Malta is making extraordinary efforts for turning the country into the flagship of introducing and adopting electric mobility (eMobility) solutions on its way to reducing CO2 emissions drastically, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today when addressing the first eMobolity Summit held in Malta in the InterContinental hotel. The Maltese government is also planning to launch a pilot on Gozo, aiming to turn the sister island into a zero-emission zone.

The first international eMobilty summit could not have come at a better time, according to the prime minister. Malta has experienced unprecedented economic growth in the past six years; the landscape is transforming, so are businesses, which at the end of the day are changing the country, Mr Muscat said.

“We are facing challenges stemming from the progress that we see as opportunities … We are here to discuss these opportunities … We do not shy away from challenges,” Mr Muscat said addressing the auditorium of market players and industry professionals.

He mentioned that two years ago the government started working on a total revamp of the local road infrastructure as part of a €700m project. He added that in the past six years, nationwide emissions have been reduced by 50% due to the changes the government started.

Mr Muscat also voiced certainty that the tunnel between Gozo and Malta will be built, and the government is making efforts to provide free public transport for people passing through the tunnel. At the same time, the Maltese government is planning to launch a pilot on Gozo, trying to turn the sister island into a zero-emission zone.

After turning Gozo into a zero-emission zone, the government would like to replicate this pilot in Malta, which Mr Muscat hopes will serve as a pilot for the whole European Union and the world for introducing electric vehicles in a country, going completely free of CO2 emissions. The prime minister, therefore, appeared to be an advocate of a “nation-wide changeover”.

He acknowledged that the country is heavily-reliant on cars; hence actions are needed to be taken with urgency, to put a stop to pollution. The government has commissioned PwC Malta to carry out a study to see how the changeover can be carried out in the archipelago. Mr Muscat said this study should be published in the upcoming weeks.

Questions that need to be answered comprise of the affordability of electric vehicles, whether a government can restrict the import and purchase of non-electric vehicles, whether the government can incentivise the import and purchase of electric cars and whether the national power grid is ready for an influx of electric vehicles. “People should be able to charge electric cars at home with sensible fees,” Mr Muscat said.

“There are barriers, but innovation should be the key to break down such barriers … We want to be trendsetters in Europe and the world in how we live and work; transport is one key factor,” the prime minister said referring to the government’s commitment to electric mobility.

He once again reiterated that this has to be done accompanied by — if not mixed with — the country’s efforts in being at the forefront of the blockchain, artificial intelligence and other disruptive developments. “We want to see how we can synergise these sectors with eMobility,” Mr Muscat concluded.