If there were ever a need to show how the government’s so-called decarbonisation strategy is in total shambles, Miriam Dalli’s energy and environment ministry would be the place to look.
Just a few months ago, Minister Dalli published Malta’s first decarbonisation strategy in which the government is aiming to achieve a zero carbon footprint by 2050 – primarily by replacing its fleet of vehicles with electric cars.
In more of the by-now expected public relations stunts, Dalli began using a chauffeur-driven electric car as her official ministerial vehicle and formed a Cleaner Vehicles Commission to promote the use of electric cars.
Championing the emissions reduction strategy for political mileage in her campaign in the lead-up to the general elections, Dalli gave several interviews promoting the use of electric cars by insisting that only they – as opposed to their hybrid competitors – should be incentivised by the government.
While Dalli’s efforts were commended by pro-environmental groups, her government did little in practice. Thousands of fuel-guzzling vehicles, many of them old and second-hand, are still being imported monthly – further increasing the country’s already high transport-related pollution levels.
The most striking evidence of the strategy’s dysfunction is from Dalli’s ministry, according to newly-published data.
Last June – just a few days after Dalli’s inauguration of the Clean Vehicles Commission – the Environment and Resources Authority, for which she is also responsible, issued a direct order to lease 20 cars.
But as opposed to following the minister’s lead and setting an example by leasing electric cars, the environment authority instead opted for a new fleet of petrol and diesel engine cars.
For the first four months of the lease, ERA paid John’s Garage of Hamrun almost €30,000, and it is not yet known if the contract has been renewed through another direct order.
The approach is symptomatic of that of most of the government, which, despite the hype about its low emissions agenda, most public procurement has been and still is focused on petrol and diesel engine vehicles.