How movers can be shakers in Hong Kong's drive for cleaner air

Bruce Fox calls on logistics firms to voluntarily use modern vehicles that emit fewer pollutants

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 5:04am

Hong Kong is losing its status as the world's most competitive economy, according to recent reports. While it hasn't yet tumbled off the top 10, its regional rivals are increasingly gaining attention at the expense of a thriving Hong Kong.

Why? The deteriorating environment and its negative impact on health stand out as the main reasons.

A healthy environment is integral to the success of Hong Kong's economic performance, governance and innovation. As a major player in the moving industry, we know. While I'm pleased we're in the midst of one of our most successful financial quarters for Hong Kong, I'm concerned because the majority of revenue is coming from people leaving, not coming in.

As the logistics and transportation industries are the largest contributors to air pollutants in Hong Kong, we have a big responsibility.

Outdated Euro III models and older still make up two-thirds of total diesel vehicles on the road. A pre-Euro-III vehicle emits seven to 34 times as much particulate matter and 3.5 to 4.5 times as much nitrogen oxide. If all diesel vehicles were of at least Euro V standards, these figures would be dramatically reduc ed.

From a business perspective, a company has little to gain if all other players don't upgrade, given the high costs to renew a fleet of vehicles to higher Euro standards. But, working together, we have a lot to gain - better health, better competitiveness, and better sustainable revenue generation.

We don't need to look far for guidance; the shipping sector has shown leadership in curbing emissions through the Fair Winds Charter. This agreement urges ocean-going vessels to voluntarily switch to low-sulphur fuel while at berth and lobbies the government to regulate the industry. It has led not only to 17 shipping companies getting on board with a reduction in overall emissions, but to regulatory steps that make it financially sustainable for businesses.

In the removals industry, there has been some commendable government involvement to address roadside air pollution, most significantly with the publication of the recent clean air plan, but the pace is slow: Euro III and earlier models will come off the road only by 2019. Comparatively, the European Union has had Euro V emission standards in place since 2009 and is soon to implement Euro VI.

We can push the pace of reform and help shape government policy; we must, as an industry, pledge to voluntarily use only Euro V and VI vehicles and retire older models. Only by acting in concert can our industry operate in a sustainable fashion that benefits our customers, our employees and the communities in which we live and do business.

Bruce Fox is head of business development at AGS Four Winds