WHO will help set Hong Kong’s air quality goals
Government is believed to be calling in global experts as it sets out a seven-year road map
World Health Organisation experts will help set Hong Kong's air quality objectives, according to a schedule to be released by the Environment Bureau today, a source close to the government says.
The 40-page road map for Clean Air for Hong Kong will outline the targets and timetables for improving air quality.
The document, to be launched by Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing, will cover at least the next seven years and is expected to be the most comprehensive air quality blueprint for Hong Kong yet.
The plan will include government measures to curb emissions at local sources, from roads to marine transport and power generation. It will also highlight the need for co-operation with Guangdong in addressing regional smog caused by ground-level ozone pollution.
The source said it would also focus on the link between public health and air pollution, and the need for long-term local health studies, as well as possible funding sources for this research.
But room for new local measures seemed limited, as the bureau had recently already rolled out or announced a number of measures. These included phasing out old, polluting trucks by 2019, with the help of HK$10 billion earmarked by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
It is understood that the bureau has been shortlisting experts to review its objectives and advise on studies through the WHO's director general Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun.
"It is hoped the experts can help determine how far Hong Kong can go in setting the air quality targets," the source said. "[The road map] will also give ammunition to environment officials [trying to] improve air quality in future."
To highlight co-operation between different bureaus and departments, Wong will be joined in the announcement by Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, undersecretary for food and health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, and permanent secretary for development Wai Chi-sing.
"The Environment Bureau wanted to get Dr Ko Wing-man, the secretary for health and food, involved to highlight the importance of the issue. It is far more convincing for Ko to tell the public what is bad for their health than Wong," the source said.
But a spokesman for Ko said the health minister had to show up at another event that would clash with the press conference.
"Dr Ko will attend a doctors' event about Sars at Nethersole Hospital. He had promised to attend the event before the [press] conference was finalised," the spokesman said.
Early last year, environment officials announced new air quality targets to be introduced next year, but the Audit Commission said the targets were not sufficient to protect public health.
The officials also listed at least 19 measures to reach the targets, some of which are already in use.