BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI) wants to be more aggressive in promoting electric vehicles in Brunei, aiming to reach a target of 10 percent before 2035.

The urgency to reduce greenhouse gases — as part of the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement — is moving the issue forward, said MEMI Permanent Secretary (Energy) Hj Azhar Hj Yahya.

On the sidelines of a recent youth dialogue on climate change, the senior official said the government is still in the policy planning stage with regards to introducing electric vehicles to the country.

“Many countries have already pushed for this… However, for Brunei to execute this, we have to look at factors like infrastructure, where to install the charging points, the tax system and what type of [electric vehicles] we want to bring in,” he told The Scoop.

“Reaching 10 percent electric vehicles by 2035 is not aggressive enough, because that is still a long way to go. We want to have a more aggressive target, like reaching that 10 per cent by 2030 or maybe even earlier.”

Accessibility and affordability of electric cars will be key factors, he said, adding that it will be difficult to convince Bruneian drivers to get on board.

“Fuel is still relatively cheap in Brunei, which means there need to be other factors to entice drivers in converting to electric vehicles.”

Earlier this year, the government announced it would begin a pilot project to bring in electric vehicles, with fuel economy regulations expected to be introduced in 2023.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications, Hj Mohd Nazri Hj Mohd Yusof, said there will need to be public awareness campaigns to convince drivers to make the switch.

“Like it or not electric vehicles are coming. European car manufacturers are already making more of these than of normal cars.”

Recent statistics from the Land Transport Department recorded 282,345 vehicles on the road, 99 per cent of which used petrol and diesel fuel.

Approximately 1,960 hybrid and fuel-efficient cars have been registered in Brunei since 2012 — less than one percent of all vehicles on the road — but their impact has been able to save the government $1.4 million in fuel subsidies.

The transport sector accounts for approximately 12 percent of emissions in Brunei.

Under the Paris Agreement, the government has committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from morning peak hour traffic by 40 percent over the next 15 years.

According to a study done by Universiti Brunei Darussalam in 2011, Brunei has the highest per capita CO2 emissions in ASEAN, increasing at a rate of two percent per year.