The Interdiocesan Environment Commission (KA) of the Church in Malta has accused elements of the public and private sectors of “greenwashing” major development projects.
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“Greenwashing is the practice of making unsubstantiated or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a project in order to make it appear more environmentally friendly than it really is”, the KA noted in its statement.
Lamenting that examples of greenwashing have abounded in the 16 years since it was set up, the KA said it is “highly critical” of development projects based on environmental impact studies that are never made public.
“Common citizens have to content themselves with the interpretation given by whoever may have a vested interest in seeing a particular project move on”, the KA denounced.
As examples of less-than-transparent reports and projects, the KA pointed to a 2017 Report on the Building Industry and Property Market that justified “more unsustainable building”, to feasibility studies on a tunnel linking the two Maltese islands, and to a studies on a proposed Central Link in Malta to alleviate traffic congestion.
“The Maltese public deserves greater respect”, the KA said.
“Important studies about environmental issues should no longer be kept under wraps, as has very often been the practice for years”.
The KA had strong words for those in the Church that choose “to cause environmental damage through various projects (be they small or large) by selling or leasing land for irresponsible development under the guise of addressing pastoral and social needs”.
“Our faith obliges us to appreciate (more than anybody else) what God in his love has created, by disapproving and disassociating ourselves from any development which is not sustainable albeit permitted by law”, insisted the Commission.
The KA also called on politicians “to seriously address environmental issues”, even at the cost of votes – such as by banning plastic containers and packaging – and “to establish limits to growth for our country”.
“If we really believe in sustainable development, every project has to be planned in such a way that it draws an equal balance between environmental, economic, and social interests”, the KA said.
“One has to ascertain that the gross domestic product of our country grows through initiatives that primarily bolster our well being”.
The KA concluded its statement by noting the “encouraging” phenomenon of the “ever increasing number of people who voice their concerns on environmental issues”.
“But these have to be careful not to give in to attempts to have their voice tainted with partisan politics”, the Commission warned.
“The ultimate aim of all our efforts should be the consolidation of the common good by securing the best quality of life”, the KA said.