Hong Kong’s bad roadside pollution makes case for electric vehicles

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 5:23pm

It is hard to believe that any intelligent person could convincingly state that electric cars are more polluting than petrol or diesel vehicles.

Nobody can dispute the fact that our roadside pollution is of great concern to every member of our society as our public health is at stake. The choking effect that one experiences, when walking alongside passing cars and buses or driving alongside or behind them with our car windows wound down, leaves little doubt to their direct contribution towards the intolerable quality of their exhaust air that is most damaging to our lungs and general well-being.

The asphyxiating effect of such conventional vehicle exhaust emissions results in severe ill health, particularly to our asthmatic patients who fill our hospitals’ chest wards and cost our city and taxpayers a great deal of money, in addition to the indirect cost due to related absenteeism from the workplace.

Undoubtedly, our power stations need to generate the additional electric power to recharge electric vehicle batteries. However, this is centrally done in remotely located power stations, such as Lamma Island and Castle Peak ( Black Point), miles away from the densely populated areas of Hong Kong. Through the choice of less polluting fuel mix and the use of electro-static precipitators, the level and quality of emissions from the power plants can be, and is, tightly monitored, with our public health in mind.

If we allow them the necessary flexibility to select the use of less polluting fuel, such as natural gas, in preference to coal, which is much cheaper, we would benefit from an even cleaner environment in Hong Kong. This inevitably comes with a price that we have to accept through higher tariffs for the electricity we consume.

Hong Kong missed the opportunity of being a world leader in the use of electric vehicles, but it is certainly never too late.

Shalom Levy, Tsim Sha Tsui