Education is the key to reducing levels of roadside air pollution

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 September, 2010, 12:00am

There has been a call for motorists to stop driving their cars once a month to alleviate Hong Kong's air pollution problems.

It was reported that if 45 companies and 400,000 private car owners take part, this could reduce the city's carbon emissions by 660 tonnes a year ('Drivers urged to leave cars at home once a month', September 7).

My response to this Take a Brake Low Carbon Action campaign, is that, as always, it is easier said than done. It is a challenging task to make people get into the habit once a month of not driving their cars.

This campaign will face difficulties unless there is an adequate education drive that targets motorists.

The majority of drivers probably still think that electing not to drive one day month will not make a difference to our environment.

The small amounts of carbon emission an individual vehicle produces every day, when multiplied, comes to an enormous amount. That reduction, taking into account all the potentials involved in such a scheme, could help reduce roadside air pollution. If an education campaign makes motorists fully aware of what a car can do to the environment, they might have second thoughts before getting behind the wheel. Some of them may switch to public transport, if they think that a particular journey does not have to be made by car. Such a campaign would also hopefully change the mindset of those people who see driving as a status symbol.

The government should implement this education campaign without delay in order to raise drivers' level of awareness and help them realise that we must all work together to tackle the worsening air quality in the city.

The government can also take concrete measures to try to reduce the number of new cars on our roads by raising the first registration tax.

Given that there is an increasing demand for private cars, I would like to see electric vehicles being made more affordable.

However, we should not just focus on pollution caused by vehicles. All citizens have a role to play to help clean up our environment.

Siu Leung-wing, Shau Kei Wan