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Time for ‘ruthless push’ on environment

“It is climate change - and neither the economy as a whole, nor Brexit in particular - that should make us lose sleep at night,” Minister for Health, Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Dr John Cortes warned in his budget speech this week.

Environmental policy and governance, he said had been driven by the EU, not just in Europe, but globally, with member states, and countries outside Europe, having taken steps in responsible stewardship of the planet that in many cases would not have happened if the EU had not existed. This, he added, was the case with both the UK and with Gibraltar, stating that the UK’s departure from the EU was the greatest threat to sustainability the world had seen in decades.

He would now need to push the environmental agenda “ever more strongly” both in the public and the private sectors, he told Parliament.

“In the past I have been enthusiastic and passionate about the environment, I will now be ruthless too.”

The Environmental Action and Management Plan and the Climate Change Programme he confirmed were already in the final stages of review and would be published before the end of this calendar year.

Dr Cortes told Parliament it was important for him to state that, regardless of how things pan-out, the Gibraltar Government had no intention of diluting environmental standards and would “continue to apply in such laws that the EU may make”.

“If we do depart from European targets, I will do my utmost to ensure that the departures is in that we will achieve better standards, not worse,” he added.

The developed world today, he said, saw the economy as the main driver of well-being.

“Well-being” he felt was the purpose of his task as Minister for both Health and the Environment.

“This may very well be the case on a stable planet where monetary riches or industrial prowess can directly benefit the lives of many. But on a planet in the throes of climate change unprecedented since modern civilisation began, this is far from the truth.”

FULL STORY IN TODAY'S PRINT AND E-EDITIONS