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  • Updated: 1:25am
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ENVIRONMENT

Chance to host Formula E electric car race missed as pollution soars

Chance to host prestigious Formula E event for electric vehicles is missed on same weekend that near-record levels of smog are recorded

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 March, 2013, 5:52am

As pollution levels approached the worst ever recorded in Hong Kong, the government has snubbed a bid to bring one of the world's most environmentally friendly and high-profile sporting events to the city.

The air pollution index at the roadside station in Causeway Bay peaked at 202 yesterday, the second highest level since recordings began 18 years ago.

Readings taken in Central and Mong Kok reached highs of 182 and 146 respectively.

Other stations in Hong Kong also recorded very high levels, and the Environmental Protection Department told people to limit their activities on busy streets as roadside air pollution was severe.

But the bad news did not end there. Formula E Holdings, promoter of the Formula E Championship, also made public its preliminary list of eight cities selected to host races next year - omitting Hong Kong.

The races will feature cars powered exclusively by electric energy. Hong Kong had been regarded by organisers as an ideal venue, but the government was not interested.

"Hong Kong will not be hosting a race next year. We can only hope the government will be more motivated in the future," said Alejandro Agag, chief executive of Formula E.

"We were just left waiting and had to make a decision."

Agag said his organisation provided government consultants with all the relevant details - such as the cost and how long streets would need to be closed - but heard nothing back. "It's hard to consider Hong Kong as a venue when they don't express their interest or contact us," he said.

The lawmaker for the tourism sector, Paul Tse Wai-chun, said the government had missed out on an opportunity to improve the city's image internationally.

"It would have been perfect to announce we were hosting a Formula E race here after the recent pollution problems. But all we have is even more bad publicity."

Cities included in the Formula E preliminary calendar are London, Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, Putrajaya (in Malaysia), Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

A spokesman for the Tourism Commission said that at this stage it was premature for them to comment on whether it was feasible for an event like Formula E to be staged in Hong Kong and whether it would receive government support.

"We work to attract mega events and activities to Hong Kong to enrich our overall tourism appeal and reinforce our status as the event capital in Asia," he said.

Meanwhile pollution levels here are destined to remain high. Light winds mean the smog will not subside for a few days.

An Environmental Protection Department spokesman advised people with heart or respiratory illnesses to avoid staying in areas with heavy traffic.

"Everyone is advised to avoid prolonged stays in these areas and to reduce physical exertion in such areas," he said.

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sdwesley3
We think this race, in a city such as Hong Kong would eventually bring millions of dollars to the Chinese government, through race revenues. After-all, It has attracted us... and we could help with your pollution problems by getting rid of the CO2 that is being emitted from your manufacturing facilities. We are MP BioMass and we have a zero emissions system, capable of eliminating all pollutants except nuclear waste. We can even collect coal ash and fly ash and thermal chemically process it as well.
Plus, while doing so, we can create three renewable energy sources that would be created in large abundance with a guaranteed ROI of 5 years or less on the cost of this system. We have an international patent on this, and we had our first commercialized system put into place in 2003. Backed by the SACE Group for its reliance and guarantee that it will do what we say it will do. Please visit us at: www.mpbiomass.com
oxymoron1
Even with the pollution index skyrocketed over the years Hong Kong still ranks among the highest longevity world wide. Statistics don't lie. Mysteries abound. Besides, the stress level in workplace and unregulated diet would probably kill you first ( Cancer ) before your lungs collapsed from an overdose of pollutants. Mysteries abound furthermore, indeed. Therefore what's the fuss ?
megafun
a useless Gov which ought to at least respond to an event that alot of locals like:- motor-racing. I bet if there is a vote, it will indicate more support for a motorsport event - similar to Macau GP, than say the "International dragon Boat" race or even an Asian Game.
andrewkt
HK should rise up to the challenge and move forward. Since our launching of the new airport and Disneyland over a decade ago, we have not had anything else in the international arena that can promote our city. Macau, Shanghai and Singapore have all caught up. Per the article, pollution is not the main issue here. It was the lack of response from the government is what should worry us.
maecheung
"... the government had missed out on an opportunity to improve the city's image internationally." We don't need this racing event at all to improve our city's image. While electric cars have zero emission on the roads, yet electricity generation (using coal or even natural gas) in Hong Kong is a huge source of air pollution. Furthermore, car racing, whether it is gas or electric power, is a waste of energy period!
ejmciii
Interesting that you would refer to the generation of electricity as being a "huge source of air pollution." I am trying to figure out how that is. The coal plants here all have de-sulfurization units and precipitators that take out 99+% of the ash in the stack emissions. Gas plants have little to no sulfur output and no ash at all. All generate CO2 but that does nothing to cause the 2.5 particulate that is the problem now. Now as to whether auto racing is a waste of energy is a value judgment that you make but I cannot see how the particulate problem that is what we are really contending with comes from the power generation in HK. The mainland coal plants are different as they have no such remediation but why would our particulate problems be growing while the Mainland operations are contracting. The only logical answer I can see is that it is the vehicles that ply our roads, especially buses and lorries. A high percentage of local buses are running on CNG but there are many going across the border that appear to run on diesel. The same with the lorries and diesel combustion gives the highest level of particulate (as well as sulfur and CO2). Seems like having more focus on electric and CNG vehicles and a platform to launch same would be worthwhile.
megafun
Devices to reduce air pollution is a waste of our money, since we pay for them via the monopoly power-players. GHG / CO2 is alot more worrying and yet we do not include them as "emissions" to be controlled!
napoleon_wang
now hongkong's air is same as mainland's air.perhaps it is harmful for hongkong's tourism.but hongkong is duty-free place.luxury is relatively cheap in hongkong.its competive is still powerful.I keep optimistic about hongkong's future.
ianson
Racing electric cars is not worthy of a great deal of attention. What would be infinitely more productive would be for government to take steps to encourage provision of charging sockets in the garages of buildings, particularly residential buildings, throughout Hong Kong. While range fear is a factor, what is much more daunting to prospective buyers is that they simply have no means of charging an EV even if they're good and ready to buy one. Simple household 13A sockets are all that's required, nothing fancy. At least make this a prerequisite for all new building approvals. NOW!
rpasea
Good. Govt should shut down its mega events fund completely as it has become nothing more than a subsidy for corporate sponsors.

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