EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said “the widely held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true. Competitive transport systems are vital for Europe’s ability to compete in the world, for economic growth, job creation and for people’s everyday quality of life”.
One of the most important aspects of this new strategy for Malta may be a ban on all fossil-fuel dependent cars from cities by 2050 since the document is suggesting a 50% shift away from conventionally fuelled cars by 2030 to achieve “essentially CO₂-free movement in major urban centres”. The strategy does not classify what is to be considered a city but Malta could be considered one whole city because of its small size. However, such a decision has still to be taken.
According to a National Statistics Office press release dated 12th January 2011, transport in Malta is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels with only around 40 electric vehicles on the road in the fourth quarter of 2010. This same press release also reveals that there are 304,705 vehicles on the road in Malta when the current population is of 412,966 (according to a 2010 estimate and including those under 18 who are not licensed to drive). Of these, 76.7 per cent were private vehicles, while commercial vehicles accounted for 15.6 per cent. This paints a very negative picture compared to what the Commission is proposing regarding the reduction and possible elimination of fossil fuels for vehicles.
Malta is also currently in the process of a major public transport reform beginning from July 2011 that will “create a public transport service that is sustainable both environmentally and financially, integrated and modern; one designed to serve the needs of those who use it” (Transport Minister Austin Gatt in 2008 during the launch of the public transport reform document) .
The Commission document also proposes that by 2050 the majority of medium-distance passenger journeys above 300 kilometres should be by rail and more than half of road freight should move to rail or boat. All core network airports should be connected to the rail network by 2050, with all core seaports sufficiently connected to rail freight and, where possible, an inland waterway system.
For longer-distance travel and intercontinental freight, air and sea travel will benefit from new engines and fuels and with better efficiency and a reduction in emissions. Airlines and shipping lines will have to reduce carbon fuels by at least 50% by 2050.
High-quality transport services in all sectors depend on the consolidation and enforcement of passenger rights legislation across all modes. Following the completion of the legislative framework for passenger rights in all modes, the Commission will publish reports on the application of air passenger rights, and later in 2011 bring forward guidelines on the common interpretation of passenger rights across all modes.