This week's guest columnist On Cleaning Up The Mess, Minister of Housing and the Environment Dr ROODAL MOONILAL, gives us the news that Cabinet has approved the policy of greening the Priority Bus Route and tells us exactly what this means for citizens.
T&T's greenhouse gas emissions for the period 1990 to 2006 indicate that the energy, transportation and industrial sectors account for the bulk of carbon dioxide emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector alone have increased by 278 per cent over the period 1990 to 2006. As a small island developing state, Trinidad and Tobago is particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Sectors that are likely to be impacted are agriculture, human health, human settlements, coastal zones, and water resources as well as cross sectoral socio-economic systems. Statistics from the Licensing Division of the Ministry of Works and Transport indicate that there are approximately 630,000 vehicles in the country and this amount is being increased by approximately 30,000 annually.
Recognising the contribution of the transportation sector to greenhouse gas emissions, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has attempted to reduce emissions from the transportation sector by encouraging the increased use of alternative low carbon emission fuels such as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) by the establishment of economic incentives through the removal of Value Added Taxes (VAT) and import duties on CNG conversion kits. To enhance this effort, the Cabinet has recently agreed that the main artery of the road network utilised by public (buses) and private (maxi taxis) mass transportation, the Priority Bus Route, be converted into a "Green" route. Under this proposal it is envisioned that:
• All vehicles using the Priority Bus Route would be powered by either low carbon emission fuels (CNG), have zero emissions (electric power) or a combination of electric power and fossil fuel (hybrid power);
• All street lights along the Priority Bus Route would be converted to solar powered street lights; and
• All traffic lights along the Priority Bus Route would be converted to solar powered traffic lights.
The Priority Bus Route would be "greened" through the following phases:
• Exploring the feasibility of the Public Transport Service Cooperation (PTSC) replacing, in the first instance, its fleet of buses that operate on the priority bus route to electric buses.
• The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Cooperation (T&TEC) converting all street lights along the Priority Bus Route to solar powered street lights.
•The Ministry of Works and Infrastructure and/or Ministry of Transport converting all the traffic lights along the priority bus route to solar powered traffic lights.
• It is proposed that appropriate subsidies and exemptions be granted to support the adoption of electric powered vehicles (buses and cars) and hybrid vehicles (diesel /electric and gasoline/ electric hybrids) as an incentive for the private sector to acquire such vehicles, and further incentives be offered to ensure that future users wishing to be authorised for use of the bus route must be operating low emission or zero emission vehicles.
• The National Petroleum Marketing Company take the necessary steps to improve the fuel distribution infrastructure to make CNG readily available to facilitate adequate provision of services for vehicles on the bus route.
Globally, greenhouse gases are attributed to being the major cause of global warming and global climate change. Climate change projections for Trinidad and Tobago include higher temperatures and lower rainfall. In spite of its minuscule absolute emissions, Trinidad and Tobago is committed to playing its part as a responsible member of the global community.
Towards this end, the People's Partnership Government has adopted a Climate Change Policy, the implementation of which would increase the use of new and innovative technologies that have lower levels of emissions; encouraging the use of clean energy technology such as natural gas technology and clean production technology; encouraging the use of renewable energy that have zero emissions; and adopting more energy-efficient technologies and practices.