Current Affairs
Vehicle and air-conditioning units emissions are the greatest contributors to climate change

The catastrophic floods that have in recent days menaced and damaged parts of Western Europe causing over 200 deaths in Germany and Belgium, is one of the effects of climate change that is having an impact on the world. Malta is not an exception and has also been affected by this phenomenon.

In an interview with our news centre, Professor Maria Attard, who is the Director of the University’s Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development, said that vehicle and air conditioning unit emissions are creating most damage on the environment and impacting on climate change.

Scientists maintain that all are responsible for climate change and this cannot be changed except to mitigate its effects.

Professor Maria Attard said that in Malta’s case, vehicle and air-conditioning units’ emissions are creating great environmental damage and affecting climate change.  She explained that the number of vehicles on the road, exceeding 408,000, is the cause of most damage.

She said the change of the power station to use of gas has helped reduce CO2 emissions but this has been neutralised by an increase of vehicles and their negative effect is more greatly experienced because they are out in the open and their emissions are in particular affecting health and greatly impacting climatic effects, although the threat to health is more direct.

Professor Attard added the problem is greatly increasing in a speedier manner and is mostly being overlooked but is producing hydrocarbons that damage the climate and mainly produced by air-conditioners.

She said that more urgent action on emissions from building because our buildings are not adapted and this is not sustainable. Many have no insulation and are of stonework that quickly becomes cold or hot. Windows are not double-glazed and therefore do not conserve either heat or cold, and therefore more resort is made to air-conditioning units to maintain the required temperature.

Professor Attard continued to explain that Government reports to the Convention for Climate Change result in rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall; however, when it rains, it rains in a more powerful manner and causes flooding. She referred to a study carried out a few years ago regarding the impact of climate change on road infrastructures.

This concluded that 19% of the infrastructure becomes submerged but at the time there were fewer roads, less tarmac and more trees to absorb the water. Therefore the more trees that are removed and the more tarmac laid this is increasing the ferocity of flooding and this obviously greatly impacts roads.

She warned that in coming times the country’s coastlines will be lost because of rising sea levels and this will greatly affect port areas and those zones at sea level.

Professor Attard said that climate change now being experienced over the last four years was forecast to take place in 80 years’ time but has taken place now.