While air pollutant emissions from vehicles decreased during the pandemic, the same cannot be said for toxic gas emissions from ships sailing around the Maltese islands. Scientific research carried out by Professor Ray Ellul from the University of Malta shows that the level of air pollution has remained the same and there is a concentration in the area of Hurds Bank and the Freeport, which will have drastic effects on our climate within another 30 years.
A detailed analysis of the quality of the air collected and worked on by the Faculty of Science of the University of Malta shows that the quantity of cargo ships most of which use heavy fuel oil, did not decrease at all between March and June of this year. Official statistics show that during this period an average of 230 ships per day passed between Malta and Sicily.
Professor Ray Ellul who leads the team that conducts research on air quality from The Giordan Lighthouse in Gozo said that while the type of ships that passed between Malta and Sicily had changed slightly , the level of pollution remained the same.
“We’ve seen fewer tankers and more cargo vessels, but as far as overall emissions the situation has remained virtually unchanged. Obviously, cruise liners have declined, but cruise liners count for about 1% of all ships, so they won’t make a difference either.”
Professor Ellul said that the analysis shows that the largest amounts of sulphur dioxide which is an air polluting gas were detected in the area of Hurds Bank, 10 miles off the Maltese coast, and also in the waters beyond the Freeport. These toxic gas emissions are having an impact on the air quality of the Maltese islands, with Professor Ellul saying that within 30 years we will feel the drastic effects of climate change in the Mediterranean region.
The temperature here will rise between 3 and 6 centigrades in the Mediterranean and the sea will rise between 1 and 2 metres. This is not just about Malta, everyone is participant.
Professor Ellul’s solution is to use hydrogen as a fuel for transport as soon as possible.
“The only solution for the world is the hydrogen economy. In fact the European Commission has recommended that the gas pipeline to Malta become a Hydrogen pipline, so that we have Hydrogen on tap and we can use it for ships, cars and the power station, with the only emission being water. ”
The air quality survey has been conducted for the past decade and is expected to be published by the Faculty of Science in the coming months.