The Economist marks Malta’s impressive reduction in carbon emissions

The influential journal The Economist recently carried an analysis on how carbon emissions have developed since 2010. This was based on the findings of an extensive report released by the research agency Global Carbon Project.

The latter noted how carbon emissions have finally started to reach a plateau in the last decade. This is because developed countries such as the United States and the European Union are managing to lower emissions enough to make up for the increase due to developing countries.

The Economist noted how 76 countries have managed to reduce carbon emissions per capita by more than 5% in the past decade. But in many cases, this was due to an economic downturn or slowdown in these countries. Only in 24 countries did economic activity increase on a per capita basis and at the same time carbon emissions per capita decreased. This is what is known as the process of decoupling economic growth and carbon emissions. The Economist’s analysis shows that Malta was among these two dozen countries.  

International statistics indicate how Malta has made great strides in this aspect after 2012. Emissions have fallen from 6.5 tonnes of carbon per person in 2012 to 3.6 tonnes in 2020. To understand how phenomenal this drop is, it is enough to consider that in Europe this level of per capita emissions was last achieved in the 1930s. In the case of Malta, emissions per capita have been brought down to the level of emissions the country last had in 1985. This when compared to 1985, today we have a GDP per capita which is seven times greater.

Across Europe there has been a decline after 2012, but the average has fallen to Malta’s level in 2012. This means that on average they have almost twice Malta’s per capita emissions. In Cyprus carbon emissions amount to 5.38 tonnes per person, while in Luxembourg they are 13.1 tonnes per person.

Under previous Conservative administrations our country’s per capita carbon emissions had one tendency – upwards. From 4.2 tonnes in 1986 to 6.2 tonnes in 1991, to 6.5 tonnes in 1995, to 6.7 in 2007. These year-on-year increases occurred at a time when the rate of economic growth was significantly lower than in the last two legislatures.

These figures show that while the economy has doubled, the per capita emissions have almost halved. Therefore we are managing to continue to grow strongly while reducing carbon emissions. This is the model of the new prosperity by which we can achieve a just transition to a carbonless society.

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