Gozo could be used to pilot a switch from conventional vehicles to electric vehicles, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat suggested during a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday.
Muscat said that more studies were required to see whether this idea was feasible, but added that he wanted Malta to be at the forefront of the change to electric vehicles.
The Prime Minister also said that discussions were underway with the Energy Ministry to start working on incentive schemes for those who charge their electric vehicles at their private residence so that these people can be recognised by the government for shifting to this means of transport. Currently, those charging electric vehicles not at government charging points pay the standard electricity rate per unit.
Muscat was speaking at a cabinet meeting which focused on the environment and sustainability sector and was held at the Salini visitor’s centre which is operated by BirdLife Malta.
Speaking at the meeting, Environment Minister Jose Herrera also said that special emphasis was going to be given to the phasing-in of electric vehicles, and also explained that the government is in the final stages of drafting a low carbon strategy which, when implemented, will move towards a low carbon environment.
Waste was another topic on the agenda, with Herrera saying that it was imperative that the country turns waste into a resource. Both he and Muscat noted the success of waste management measures which have recently been implemented and which have already started working on rectifying this situation.
The plastic bottles return scheme was another important area of change which was highlighted, and the Prime Minister said that another big “cultural change” was needed in this regard. He noted that the government will no doubt be criticised for this initiative as the bottle will be given a 10c monetary value which will in turn add to its price; however, he added, the message is that to get that money back, one just needs to recycle the bottle.
The plastic bottle scheme is expected to be implemented by the end of this year. Meanwhile, a policy paper on single use plastics is also about to be published by the government with the aim of educating people about the alternatives to single use plastic.
Herrera also announced that the Environment Resources Authority (ERA) had started a process to identify more sites which could join the 30 sites which are considered to be Natura 2000 sites.
In a presentation to Cabinet, Herrera also noted the various initiatives and measures that his ministry had implemented in the past legislature, listing afforestation projects, the setting up of Ambjent Malta, and the revamp of animal welfare laws as but some of these achievements.
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