[WATCH] Malta to establish cut-off date for sale of diesel and petrol vehicles

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says that a consultation process will be establishing a cut-off date beyond which all new vehicles on the road would be electrical or similar

Government may soon start a push towards electric cars
Government may soon start a push towards electric cars

With vehicle emissions still the biggest source of pollution in Malta, the government will soon be launching a consultation process to establish a cut-off date beyond which all new cars on the road would need to be electric or similar, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

Some countries have already set 2020, 2025 or 2040 as the cut-off date beyond which no petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles will be available for sale.

Musat said Malta could be a test bed for such new clean technologies – Gozo even more so than Malta – and providing an exciting opportunity for the new generation.

The prime minister, who was addressing a Labour Party activity in Bormla to celebrate the first 100 days of this legislature, said that Labour members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been urged to vote in favour of outgoing PN leader Simon Busuttil’s European Parliament appointment.

Busuttil has been nominated to join an oversight committee that oversees the appointment of judges and advocates-general at the European Union Court of Justice. Voting for the European Parliament position will take place Monday and all MEPs (local and foreign) are eligible to vote.

“I congratulate him on his new post,” Muscat said, leading to boos from the crowd, which he tried his best to silence.

The prime minister urged the supporters to support Maltese success and endeavours – even those coming from PN.

“My family and I were the ones most hurt by the PNs allegations, but we need to continue to celebrate their success because they are Maltese," he said. 

Muscat said the past 100 days were among the most normal that the people had lived through, proving wrong all those who had warned of uncertainty and a downturn in the economy.

He insisted that a later election would have threatened civil workers. “We could have taken the easy road - to hold on to our power,” he said. “Instead, we decided to protect other people's employment."

Muscat said that problems such as rent price increases and deprivation “inevitably arise when a country experiences growth”.

But he insisted the Labour government would continue to tackle social issues, as well as seeing to maintain a strong economy.

"There is no 'cruising speed' for the Labour Party," he said. “We stop existing the moment we stop changing. Our secret is keeping our pulse on issues that worry people."

Muscat said talks had already started with the social partners on how former public holidays that fell on weekends would be ‘returned’ to workers.

On Air Malta, he confirmed that – as revealed earlier in the day by tourism minister Konrad Mizzi – talks were being initiated with Ryanair on cooperation between the two airlines that could see Air Malta tickets sold on the Ryanair portal as well as an agreement on flight connections.

With regards to pensions, Musat said the government would once again be raising pensions in the upcoming budget.

The budget, he said, would focus on giving to people, not taking from them.

The prime minister said the government would also be focusing on law enforcement, ensuring – for example – that laws governing tables and chairs placed on pavements by restaurants were being observed.

He said he had also instructed the police to be stricter in the enforcement of traffic regulations, particularly drink-driving and using the mobile phone while driving.

Muscat said he also wanted to see better law enforcement in areas like Marsa and Birżebbuga irrespective of the nationality of the law breakers. 

He said Marsa open centre would be closed down and the 100 or so migrants would be relocated to Ħal Far, where facilities already existed to accommodate them.

Muscat said the government would work for integration rather than risking the creation of ghettos. 

He also assured residents of Birżebbuga that the police would be vigilant to ensure that there was no anti-social behaviour. 

On the proposed legalisation of marijuana, Muscat said such a reform would not mean that everyone could start taking drugs.

He also referred to the need to clean up Malta and said the government was considering ways how plastic bottles could be eliminated through the introduction of financial compensation for returns.

Alternattiva Demokratika reaction

In a statement, Alternattiva Demokratika welcomed news of a cut-off date for the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles, the "true cancer factory in the heart of every town and village".

AD spokesperson Ralph Cassar said that the proposal had been put forward by AD in its Zero Carbon Malta 2050 document.

"The transition period for all cars to change from diesel and petrol to electric is dependent on many factors including the time necessary to change the infrastructure which so far only serves petrol and diesel vehicles to infrastructure including battery swapping schemes, and the charging and recycling of batteries, as well as reasonable period so during which all current diesel and petrol cars are phased out," he said.

"In the short term the Government should ensure that all its vehicles, those of rental companies and taxis are replaced by electric ones. The electrification of public transport should also be planned immediately. It is important to have a plan with clear targets which are adhered to."

AD said this measure should be complemented by others aimed at reducing congestion, and a national system of proper bicycle paths for commuters using bicycles and electric bicycle.

"According to figures from London the introduction of 'bicycle superhighways' increased use of bicycles by 60%," the party said. "Other figures show a decrease of 35% of travelling time for vehicles along main roads where separate and safe bicycle lanes were introduced. For each person who uses a bicycle you get less traffic and less pollution."

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