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ENVIRONMENT

Hong Kong to collaborate with WHO to measure success in pollution fight

City's new 'globally important' partnership with WHO to measure success in pollution fight and improvements in public health hailed by official

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 12:14pm

Hong Kong is to be the focus of a "globally important" link-up with the World Health Organisation to monitor the success of clean air policies in the city.

The aim is to develop a mechanism to measure changes in air quality and the public's health.

The idea comes as the city plans to introduce what could be the world's biggest diesel vehicle replacement scheme to improve roadside pollution at a cost of nearly HK$12 billion. It is one of a series of measures included in a comprehensive seven-year blueprint to tackle Hong Kong's environmental problems that was launched in March.

Dr Carlos Dora, a co-ordinator at the WHO's Department of Public Health and Environment, said: "We are interested in documenting what policy measures are introduced and what follows in terms of changes in air quality.

"It is about connecting different data sources over time and creating a system to track changes in policy and improvements in the quality of the air and people's health."

Dora, who met Hong Kong officials during a visit last week, added: "The WHO believes it is important globally and we see Hong Kong has a reason and the means to do that."

Dora said the clean air plan rolled out by the government was a "very good" one as it clearly identified problems.

He also suggested that the wider benefits of some clean air policies be taken into account in evaluating new policies.

The benefits could include reductions in noise pollution and traffic injuries and an increase in people's physical activity.

Dora also dismissed worries that the pending introduction of a new health-based air pollution alert system could hamper the city's competitiveness by revealing how frequently it suffered from poor air quality.

The city's Air Quality Objectives were updated this summer to tighten air quality standards first agreed in 1987 and will become effective next year.

WHO targets, which were updated in 2005, are included in the new objectives, most significantly those measuring and reporting the type and concentration of pollutants.

Dora said the mainland had demonstrated it was not afraid of releasing its fine particle pollution data, and such disclosure showed a commitment to accountability and improvement.

"To be clear, 'transparent' and 'accountable' in my dictionary is good," he said.

Estimates by the Environmental Protection Department show the number of days when a very high pollution level is indicated will increase several times under the new system.

Video: How to deal with Hong Kong's smog

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johnyuan
Is this picture of a WHO official with shadows cast on his face means something? Why do it so deliberately? SCMP photographers are shooting for their own enjoyment or striving to get a medal in the next press competition?
KwunTongBypass
Talk, talk, talk, studies, plans, schemes, then some more talk, studies, evaluations, consultations, more talk, talk, talk, trips abroad, reports, studies, talk, more ideas, experts, more talk, international experts, politicians, more talk, talk, talk, talk, then more evaluations, consultations, new schemes, more talk, more talk, more talk............
rpasea
"The idea comes as the city plans to introduce what could be the world's biggest diesel vehicle replacement scheme to improve roadside pollution at a cost of nearly HK$12 billion."
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There are 2 reasons for this statement: a) other jurisdictions do not subsidize private bus companies with vehicle replacement. HK's bus companies are just waiting for the best handout before replacing their aging fleets. And b) our govt has done NOTHING but talk for the past 15 years when during this time the entire fleet could have been replaced over this period.
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This WHO link now gives govt the opportunity to waste a few more years talking about the problem instead of taking action. We have the money; let's just nationalize the bus companies and make the fleet part of Mass Transit Bus Corporation, a wholly owned govt corporation operating our bus fleet as a non-profit for the benefit of HK citizens.
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While govt is at it, it can buy out the minority shareholders in the MTRC and turn MTRC into a non-profit company as well. What business does MTRC have in investing in rail systems in China as was in the Post a few days ago?
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Ditto for the Airport Authority.....I could go on and on.
dynamco
Our major polluter is Ocean Going Vessel shipping in the world’s busiest merchant lanes through HKG’s waters
Our prevailing winds are easterlies so the krap blows right over us including into roadsides which shows why Tap Mun is always showing high NOx
Euro 5 diesel is 0.005 parts per million sulphur whereas bunker fuel is 2.75-4% sulphur.
Without an Emissions Control Area for shipping (USA ECA is 200 miles) the ships will continue to belch sulphur & RSP particulates into the air
Our developer friendly former administrations allowed downtown business areas to be overbuilt with no space to allow the wind into the urban canyons they create so pollutants are trapped.
China is building highly polluting incinerators over the border.
The WHO study will have some serious contributors to include.
johnyuan
Using WHO as a go between Hong Kong and Shenzen is good if Hong Kong government stands up for its rights.
The vessel polluters are in focus by the government and have rules in banning the polluter.
For road vehicles we must keep an eye on the government not colluding with the oil suppliers anymore. I still stand on my suspicion the very close relationships between them once upon a time.
johnyuan
One more excuse not taking complete and immediate actions against air pollution by bringing in experts from WHO. We are led to believe that good thing can wait. Hong Kong needs political courage to take on the vested interests to eliminate air pollution. Get rid of the current franchise (it must has had tremendous political clout) which operates Mobil/Shell/Exxon in Hong Kong. I suspect they once stood against the use of LPD even after good result for decades in use in Japan. Do you all think an international health guy can take on the local business interests successfully? Wrong medicine. But burning real not paper money for the dead and alive.

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