KUALA LUMPUR: The yearly hike in the number of vehicles clogging up city roads has resulted in a pressing need for the adoption of more green transport initiatives in Malaysia.
Currently, about 90 percent of vehicles in Malaysia are fossil-fuelled and land transport is known to be among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
This situation warrants more aggressive mobilisation of measures to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to green energy such as biofuels and energy harnessed from renewable sources such as solar, hydro and wind, said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia senior lecturer in electrical and electronic engineering Associate Prof Dr Sawal Hamid Md Ali.
Today, the government will unveil the National Transport Policy (NTP), which is a blueprint for the transport sector from 2019 to 2030.
According to media reports, the NTP’s vision is to develop a sustainable transport sector that accelerates economic growth and one of its main thrusts is moving towards a green transport ecosystem.
Budget 2020, which was tabled at the Dewan Rakyat last Friday, has allocated RM450 million to acquire up to 500 electric buses of various sizes for public transport in selected cities nationwide.
The NTP and budget allocation are proof of the government’s commitment towards creating greener cities for the well-being of the people, which is in line with its shared prosperity vision.
However, the number of environmentally-friendly vehicles currently plying on Malaysian roads and proposed under Budget 2020 is hardly sufficient to realise the true essence of the term green transport, said Sawal Hamid, who is attached to UKM’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Systems Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment.
To get there, he added, the government would need to formulate comprehensive short- and long-term steps to thrust Malaysia towards becoming a green technology nation.
The use of bicycles and electric cars, motorcycles, buses and trains (equipped with an ultra capacitor), as well as carpooling and walking constitute green transport measures.
“Although there are assertions that electric vehicles are not exactly ‘green’ because they need to be charged with electricity from the power grid, they still qualify as green transport as the electricity for charging the vehicles can be obtained from renewable sources like solar and hydro,” Sawal Hamid told Bernama.
He said it is for this very reason why the government should look into the use of green technology when implementing initiatives to encourage the use of electric vehicles.
“Presently, Malaysia mainly depends on coal for power generation,” he said.
MORE CHARGING STATIONS NEEDED
Following its participation in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009, the Malaysian government pledged a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 and 45 percent by 2030.
Some of the initiatives to achieve these targets are outlined in the National Electric Mobility Blueprint (2015-2030). By 2030, the government hopes to have 100,000 electric cars, 100,000 electric motorcycles and 2,000 electric buses on Malaysian roads, as well as 125,000 charging stations.
“However, we are still far from realising these targets. For example, as of September 2018, only 400 charging stations were made available, as against the target of 3,000 by end-2018,” pointed out Sawal Hamid.
He stressed that it is crucial to attain the target set for charging stations before achieving the electric vehicle targets.
He, however, said that Malaysia’s electric vehicle policy and tax cuts to encourage the use of such vehicles have placed the nation on the right track.
“However, the use of electric vehicles is not growing fast enough. Their high prices (despite the tax cuts) and shortage of charging stations are deterring people from using such vehicles,” he said.
The third national car project, with its focus on the electric or hybrid model, may lower their prices, he added.
INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS
Sawal Hamid also said that the government should raise public awareness about the importance of green technology to the environment and human life in general.
“Only when the public is aware will they start using green transport options,” he said, adding that the government should provide more environmentally-friendly modes of transport for the public.
“The use of electric or hybrid buses is a good option. Once people become more aware (of the benefits of green transport), they will start using public transport.”
Other green transport initiatives include providing a conducive environment for pedestrians and cyclists, which will encourage more people to walk or cycle to their destinations.
For the long term, the government should work towards planning and developing smart and sustainable cities, complete with first- and last-mile transportation, conducive pedestrian and cycling lanes and urban areas that are within walking distance, he added. -- Bernama