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  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:25am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 4:24am

Dirty diesel engines an obvious target for EPD

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

It's long been known that vehicles using old diesel engines cause a high proportion of Hong Kong's roadside pollution. This was confirmed by the release of Hong Kong's 2010 Air Pollutant Emission Inventory recently. It revealed that a relatively small number of old diesel-engined vehicles were causing a relatively high amount of roadside pollution.

The organisation Clean Air Network has worked on this information and calculates that commercial diesel vehicles - pre Euro, Euro I and Euro II - account for only 10 per cent of the vehicles on the road but account for 73 per cent of total roadside respirable suspended particulates (PM10) and 34 per cent of total roadside nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The reason for this is that the older engines are vastly more polluting than properly tuned newer engines. A pre-Euro engine, for example, produces 34 times more respirable particles than a Euro IV engine and 2.6 times more NOx. Even a Euro III engine produces five times more PM10 particles than a Euro IV and 1.4 times as much NOx.

If the network is right, getting rid of Euro II engines and those below it, would reduce PM10 particles by 73 per cent and a significant amount of NOx. According to the Hedley Environmental Index, the high level of roadside emissions in Hong Kong has resulted in an average of 3,200 avoidable deaths each year for the past five years.

This is a figure which the government has evidently felt quite comfortable with even though it exceeds by a long way the number of deaths due to bird flu, Sars, and swine flu, diseases that receive far more attention.

Getting rid of highly polluting vehicles is low-hanging fruit and is hopefully something that can be achieved relatively easily by the Environmental Protection Department.

Whiskey galore

PR Newswire has really gone to town with a piece on what it describes as "a game-changing collaboration" between Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Porsche Design Studio. In its best purple prose, PR Newswire extols the virtues of a promotional film to describe how this limited edition whiskey was made. Entitled "Engineering a bold new whiskey experience", "the film explores how this game-changing partnership between two modern-day icons was conceived to reveal an exquisite collection of unrivalled whiskey experiences".

We daresay that many of us could assemble a collection of "unrivalled whiskey experiences" but whether we would want them filmed is another matter.

Hung loses Silver Bauhinia

In the first case of its kind since the 1997 handover, we see that three individuals have had their honours removed. They include John Hung, the former managing director of Wheelock & Co who was jailed after being found guilty of accepting a bribe for speeding up someone's application to become a full Jockey Club member. He was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star in 1999. As well as losing his star, his appointment as a Justice of the Peace has been revoked, we see from the website of the ever-alert David Webb. In addition, Ringo Chiang Sai-cheong and Wu Wing-kai, who were also found guilty of corruption, have been deprived of their Medal of Honour. It is possible that this could prove to be the start of an embarrassing trend in Hong Kong.

Pantyhose warning

We read in the latest Oriental Aviation magazine an absorbing interview with Richard Champion de Crespigny, the captain of the Qantas A380 that had an engine explosion just after take-off in November 2010. Despite severe damage to the aircraft, he brought the plane down and landed with three tonnes of fuel on board without injuring anyone.

In the ensuing discussion about air safety, the article notes that when a Virgin Atlantic A330, which evacuated passengers at London's Gatwick Airport earlier this year by emergency slides because of a smoke warning in the cargo bay, 55 people were hurt, with injuries such as broken ribs and spinal and cranial injuries. Also, 40 women had pantyhose fused to their skin, caused by the speed of descending escape slides.

We notice this unpleasant prospect doesn't seem to deter female cabin crew from wearing this apparel. A sign of excessive confidence perhaps?

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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This article is now closed to comments

caractacus
The ICAC has only uncovered the tip of the corruption iceberg in Hong Kong, which grew exponentially under the previous administration. How much longer will the word "Independent" be a true description of its role when career civil servants keep being appointed Commissioner?
mankydanky
Stop the procrastination and just clean it up. Donald Tsang has destroyed enough lives already with his incompetence.
captam
I am surprised to hear Howard Winn repeating this unsubstantiated and unproven statement that only a small number of old diesel-engined vehicles are causing a relatively high amount of the roadside pollution. This fabricated evidence has being doing the rounds among environmental groups for years. The so-called "calculations" by CAN and others to justify this fallacy are guesstimates at best and have no accurate scientific basis because the distribution of these vehicles has not been taken into consideration. I repeat there will be barely any improvement in the dangerous road-side pollution levels until traffic congestion is dealt with by discouraging the use of the nearly half million private cars and vans on Hong Kong's narrow streets. Many of these cars have defective exhausts because they are never inspected as is the case any other sane developed country. This is required as soon as the car is 2 or 3 years old. In Hong Kong thousands of unroadworthy cars remain on our roads until they are 7 years old and then have just a cursory test to make sure their brakes, steering and lights still function.
hkcan
Tables showing the distribution of vehicles and their contribution to total roadside pollution can be found here: ****www.hongkongcan.org/doclib/Vehicle%20emission%20inventory_2012.pdf.
All of CAN’s calculations are based on data received from the Environmental Protection Department in October of 2012.
Respirable suspended particulates (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from private cars make up only four percent of total PM10 and NOx roadside emissions, even though there are a lot of private cars on the roads. The PM10 and NOx figures from commercial diesel vehicles, particularly light and heavy goods vehicles, are much higher, despite having a smaller presence on the roads.
wwong888
and your claims are substantiated up by what scientific facts and figures? isn't the point that we should do everything we can and getting rid of old diesel engines seems like a reasonable place to start?
 
 
 
 
 

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