Silent Protest over Panama

Last week the ADZ Green Youth (Alternattiva Demokratika Żgħażagħ) staged a silent protest in front of parliament as investigations by the European Parliament’s PANA Committee where underway. The European Parliament’s PANA Committee is investigating the practice of tax theft and tax avoidance and the practice of hiding away money in secretive jurisdictions such as Panama. The PANA committee is visiting various EU countries in its investigation.

Multinationals and millionaires not paying their fair share of taxes means that essential public services are paid for by all other taxpayers: workers, employees, small businesses and families, Those who make the most profits manage to avoid taxes and in doing so fail to support public services in the same countries in which they do business.

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During the protest the youths wore masks with Minister Konrad Mizzi’s face with the Panamanian flag printed over it. They held slogans such as ‘Workers pay, millionaires steal’. Green MEP Sven Giegold joined AD Chairperson Prof. Arnold Cassola and greeted the protesters before proceeding to Parliament for the PANA committee meeting with Konrad Mizzi.

Later that evening MEP Sven Giegold joined AD and ADZ officials for a press dinner in which he gave an extensive account of the PANA committee’s meetings in Malta.

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Marsascala public garden to be turned into parking space?

With regards to Projects Malta’s plans of turning Marsaskala’s public garden into a parking area, we believe that this will negatively impact the residents’ quality of life.
Over the years, Marsaskala has grown while eating away open spaces making the locality
lose its original character.

As a summer resident, I can tell you that the public garden is a vital spot for the urban
environment. It’s a place where people may sit down in the shade of the trees, where
children may play and where sparrows roost in the tamarisk trees.

It was refreshing to see that the local council has unanimously voted against the proposal.
However, it is expected that councillors stay consistent on other issues such as Sadeen’s
University at Żonqor.

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Daniel Desira – ADŻ Public Relations Officer

Our money and the state

Let us all admit that money is important. Sure it doesnt solve all problems but it makes life easier; our monthly bills, fuel, internet, it affects our social life, travel and even opening new businesses and opportunities and investments involve money. What I am going to focus on is the latter and what a government, in an ideal situation can do to help youth rising up to opening new businesses and other similar opportunities.

First and foremost is cliché alert – education: we need to equip our youth for the battle of a lifetime adulthood. We can only do that if we provide the necessary training and initiatives for youth to embark on investing in themselves and businesses. Courses, incentives, and scholarship are the package the government can offer to train the young. MCAST has in recent years tried to address such needs and has in fact enabled entrepreneurs and career seekers to thrive. We feel that the government should continue to invest accordingly to enable places like MCAST to continue to invest and adapt courses to an ever changing and growing national economy. The University of Malta and other institutions of higher education should continue to invest in their academic portfolio to also be equipped for a modern economy, in parallel with the efforts of the MCAST polytechnic.

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Secondly, allow the opportunities to thrive less paperwork to open a businesses, allow easy access to education (especially for employees who want to further their studies), latch on to economic opportunities such as the film and the gaming sector. Policies favouring reuse of existing buildings, financial incentives for green commercial enterprises such as those favouring renewable energy technologies; alternative modes of transport and better employment conditions.

And equally, we need good governance we need to spread the message to our citizens that their future income and livelihoods will not be at stake, that the state will be investing in you; that hard work pays off and that economic growth will benefit most of us.

Our bread and butter is at stake unless the government will allow us to prosper sensibly. A small country like Malta can act as a model for other countries and should be able to show the world how much it can achieve, despite our limited resources.

Nizar Hingary – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Treasurer

Eradicating our heritage?

What are the first few things that come up to your mind when you think of Sliema?  Well probably traffic, lack of parking and blocks of flats.  But somewhere, behind the facade of blocks of concrete we still find some remnants of the past; buildings which seem to be of another era.

Overdevelopment and the demolition of landmarks, such as old buildings seems to have become commonplace with some developers. One of the clearest examples is Sliema. While almost the entire coastal strip is now filled with monotonous concrete blocks, one might still find some of Sliema’s iconic townhouses.

The latest case of the demolishing of a 155-year old townhouse is totally unacceptable!  Buildings from the 19th Century should be given a conservation priority and not be allowed converted into flats.

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Moreover, it is shameful how, despite so many objections from NGOs, the Sliema local council and residents, such developments are given the green light.  Do the authorities ever listen to the people or are they only keen on over-developing the island and making contractors even richer than they already are?

We from ADŻ Malta Green Youth strongly oppose the demolition of our cultural heritage.  We urge the authorities to listen to us, the citizen majority and not contractors and to safeguard our heritage.  We already lost too much in the previous years and cannot afford to lose more.  It is important to act as soon as possible before it is too late and we lose even more of our limited cultural heritage we still have left!

Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

Maghtab to get 22,000 solar panels

The recent proposal to install 22,000 panels at Maghtab seems pretty attractive for Malta. While indeed this decision is likely to yield more good than cause harm, nothing in this world is perfect and without an opportunity cost to consider.  Some issues will inevitably surround such projects and this brings with it several concerns.

Our first point for discussion is the issue of visual impacts. This largely depends on the type of panels used. Photovoltaic (Solar) Panels may have a high level of reflection, which could have an impact on wildlife, including birds which are attracted by these areas of panels because they mistake them for water bodies, which may result in injuries or death. But also humans may be negatively affected by the farm. Could the solar farm reflect light into drivers paths, say on the Coast Road, thus causing an obstruction to drivers?  Another visual impact that might arise is that due to power lines needed to transport energy.  We hope this won’t be the case and call for the authorities to carry out a visual impact assessment if such power lines are required.

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Speaking of Power Lines; centralised energy generation isn’t always ideal to the energy losses it incurs. Therefore it’s always better to set up solar panels directly at the place of consumption whereby this will keep energy losses at a minimal.

Finally we would also like to inquire why the area earmarked for the solar farm won’t be used for landscaping purposes as originally planned.  While it is completely understandable that the place cannot be used as a recreational area for the public due to safety reasons it would still be a good idea to make use of landscaping techniques to improve the visual aspect of the old landfill.

Overall, we from ADŻ Malta Green Youth welcome the proposal of a solar farm at Magħtab due to the past landuse of the site. It seems like benefits will outweigh the costs but it is still too early in the day to make such judgements.

5 New Year Resolutions you could make

Spend more time in open spaces

Whether you decide to go for a walk, have a picnic or observe migrating birds and animals in their natural habitat, spending more time in green patches will greatly improve your mental health and also help you appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

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Exercise more often

Engaging in any form of exercise does not only help to cut some extra weight you’ve gained in the holiday season, but also helps control stress due to the release of endorphins.

 

 

Travel less by car

Leaving the car at the garage will reduce your carbon footprint while often saving you money. In case, you opt for cycling your way, you get the benefit of some extra exercise as well.

 

Eat less meat

Animal agriculture produces 18% of greenhouse gases, it is one of the key activities causing climate change, not to mention the poor conditions in factory farms. You do not have to become vegan, but taking meatless Mondays and trying to cut down on animal products would render your lifestyle more sustainable and your body might thank you.

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Give something back

While we believe that social justice is more dignifying than charity, there will always be some instances where a helping hand would be welcome. You may help out at a local community center, turn up for a cleanup or raise awareness about social and environmental cause you deeply care about. And you may always join ADŻ and support us with our vision for a fair and sustainable Malta.

 

Daniel Desira – ADŻ Public Relations Officer

The situation in Aleppo

In the light of recent turn of events in Aleppo, whereby the Syrian government is murdering civilians, the actions of both Assad’s dictatorship with Russia and Iran’s backing and the rebel forces are to be condemned. The international community should be doing more to restore peace.

Mideast Syria

In this image made from video and posted online from Validated UGC, a man carries a child after airstrikes hit Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, April 28, 2016. A Syrian monitoring group and a first-responders team say new airstrikes on the rebel-held part of the contested city of Aleppo have killed over a dozen people and brought down at least one residential building. The new violence on Thursday brings the death toll in the past 24-hours in the deeply divided city to at least 61 killed. (Validated UGC via AP video)

What has been happening in Syria during the last months has led many civilians to flee and seek refuge in other countries, thus fuelling the influx of refugees in the Mediterranean, whereby not all make it.

There are several ways in which the EU can help safeguard the lives of civilians in Aleppo and elsewhere:

  1. Sanction arms trade by Member States.
  2. Stop any trade with Iran and Russia.
  3. Send appropriate humanitarian aid to Aleppo.
  4. Open the borders while making sure that all member states contribute to the refugee crisis depending on their economic and geological factors. Refugees’ well-being and right to a fulfilling life and the principles of burden sharing and free movement should be adhered to.

Moreover, there shouldn’t be more intervention. The USA and UK’s decision to bomb Syria has resulted in nothing but the death of more innocent civilians and the recruitment of more terrorists by extremist groups. An attack on Assad may serve as empowerment to the rebels hence act more of a disruption to the path to peace.

Daniel Desira – ADZ Public Relations Officer

Jum ir-Repubblika

Illum id-data hija 13 ta’ Diċembru 2016 – 42 sena ilu, Malta ġiet iddikkjarata bħala Repubblika. Għal ħafna dan il-jum ifisser biss ġurnata bla xogħol jew bla skola, għax sempliċiment hija festa pubblika. Pero, għalkemm it-tifsira ta’ dan il-jum tant importanti forsi ntilef għal ħafna, huwa importanti li nibqgħu nfakkruh, u min nesa issa jiftakar u jirrikonoxxi.

Wara li Malta ħadet l-Indipendenza mir-Renju Unit fil-21 ta’ Settembru 1964, il-poplu Malti ħa ddritt li jiggverna għal rasu, iżda ħass li kien ħaqqu jinqata’ darba għal dejjem mill-Imperu, u Malta ssir Repubblika. Taħt il-Gvern Laburista ta’ Dom Mintoff, bħal-lum fl-1974, Malta ġiet iddikkjarata bħala Repubblika. Iżda din xi tfisser għal pajjiżna?

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Sal-Indipendenza, Malta kienet kolonja. Wara l-Indipendenza, Malta saret stat indipendenti birReġina tal-Ingilterra bħala Kap tal-Istat ta’ Malta. Meta fl-1974, fil-Kamra tad-Deputati ġew ippreżentati numru ta’ emendi lill-Kostituzzjoni, fosthom li Malta ssir Repubblika, il-Membri Parlamentari b’maġġoranza kbira approvawhom, u fl-aħħar, Malta ħelset mill-Imperu Ingliż darba għal dejjem. Il-Kap tal-Istat dakinhar inbidel, u flok ir-Reġina tar-Renju Unit, ġie maħtur is-Sur Anthony Mamo bħala l-ewwel President tar-Repubblika ta’ Malta, filwaqt li Dom Mintoff kien lewwel Prim Ministru tar-Repubblika ta’ Malta.

Din il-festa għandha tifsira kbira għall-istorja politika Maltija, u tal-poplu Malti kollu. Il-poplu Malti wera u għandu responsabbiltà kbira li jkompli juri lid-dinja li vera kiber, u sar nazzjon.

Glen Spiteri – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Spokesperson

A Taste of COP

I have recently participated in Alter COP22, an event parallel to COP22 (Conference of the Parties) organised by the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) with the aim of giving a better perspective of what’s happening at the negotiations. The event was held during the last week of COP (13th to 19th November) in Marrakesh.

To start with, this edition of COP has focused on the implementation of the Paris agreement (COP21), with the following targets for 2018:

  1. A rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement by 2018
  2. National climate action plans to help countries achieve the target of less than 2⁰C global warming by 2050
  3. Who will make up for climate funding and how.

The possible consequence of Trump’s election has been raised in several discussions throughout the weekend. Despite Trump being virtually unable to withdraw from the Paris agreement in his first and hopefully last presidency, the agreement has lost a key leader. Europe should take back the lead if we are to meet our target. On a more positive note, China’s emissions have now stabilised.

15046891_1233465760051724_2378866111899762688_nAnother interesting note is that developing countries are investing more in renewables. It’s up to developed countries to do the same while funding developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation plans. It was also nice to see what civil society activists from the global south had to say – while investment in renewables is good news, the illegal occupation of Western Sahara is not. For this reason, global south natives should be included in the negotiations. Shockingly, the Moroccan regime has jailed poor people on the streets prior to hosting COP22. Moreover, as Europeans we should seek not to create a new debt with the global south, through trade deals like CETA and TTIP that would allow for the transportation of fossil fuels even if governments take sensible action.

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On Thursday 17th, we have performed an action in front of the COP22 Green Zone, in order to highlight the greenwashing at COP, especially with the influence big polluters like Shell and BP still enjoy, and the need for funds necessary for developing countries.

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The negotiations have made some progress with $100 billion to be provided to developing countries and increased focus on adaptation. However, big polluters need to be kicked out or encouraged to become cleaner, human rights infringements in the global south in the name of clean energy need to be addressed, the aviation industry’s emissions should be regulated and Europe should regain its lead.

Daniel Desira – ADZ Public Relations Officer

My COP Experience

Climate change, climate justice, climate action – We’ve been hearing these catch terms all week and it’s all about the climate, but what do they really mean? What are we really doing about it? Despite having the Paris Agreement, are we doing enough to seriously tackle these issues?

So, Welcome to COP22. I am currently in Marrakesh, as part of the Federation of Young European Greens delegations attending the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) as well as the Conference of Parties “COP22” under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I have been attending plenary sessions, negotiations and side events. I also had the opportunity to meet and discuss different issues with people all around the world, from China to Kenya to Germany  and it’s evident – we have a serious problem, and not one- many.

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This is not my first experience in a big conference but it is probably the largest conference I’ve attended and the first day of COP was slightly overwhelming until we got the agendas organised, but once I knew what I had to do and where I had to go then everything settled down. I am following different discussions throughout the days regarding climate change, agriculture and water, depending on the theme set out for the day. The negotiations which I have followed were purely observational and very technical but extremely informative. COP21 set the framework even though it proved to be slightly ambitious and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is one of the topics which countries are challenged with along with transparency, global stocktake (referring to the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement), Loss and Damage and Capacity Building. COP22 is said to be the year of Action.

The venue is really nice and I must admit, it is decorated mostly using recycled items. Despite plastic and cans still being sold, most of the things we use are either made from paper or wood. The facade of Marrakesh pavilion is set up with wood pallets while the restaurants, chairs and tables are made from reprocessed wood.

The food is miserably over priced and despite us here advocating for food security as one of the many topics, there is so much food waste and so much meat. The food offered does not cater at all for vegetarians or vegans and is at least four times the price you would pay in the Medina. The welcome party on Monday night made me feel hypocritical. We are pushing change-driven ideas, coming up with innovative ways of tackling climate issues yet we are here luxuriously celebrating our presence and debating climate issues while other countries some of which are represented here, have families in their country living in poverty, with not enough food to eat, no drinkable water and roof over their head to sleep this evening. This is our reality and these are the issues which what need to be tackled. All this leads me to a big question – has this conference been sustainable or not? My quick and evident answer is No.

Back to the technical aspect of COP22 and the Paris Agreement; Marrakesh has been a historical moment for humanity but I am curious about so many other things. For example, how can we communicate the highly detailed Paris Agreement to the local citizens and insinuate small-scale changes to contribute to the wider perspective, when many are highly influenced by their culture and lifestyle? On the other hand, how can we stop large corporations from continuing to damage the environment due to their activities, when their interests are financial and/or political. Ultimately, how can we get our Governments to listen?

The Paris Agreement set the framework which ratifying parties promise to abide by in order to control the carbon emissions and the state of the environment. The Paris Agreement alone will not solve the problems we are facing and it is therefore the responsibility of Governments, stakeholders and the public to engage and take on responsibility for the decisions that we take.

Danika Formosa  – ADŻ International Secretary