• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 7:28pm

Targeted measures will improve Hong Kong air

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 4:24am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 5:11am

I would like to clarify the government's policy arising from your reports "HK's air 'will be much cleaner in five years'", "'Policy shift' needed to beat pollution at sea", and Tom Holland's "Even Hong Kong's best efforts may not help to clear our air" (February 12).

Our policy is to clean up local pollution, collaborate with Guangdong on dealing with regional air quality, and contribute to the national effort to fight air pollution. Hong Kong can do this because we have a good foundation in air science. We have also strengthened our capability in air quality and health through working with the World Health Organisation.

The greatest health threat arising from local air pollution is at roadside. This is why we are spending more than HK$11.4 billion on phasing out 82,000 pre-Euro 4 diesel commercial vehicles from March until 2019, retrofitting 1,400 franchised buses with selective catalytic reduction devices by 2016, and replacing catalytic converters for over 20,000 LPG-powered taxis and public light buses.

Your report was incorrect in saying the LPG programme "is expected to be approved by summer". When the scheme is completed by summer, we will see dramatic reduction in emissions from this particular fleet. Our overall vehicular fleet will be much cleaner when the other two schemes kick in.

We launched in September 2012 a three-year incentive programme to encourage ocean-going vessels to switch to cleaner fuel at berth in Hong Kong. In February, the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association and Hong Kong Shipowners Association also extended their voluntary Fair Winds Charter until year end. This should dovetail with legislation of mandatory fuel switching at berth by 2015.

Smaller local vessels will also use a cleaner fuel from April.

We target ships because they are now the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide in Hong Kong. Shipping emits more sulphur dioxide now than our power plants.

Our power plants will be cleaner still as Hong Kong decreases coal usage and increases natural gas use in electricity generation between now and 2019.

Holland says the above efforts may not help because China will continue to burn coal as its main energy source.

Emissions from Guangdong affect Hong Kong the most. Both places have agreed targets to reduce pollutant emissions by 2015 and 2020. We expect to meet them in light of all the efforts both sides are making. I have no doubt that this will improve air quality overall in Hong Kong.

Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment


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What are you going to do about the now almost unregulated private cars which clog up our streets and exacerbating road-side polliution?
Drivers parking and waiting illegally, engines idling, bus stops obstructed, hatched areas of road junctions blocked, even speeding, yes SPEEDING on some down-town roads when drivers race between traffic lights .... all with little fear of punishment.
And when are you going to introduce EU rules mandating inspections of Private Cars when they are two years old ( instead of "over six years" old which means in practice seven years old). Many of the exhaust systems on these private cars are defective and emit massive concentrations of poisonous gases.
The polluting and traffic-congestion causing cars also have to go!
All excellent news. Who will be responsible for testing fuel quality in boats, ships and vehicles entering HK waters and via our northern borders to ensure compliance?
Christine: on the bus replacement, my view is govt. should just take over the bus companies, consolidate into a new company wholly owned by govt. and keep KMB management to run the new company (they know how to run a bus company; the other players are property companies looking to make a fast buck). Why should taxpayers pay for the replacement of buses in private, for-profit companies? This sets a precedent that will come back to haunt us in another 15 years when the bus companies beg for govt. support yet again to replace their aging fleets. We have the money so let's just do it.
Not very scientific but a smell test walking along the central ferry piers suggests Discovery Bay ferries are still running on high sulfur fuel.
Hong Kong has no control over Guangdong. In fact Guangdong doesn't really have much control over Guangdong. No real progress is being made by Hong Kong power plants, the single biggest source of pollution. Guangdong's inadequacies will defeat Hong Kong's big plans.
All excellent news. Who will be responsible for testing fuel quality in boats, ships and vehicles entering HK waters and via our northern borders to ensure compliance?


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