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Home » Environment, Pollution

It’s time to switch to electric

Submitted by on 13 Apr 2018 – 09:55

In the EU, air pollution kills half a million people every year, whereas in Malta alone, air pollution is responsible for 220 deaths annually. This is one of the main reasons why the European Commission and the Maltese government are encouraging the transfer from vehicles powered by conventional fuels to electric vehicles, hybrids and the usage of low-carbon fuels, in a bid to tackle climate change and toxic air. Miriam Dalli MEP says it’s time to switch

In Malta, emission levels from road transport shot up by 16.4 percent between 2005 and 2014, which means that Malta is likely to fail to reach its 2020 emissions targets. However, the Maltese government has an ambitious plan to address this deficit.

Through ambitious 2020 measures, the government presented the national transport strategy for 2050 and the master plan for 2025. After the first 100 days of his term, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a plan to find a date whereby cars using petrol and diesel will no longer be sold.

Transport Malta’s national plan and the master plan were based on the European Commission’s white and green paper, which outlined the guidelines and targets for introducing e-mobility. The targets concern every member state, enveloping issues such as reduction of the EU’s dependence on imported oil and reduction of transport carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2050.

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Some 102 charging points for electric vehicles have been installed across the island so far and another 500 will be deployed soon.

It is admittedly a challenge to encourage drivers to make the switch to clean energy vehicles, especially considering the high rate of second-hand cars that are sold in Malta. However, encouraging the switch to cleaner mobility comes in different ways. In a bid to further encourage the purchase of clean energy vehicles the Maltese government offers a number of grants.

In future, Transport Malta endeavours to promote sustainable transport by including new maritime ferry service routes, upgrading respective infrastructure and exploring additional public transport services to increase capacity and reliability while also promoting softer modes of transport such as walking and cycling.

Sustainable transportation will definitely result in a positive footprint on the ecosystem, but will it have a negative effect on the automotive industry?

It is proven that shared mobility can slow global vehicle sales, but not reverse the trend. There are €24 million loans which were announced by the European Investment Bank aimed at supporting the upcoming challenges in the automotive industry. Nevertheless, research suggests that shared mobility will only partially replace car ownership.

At the same time, a balance has to be reached between decreasing traffic congestion and the opposition that may arise from the automotive industry. Although it looks likely that there will be fewer vehicles on the road due to the growth of the shared mobility market, innovative plans and strategies can prove an opportunity to automakers, suppliers and other mobility players to innovate and advance in a business that introduces new sustainable vehicles and modes of transport.

This is no mean feat but we have to work for a more sustainable means of transport. The external costs of traffic congestion in Malta – mainly economic and environmental – have been estimated at €247 million.

Decarbonisation can be achieved and is at the heart of a developing society. Initiatives from the European Commission and different national governments across Europe stress that this is an ongoing process. This is a unique opportunity to stimulate a clean and zero-carbon mentality and we should grab this opportunity sooner rather than later.