Government sets 2035 target to pull the plug on sale of new gas-powered vehicles
The importation and sale of gas-powered vehicles could be banned by 2035 as part of a push towards the electrification of vehicles on the island.
Tom Oppenheim, the Deputy Governor, announced during the Throne Speech yesterday that the Government will consider a potential phasing out of internal combustion engine vehicles.
“The successful integration of electric buses into the public transport fleet has shown that these vehicles can transform how we move on the roads in quieter, more environmentally friendly ways,” he said.
“Therefore, during this session, the legislature will be invited to consider a National Electric Vehicle Policy and Strategy for Bermuda which will set out a plan to phase out the sale and importation of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035.”
Bermuda would not be alone in the move as the EU voted last month to phase out the sale of new combustion engine cars and vans by 2035.
William Madeiros, the managing director of Bermuda Motors, said he welcomed the move but said the island will have to make changes to adapt in the coming years.
“The year 2035 is going to be here a lot faster than people think it’s going to be, but it is good to have a target,” he said.
“We need to think about the real-life reality of this and what that means in terms of the island’s infrastructure and in terms of what electric or hybrid vehicles will be available.”
In addition to charging facilities for the vehicles, he said the island’s mechanics and vehicle technicians will need to be trained up and ready to service electric vehicles.
“We also have to think about the end of life for the batteries of these vehicles,” he said. “It would not be a good thing to just leave them lying around. These sorts of discussions need to take place.”
Mr Madeiros added that as more countries and companies move towards electric vehicles, combustion vehicles would become more difficult to obtain even without the change in Bermuda laws.
“We already have major manufacturers saying they will not be making combustion engines after a certain point,” he said.
The move was one of several environmentally minded announcements included in the Throne Speech, including a Bill intended to reduce single-use plastics on the island.
The Government previously announced plans to introduce a phased ban on single-use plastics to create the best results for the environment while minimising the economic impact of such a change.
Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said earlier this year that consultation was still under way to determine the best path forward.
The Government also announced that it would put forward amendments to the Clean Air Act intended to update air-quality standards, create new provisions for odour control and introduce penalties for non-compliance.
While the Government had previously pledged to establish stronger clean-air legislation to address concerns over Belco emissions, it has also been criticised for pulling funding for the only island-wide air pollution monitoring problem.
A Marine Development Act was also confirmed to be in the pipeline with the goal of establishing a framework for the management of the island’s marine spatial plan and the Blue Economy Fund, along with defining the investment model for the Green Energy Fund.
Discussions about the marine spatial plan are ongoing, with the public consultation period recently extended to December 31 over concerns raised by fishermen.
Amendments are also expected to the Electricity Act 2016 to create “Community Solar” — an investment opportunity which will use the Green Energy Fund to provide assess to solar power to families who would otherwise be unable to afford solar instillations.
The Waitt Institute, which has worked with the Government on the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Plan, discussed the potential of a community solar initiative last month as a means of producing cleaner, cheaper electricity.
The Government also plans to introduce regulations under the Pesticides Safety Act 2009 to create guidelines for the importation, sale, use and disposal of pesticides in Bermuda.