Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series described the EU’s Fit-for-55 Package, consisting of amendments to already-existing law, and improvements to the legislative sphere through the inclusion of new legislative proposals.
Malta has demonstrated great willingness to implement EU’s Fit-For-55 package, to “ensure the achievement of Malta’s contribution towards the realisation of a share of at least thirty-two per cent (32%) of energy from renewable sources in the Union’s gross final consumption of energy in 2030” and to reach climate neutrality by 2050.
For this to take place, Malta must be pro-active to take on and overcome many environmental challenges, in numerous ways.
Malta’s National Energy Climate Plan
The National Energy Climate Plan (NECP) for Malta, which covers the period from 2021-2030 is the main tool that delivers the ambitious targets of the European Green Deal, to fully guarantee climate neutrality..
Namely, Malta has shown a ‘let us wait and see what happens’ attitude towards the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive since it has not fully transposed Directive (EU) 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, in which the deadline for its transposition was the 30th of June 2021. Secondly, the emphasis to better apply the Energy Efficiency Directive in Malta is lacking. This would entail decreasing Malta’s overall dependence on energy generated from fossil fuels and investing more in renewable sources such as solar energy, wind energy and biogas, to become a more decarbonised economy.
Solar electricity, for which Malta has one of the highest yields in Europe, is expected to cover 42 % of the country’s total renewable energy consumption by 2030. Moreover, concerning the decarbonisation dimension, Malta plans on continuing to purchase emission allocations from other Member States, until 2030 to possibly reach the percentage goal of -19 % carbon emission, compared to 2005.
Overall, Malta must continue to build on current measures and policies, whilst exploring better initiatives to reach the EU common goal of Climate neutrality, namely in the sectors of decarbonisation and energy efficiency and security. For this reason, the Commission has provided recommendations on Malta’s NECP, which can be accessed here.
Malta’s Climate Action Act
The 2015 Climate Action Act is Malta’s primary law on climate change and holds the foundation of its national climate policy. Hence, it indirectly holds some of the same goals as the Package, since it specifies that it aims to contribute to the mitigation of climate change, by limiting anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and to protect and enhance greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs.
It contains 4 main aspects, the first being the establishment of a Climate Action Board. The latter targets to mainstream climate action, monitor implementation of international and commit to reducing GHG emissions by facilitating preparedness and adaptation to climate impacts.
Secondly, the Act requires the government to prepare a low-carbon development strategy, which can be accessed here, and a national adaptation strategy, which can be accessed here. These are to be reviewed and updated at least every four years. The measures cover seven sectors, namely: Energy, Transport, Buildings, Industry, Waste, Water and Agriculture and land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF).
It also sets up a Climate Action Fund, which has a separate juridical personality and serves to act as the financial instrument to support the implementation of the Act. It includes measures to abate GHG emissions and to adopt carbon neutral technologies as well as to enhance sinks of such emissions whilst building a society, whose sectoral components are resilient to climate change. The fund will provide financial aid for Malta to be able to finance any measures and investments identified in environmental plans.
How can Malta be better fit-for-55?
Sustainable Fuels in the local Aviation and Maritime Sector
One of the main issues related to the dependency on fossil fuels is the local transportation sector. It shows to be one of the highest GHG emitters, especially since road transport is highly dependent on private car usage, air transport and marine freight.
Being an island, Malta depends heavily on transportation by air and sea, thus they locally prove to be highly polluting sectors. With the implementation of the ReFuelEu Aviation and FuelEU Maritime Proposals, Malta can shift its use from current fossil fuel use to sustainable, renewable and low-carbon fuels (RLF) in both industries.
First, instead of making use of regular fossil jet fuel, which is extremely damaging to the atmosphere, aircrafts in Malta should apply a blended mandate of advanced biofuels and electro-fuels (known as SAFs- Sustainable Aviation fuels). The usage of e-kerosene, a synthetic fuel made of green hydrogen and CO2 captured from the atmosphere, would stimulate the decarbonisation process.
As for FuelEU Maritime, all energy used in transhipment activities, within Maltese ports, internal waters and territorial seas as well as onboard Maltese vessels, will stem from eco-fuels. An example would be to set up a fuel standard for ships and introduce a requirement for the most polluting ships to use onshore electricity when at berth. Vessels should be built in such a way that they are able to transition too soon exclude internal combustion engines for fossil fuels and instead have sections for on-board use of hydrogen, ammonia and methanol. Fuel flexibility shows to be an essential specification for new vessels and these recommendations will ‘defossilise’ the maritime sector.
The Local Construction scene and Energy Performance of Buildings
Over-construction in Malta is evidently another major problem, and of great concern to most, especially since buildings are the largest energy consumer, locally and in the EU, as they are responsible for around 40% of energy use and 36 % of energy-related GHG emissions.
To further guarantee proper implementation of the Fit-for-55 in Malta, the proposal on the Energy Performance of Buildings must be greatly emphasised at a national level. This would entail the reconstruction of private properties that already exist, to maximise the potential for decarbonisation, energy poverty alleviation and increased social and economic benefits. In this way, a third of the energy savings over the next 10 years would be generated by renovating non-residential buildings.
The construction of new public buildings must also be designed to suit a zero-emitting structure, possessing eco-friendly spaces, such as solar panel shading, electric transport parking spaces, and bicycle areas. Such buildings will also be required to provide to the relevant authorities, global warming potential on their Energy Performance Certificate, based on their whole-life cycle carbon emissions, with fines imposed if they do not meet certain low, or-zero emitting carbon levels. Moreover, persons employed in the building industry should be adequately-trained and skilled individuals, with proper knowledge and awareness on the type of construction they are working on, and the eco-value it possesses.
Unfortunately, as things stand, the level of ambition of Malta to reach EU eco-friendly goals by 2030 is low, compared to the other EU Member States. However, Malta’s Climate strategy highlights important categories that well-require improvement. They are specifically related to increasing energy generation from renewable sources, being more energy efficient and working to eliminate GHGs in the atmosphere, especially by upgrading our transport and construction sectors.
It would also be interesting to see the influence brought about by the Fit-for-55 Package on Malta’s NECP. In fact, a revision of the Local Plan, including a commentary on how the Package would require Malta to amend its NECP to further ensure EU environmental goals, could act as a better guide, leading Malta in the right direction towards a ‘Green’ change. It will surely exhibit a more active and assertive status of Malta’s pro-environmental transformation, in unison with the Fit-for-55.
Malta can, and must, do more to secure climate neutrality by 2050, and failure should not be an option.
 Promotion of Energy from Renewable Sources – S.L 545.35
 Introduced under the Regulation on the governance of the energy union and climate action (EU/2018/1999)
 Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
 More information regarding this may be accessed here
 Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC
 Through the possibility of off-shore windfarms
 In this regard, see S.L 545.35
 Chapter 543 of the Laws of Malta
 The latest Public Consultation Document being that of June 2021
 Such as to increase the energy efficiency of buildings, improving the renovation of buildings, increasing the decarbonisation of heating and air-conditioning in buildings and up taking a zero-emission and low-emission mobility and transport.
 More information on FuelEU Maritime may be accessed here