Cleaner air starting in 2016, environment officials say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 6:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 7:36pm

The Hong Kong government outlined its plan for improving the city’s air quality on Thursday, saying it will meet the plan’s objectives by 2020.

But the beneficial effects of the plan should start becoming apparent to Hong Kong people starting in 2016, said environment officials.

“Our goal is for Hong Kong to be among the best in the world in understanding air quality so that we can continue to fight air pollution aggressively,” said Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment.

The plan mainly focuses on reducing emmissions with “end of pipe solutions” for road transport vehicles and marine vessels, such as retrofitting buses by 2016 and legislating new clean fuel requirements for local and and ocean-going marine vessels over the next two years.

Even though a lot of the measures in the new plan have already been unveiled by the government or are currently being implemented, Christine Loh Kung-wai, Under Secretary for the Environment, disagreed that it was merely a repackaging of old measures.

Loh cited the new requirement that ocean-going vessels, including cruise ships, switch to cleaner fuel at berth as one of the new initiatives.

The plan in general, she said, “shows the intensity and determination of the government and sets out our priorities”.

Hong Kong’s internationally notorious air pollution is often cited as an obstacle to attracting overseas talent to the city.

Next year, the city will also introduce a new air pollution alert system that directly links the air pollution level with health hazards.