Climate activists have for a long-time urged action to prevent what many feel to be the major threat to our civilisation and the world as we know it, and recent data suggests long term damage is already very likely to be inevitable and in potentially irreversible.
In 2019, Gibraltar declared a ‘climate emergency’, making several pledges for the upcoming years. However, the government has taken what it considers a realistic approach:
- To make Gibraltar carbon neutral by 2030 with the help of carbon offsetting.
- To reduce overall omissions by 50% by 2035
- To work with UK and Overseas Territories to determine and implement methods to limit global warming to under 1.5c
- Working with partners in the region to deliver these goals with relevant strategies
The Climate Change Act published the same year sets out targets for a 100% reduction compared to 1990 levels by 2045, which will not include carbon offsetting.
However, it is important to note that these figures refer to what the government considers ‘manageable’ emissions – that is to say, the carbon impact which it feels Gibraltar has full control over and which can be controlled. The full picture represents a more concerning state of affairs, with the Gibraltar’s ‘manageable’ emissions representing just 8.5% of its full carbon impact.
The vast majority of Gibraltar’s emissions are caused by the bunkering: 84% of the Rock’s total impact comes by way of this industry, with international shipping (5.8%) and fuel used by non-locals (1.7%) contributing another 7.5%. Overall, 91.5% of the Gibraltar’s emissions are therefore considered ‘outside the scope’ of Gibraltar’s Climate Strategy
The full picture represents a more concerning state of affairs.
While the government acknowledges that this fact lends itself to criticism that this fails to recognise Gibraltar’s contribution to the climate crisis, it contends that the Rock has limited influence on the function of these industries.
Therefore the document identifies the following four sectors within its control, where considerable changes must necessarily be made to turn the tide in our favour. Within each of these areas, ongoing measures are described, together with a further breakdown of timescales and goals are laid out which provide a theoretical roadmap towards reducing Gibraltar’s manageable emissions to net zero in the coming decades.
The government has made clear these plans will require active input from both the public and private sector, as well as individuals and corporations alike. There is a significant focus on incentivising these changes across the board, but time will tell whether incentives alone will motivate the necessary change.
DECARBONISING THE ENERGY SECTOR
By 2025, the government envisages having fully transferred energy production to Liquid Natural Gas as well as making potable water production more efficient. In the public sector, it aims to make onshore power available for berthing ships via an extension jetty and through GibDock, while removing commercial tariffs.
By 2030, the plan is for 50% of energy consumption to come from renewable sources, and to have established a Climate Action Fund to help reduce emissions and offset carbon impact.
These plans will require active input from both the public and private sector.
DECARBONISING THE BUILDING SECTOR
By 2025, targets include having a new Development Plan for Gibraltar and updated building renovation strategies. All new buildings must be ‘Nearly Zero Energy’ as from now, with legal requirements for solar panels and/or green/brown roofs and walls.
By 2030, customer water meters and cupboards will be replaced across the Rock, enforced requirements will ensure requirements in buildings, and a minimum EPC rating of ‘D’ for rental properties (as from 2025). Also as from 2025, all new builds are to be fitted with smart meters and have hot water air source heat pumps.
DECARBONISING THE TRANSPORT SECTOR
By 2025, over a dozen measures are planned for, including park and ride schemes, a commitment to cycling, ride to work schemes, increased grant provisions for electric vehicles. Diesel and petrol moped imports will be banned as from 2023, with public service vehicles all fully electrified by 2025.
By 2030, no vehicles fully fuelled by petrol will be registered in Gibraltar and the taxi service will switch to a fully electric fleet.
DECARBONISING THE WASTE SECTOR
By 2025, Gibraltar plans to achieve a 55% recycling rate, establish a deposit and return scheme, ensure the treatment of waste water and legislate a requirement for commercial entities to recycle
These are among a host of other targets and measures which the Rock hopes to enact up to and beyond 2030.
The issue is huge and complex, and will require investment and co-ordination between all stakeholders in consistent and measured fashion. Minister for Climate Change, John Cortes, observes that while the Rock’s relative contribution to global emissions is small, we should not see this as an excuse for complacency, but rather a reason to demonstrate that these goals are achievable and serve as an example to the world.