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Hong Kong environmental issues

Give commercial electric vehicles more support in Hong Kong, environmental advisers urge government

  • Members of Advisory Council on the Environment say government could push harder on replacing traditional commercial vehicles
  • Commercial vehicles, including goods trucks, buses and taxis, account for about 95 per cent of all vehicular emissions
PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2018, 10:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 11:09am

Environmental advisers have urged the Hong Kong government to provide more infrastructural support for new energy vehicles, especially electric commercial vehicles (e-CVs).

At a meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment on Monday, members said the government could push harder on replacing traditional commercial vehicles – the main source of roadside pollutants – with e-CVs, which have no tailpipe emissions.

Commercial vehicles, including goods trucks, buses and taxis, accounted for about 95 per cent of all vehicular emissions, including respirable suspended particulates and nitrogen oxides, despite making up just 20 per cent of the total vehicle fleet, according to government statistics in 2016.

Although the government provided tax waivers and funding to support the use of e-CVs, the Environmental Protection Department said their relatively short battery life and long charging time limited their uses.

It said taxis were the biggest challenge because it took four hours to charge an electric one and one charge a day was not enough.

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But Professor Hung Wing-tat, one of the advisers and fellow of the Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies, said the problem could be solved by providing more charging stations. He noted that stations could be set up at places where drivers changed shifts.

“You don’t need to charge the car only once for a whole day,” he said. “The key point is you find a place where you can get the car charged whenever you want.

“Without the government’s strong participation, it’s not possible to develop new energy vehicles for public transport.”

According to the department, emission control measures on vehicles in recent years had seen roadside concentrations of key air pollutants fall by 28 to 32 per cent from 2013 to 2017.

However, the annual roadside nitrogen dioxide concentration was still at a level twice its Air Quality Objectives.

Council chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai and other members recognised the progress on roadside air quality over the past five years.

Also discussed at the meeting was a public consultation on the supply of recycled water.

The 60-day consultation, which runs until December 17, is on a proposal by the Development Bureau and Water Supplies Department (WSD) to use reclaimed water, treated grey water and harvested rainwater for flushing for the public and other non-potable uses such as landscape irrigation and car washing with a government permit.

The WSD said three public forums were held in Kowloon, Hong Kong and the New Territories in November. The government said the feedback and views received so far were positive and supportive of using recycled water locally.

Under the proposal, the authorities would recycle waste water for flushing without charging users, which would be the same as in the supply of salt water for flushing, which covers 85 per cent of the population.