Transport unions warn against blanket policy on diesel standards

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 5:17am

Transport unions have urged environment officials not to introduce a blanket policy on phasing out old, polluting diesel vehicles and to focus on corporate fleets first.

They said a mandatory and across-the-board approach would deprive drivers of their ability to make a living.

The call was made by unionist lawmaker Tang Ka-piu, who met environment minister Wong Kam-sing yesterday with representatives from the Motor Transport Workers General Union and Container Transportation Employees General Union.

Tang said he was told the government planned to meet its new air quality objectives by 2015 and diesel vehicles that cannot meet Euro IV emission standards would be targeted in the upcoming policy address.

Tang said the government was prepared to make a generous offer to phase out these vehicles but he believed no decision has been made on how much.

But half the 88,000 diesel vehicles older than Euro IV - emission standards introduced in Europe in 2005 - were owned by individuals and scrapping them would put some drivers out of work.

"Officials should consider removing the vehicles in phases, first focusing on the corporate fleet and after that the individuals," he said.

Tang said the measures should be designed to address the needs of different transport trades. For instance, the school bus trade, which had recently been hit by high insurance fees, might require special attention. "The trade says they normally operate a few hours a day and they don't see the need for early replacements," Tang said.

The Environmental Protection Department did not comment on the meeting.