Malta (Global Warming)

THE REPUBLIC OF Malta consists of three main islands in the Mediterranean Sea, and has a land area of 121 sq. mi. (316 sq. km.), consisting of the islands of Malta (246 sq. km.), Gozo (67 sq. km.), Comino (2.7 sq. km.) and the uninhabited islets of Cominotto, Fil-fla, and St. Paul. It has a population of 407,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 3,339 people per sq. mi. (1,282 people per sq. km.), making it the 7th most densely populated country in the world. Although officially, 32 percent of the land is arable, with wheat and potatoes grown widely, the soil is poor.

Because of its hot temperature and extensive tourist industry, Malta has a relatively high per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions, with 6.2 metric tons per person in 1990, rising to 8.7 metric tons per person in 1997, and then falling steadily to 6.2 metric tons by 2003. With 53 percent of all emissions in the country from electricity, heavily used for air conditioning, the entire electricity production in the country comes from fossil fuels, accounting for 40 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions coming from solid fuels. The remaining 60 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions is from liquid fuels, with transportation making up 15 percent of the country’s entire emissions. In spite of its small size, there is a high private ownership of automobiles, many of which are increasingly old and inefficient in their use of fuel, resulting in heavy congestion and noticeable smog coming not only from traffic, but also from coal-fired power stations and factories.

The effects of global warming and climate change on Malta will be dramatic. The country already suffers from low agricultural production, and has shortages of water, resulting in Malta needing to build several large desalination plants, further increasing the strain on the power grid. It is also expected that rising temperatures in the Mediterranean might result in a decline in the number of fish, further hurting an already declining fishing industry. The Maltese government ratified the Vienna Convention in 1988 and took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. The government signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on April 17, 1998. It was ratified on November 11, 2001, and took effect on February 16, 2005.

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