Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), said that import and other duties on hybrid and electric vehicles should be further adjusted as an incentive for Jamaicans and other Caribbean consumers to be able to purchase these vehicles and enhance fuel efficiency.
He emphasised that with the right type of public policy there is opportunity for more hybrid vehicles to be introduced into the region, which will use cleaner fuel or a combination of this fuel and other renewable fuel sources, such as bio-fuels.
“It is, therefore, an opportunity for the state to consider a further reduction of the duties on hybrid vehicles as an incentive to get more persons to make the switch,” he explained.
The JAA Chairman advanced the duty incentive during a presentation entitled, “Fuel Economy in the Caribbean: A Consumer Perspective,” at the recent Cleaner Fuels and More Efficient Vehicles Conference for the Caribbean, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, February 3-4.
He pointed out that while fuel costs will remain a major factor for consumers, the issue of global fuel efficiency should be elevated on the regional agenda through a public education campaign.
“This campaign will lift the discussion levels about the importance of fuel efficiency and cleaner fuels. This will help consumers to be far more aware of the implications about the social and economical benefits of cleaner fuels,” he noted.
In addition, he noted that there needs to be greater advocacy to support better vehicles and cleaner fuels being used in the region, supported by standards and policies that will support these efforts.
“Consumers are concerned about fuel efficiencies and achieving lower petrol consumption, while at the same time having high performance fuels. This is balanced by their health concerns, and they are prepared to have low lead and sulphur levels in their fuel,” Mr Jarrett stated further.
The two-day sub-regional workshop was initiated via the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) and the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI), and was organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the FIA Foundation and the CARICOM Secretariat.
Representatives from seven Caribbean and Latin American countries attended the conference to ascertain the status of the region, as it relates to cleaner fuels and efficient vehicles; and, further assist in the creation of national action plans, to support the implementation of policies for more efficient national fleets.
Joseph Williams, Programme Manager in the Energy Division of the CARICOM Secretariat, in his presentation, maintained that that in some small states, transportation energy use is more than 50% of the total energy used.
“In the context of imported fuel, if we are really serious about transformation of the energy sector, this should be the target, as in some cases, electricity only accounts for 25 – 30% of energy use,” he highlighted.
Other major presenters at the conference included Fulgence St. Prix of the Caribbean Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ); Elisa Dumitrescu of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Lew Fulton, Researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.
Based on the deliberations of the workshop, a report will be prepared; and the outcomes, with recommendations and next steps will be distributed to participants and relevant entities.