Smog blanketed Hong Kong for a second day yesterday as trapped vehicle emissions and sunshine triggered the worst street-level air pollution in 18 months. Environmental officials said Hong Kong would not breathe easier in the near future - despite Tung Chee-hwa's high-profile green Policy Address six months ago that made clean air a priority. The Air Pollution Index peaked at 162 on the streets of Central late yesterday - just five points off the highest reading of 167 in September 1998. All over the city pollution hovered above the dangerous 100 mark for a second day. Local vehicle emissions account for 75 per cent of air pollution and have been rising for 10 years - even as the SAR's worst industrial polluters moved to Guangdong. 'These kind of days are nasty,' said Kim Salkeld, Deputy Secretary at the Food and Environment Bureau. 'There were only two days when roadside pollution [on the index] was under 50 in the past year and I know whenever it's above 50, hospitals see increased admissions.' A mixture of low wind, vehicle exhaust and sunshine produced yesterday's pollution. There was just enough wind for Guangdong's smog to drift over, but not enough to disperse it. Many believe the combination of local efforts to curb vehicle emissions and cross-border co-operation on mainland pollution proposed by Mr Tung are not working because neither side will confront the issue of balancing economic development and environmental protection. 'Every government faces this issue, but the difference here is that Hong Kong can afford these measures, and so can Guangdong,' said William Barron, associate professor at the centre of urban planning and environmental management at the University of Hong Kong. 'It is a trade-off and no one wants to do anything that will affect the cost of doing business.' In his Policy Address, Mr Tung outlined a plan to reduce particulate emissions by 80 per cent by 2005 and decrease nitrogen oxide levels by 30 per cent. He earmarked $1.4 billion to give taxi drivers incentives to switch to liquefied petroleum gas and to install it on existing vehicles. While vehicle checks have increased, Legco has yet to release any of the funds for taxi grants because of pressure from transport industry lobby groups. Controlling emissions from the mainland will be hard. The Chief Executive outlined six co-operative measures which focused on exchanging technicians and scholars to study the sources of pollution in the Pearl River Delta. However, a major problem is that the SAR negotiates with Guangdong authorities, while decisions about pollution control are made on a local level in the Pearl River Delta, said Professor Carlos Lo Wing-hung of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's management department. 'There's been no concrete action in the past couple of years - it stops at exchanges,' he said. 'Investors don't have to worry about an impact from environmental protection - we haven't even made any small steps.' The new chairwoman of the Hong Kong Tourist Association Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said she was sure the Government was doing everything it could to eradicate pollution, but added: 'Just telling us that it will take time will not put minds at ease. 'Implementation must be speeded up as soon as possible.'