The Select Committee on the Environment met yesterday morning for the first time in the chamber of the Gibraltar Parliament.

The Committee is chaired jointly by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi and it includes the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, the Minister for the Environment Professor John Cortes, and Opposition Member Giovanni Origo.

The Committee discussed a number of housekeeping issues and went over a draft of its programme of work.

It will be recalled that in 2019 the Gibraltar Parliament declared a climate emergency. In 2021 the IPCC issued a stark code red warning for humanity. The period from February 2023 to January 2024 reached 1.52 degrees centigrade of warming – the first time that global warming has breached the 1.5 limit across an entire year.

COP28 in Dubai resulted in a commitment to transition away from fossil fuels and to triple renewable energy production. Gibraltar has taken some steps already but there is still plenty of work to be done.

All the Members of the Committee agreed that it was important to set party political differences aside to work together on this vital issue. The Select Committee provides an opportunity to review progress to date and to understand what further work must be done across the community to deliver on the myriad of co-benefits that climate action will bring including cleaner air, better health, more access to nature and an improved quality of life for residents and visitors.

The Select Committee will, in due course, be providing members of the public, civil society, groups and associations with an opportunity to submit oral or written evidence, or both. This will assist the Committee in its deliberations. Given the issues that it will be dealing with, the Committee also expects to receive expert advice.

A second meeting has been planned for next month.

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