and pull out all the stops to do our very best. Anything less would be criminal and a moral let down to all generations that follow. Lets have the public debate and address this global crisis.

    (1)  https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/new/sites/default/files/HMGoG_Documents/2016-Summary_Report_GibraltarCityInventory_Final.pdf

    (2)   ESG List of Objectives, Climate Change : http://www.esg-gib.net/dev/wp -content/uploads/2017/09/New_ESG-OBJECTIVES-2017-Complete-Short.pd

    (3)  2008 Spanish NGO report into CO2 Emissions from key industries in the Bay

    (4)   http://www.climateaction.org/news/new_mayor_of_london_unveils_plan_to_tackle_pollution