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Polluting diesel vehicles used by the commercial sector will be taken off the streets

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Why is diesel now bad news?

8 December 2014

Roger Harrabin

The Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo wants to ban diesel cars and the pollution they bring from the streets of the French capital. But not long ago, diesel engines were thought to be environmentally friendly. What could have gone wrong?

Opinion on diesel cars has swung widely over the years.

Diesel is a more efficient fuel than petrol, but in the past diesel engines were often noisy and dirty.

Then, with growing concerns over climate change, car manufacturers were urged to produce cleaner, quieter diesel cars to capitalise on their extra fuel efficiency.

The cars were fitted with a trap to catch the particles of smoke associated with the fuel. Several governments rewarded the manufacturing improvements by incentivising the purchase and use of diesel cars.

But the policy has backfired.

Going into reverse

First, there have been problems with the particle traps – some drivers have removed them because they sometimes don’t work properly unless the car is driven hot.

Second, the diesels are still producing nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which irritates the lungs of people with breathing problems. Diesels make several times more NO2 than petrol cars.

Now, in order to meet European air pollution laws, politicians are being forced into an embarrassing U-turn, telling drivers that they’ve decided they don’t much like diesels after all.

MPs in the UK have mooted a scrappage scheme for diesel cars, while the mayor of Paris has called for a ban.

Several European nations are currently in breach of EU clean air laws.

The EU’s NO2 limit was exceeded at 301 sites in 2012, including seven in London. The concentration on Marylebone Road was more than double the limit.

Districts in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Paris, and Rome are also exceeded the ceiling.


Not just carbon: Key pollutants for human health

  • Particulate matter (PM): Can cause or aggravate cardiovascular and lung diseases, heart attacks and arrhythmias. Can cause cancer. May lead to atherosclerosis, adverse birth outcomes and childhood respiratory disease. The outcome can be premature death.
  • Ozone (O3): Can decrease lung function and aggravate asthma and other lung diseases. Can also lead to premature death.
  • Nitrogen oxides (NO2): Exposure to NO2 is associated with increased deaths from heart and lung disease, and respiratory illness.
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), in particular benzo a-pyrene (BaP): Carcinogenic.

Politicians are now scurrying to persuade the courts that they are obeying an EU demand to clean up the air as soon as possible.

The Paris mayor said at the weekend that she wanted the city to become ‘semi-pedestrianised’, with a ban on diesel cars in the city centre and some neighbourhoods given entirely to residents’ cars, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles.

“I want diesel cars out of Paris by 2020,” she said.

Ms Hidalgo hopes that her plan will improve the quality of the air in a city where, on average, people live six or seven months less than those who are not exposed to the same levels of pollution.

Adding electric vans and putting limits on tourist buses would also help lessen the public health risk, she said.

Premature death

Bikes are expected to become the favoured form of transport, with cycle lanes doubled by 2020 in a $141m (£90m) plan.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has promised to halve pollution, spending around $516m (£330m) to bring 2,400 hybrid buses, zero-emission taxis and 10,000 street trees. The announcement came weeks after he was forced to accept that Oxford Street has some of the highest levels of NO2 in the world.

Central London will also have an ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ in 2020. Mr Johnson has previously faced criticism from health and environment lobby groups complaining that he was dragging his feet in meeting EU targets.

The UK government says it is responding to EU demands by bringing forward new plans. Labour say the government has ignored the issue – they demand low-emissions zones in all of the UK’s major cities.

According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution is the top environmental risk factor for premature death in Europe; it increases the incidence of a wide range of diseases.

Particulate matter (PM) and ground-level ozone (O3) are the most harmful pollutants.

Vehicles are by no means the only source of pollutants – some industries are major polluters too, and shipping in some places. But the politicians who run Europe’s biggest cities have protested that they cannot control pollution from industry elsewhere that drifts into their area.

With so many nations failing to meet pollution laws, the EU is under pressure to relax air standards.

Taxpayer funds the Hybrid Green Technology import instead of Govt making tougher laws and Clean Air Zones to make the bus companies buy hybrids

For discussion FCR(2011-12)4
on 15 April 2011

Subhead 700 General non-recurrent
New Item “Trial of Hybrid Buses by Franchised Bus Companies”

Members are invited to approve the creation of a new
commitment of $33 million for funding the full cost of
procuring six hybrid buses for trial by the franchised
bus companies in Hong Kong.


Franchised buses are one of the major causes of roadside air pollution
on busy corridors. We need to implement improvement measures to reduce
emissions from franchised buses.


2. The Director of Environmental Protection, with the support of
the Secretary for the Environment, proposes to create a new commitment of
$33 million to fund the full cost of procuring six hybrid buses to be used by the
franchised bus companies for trial along busy corridors to assess their operational
efficiency, emission performance and economic feasibility in local operational

3. Subject to the funding approval by the Finance Committee, we plan
to work with the franchised bus companies to procure six hybrid buses in this year.
Allowing one year for delivery, the trial could commence within 2012.

Bloomberg: Hong Kong’s Pollution Near 6-Month High (Nov 2013)

from David Ingles, reporting for Bloomberg on the high levels of air pollutants in Hong Kong’s air last month.

Jason Lerwill, an air specialist at Renaud Lifestyle Products (retailers for air purifier systems), mentions three major contributors to air pollutants in the city: shipping in the Pearl River Delta, roadside pollution, and factory emissions across the border. Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment, speaks enthusiastically about policies to reduce vehicle emissions, but mentions nothing about shipping and factory emissions.

4 Nov 2013

SCMP Editorial: Time for action in battle to clear roads of polluting vehicles

A revised government plan for improving air quality by getting the 84,000 dirtiest, or pre-Euro IV commercial diesel vehicles off our roads is going to take a year longer – until 2020 – despite an increase of HK$3 billion, or more than 33 per cent, in the cost to taxpayers. Lawmakers, understandably, put up a fight for the original deadline of 2019, but Legco’s environmental affairs panel was right in the end to unanimously endorse the revised scheme.

Devised to help meet tougher air-quality objectives to take effect next year, the plan is cash-incentive-based and therefore depends ultimately on the co-operation of fleet and vehicle owners. The transport trades criticised the original terms, asking for more money, more flexibility and more time, while green groups wanted early implementation. The industry may be seen to have prevailed in the revised plan. But if it works the community will be the real winner in a battle against air pollution in which we badly lag international benchmarks.

The government originally proposed ex gratia payments ranging from 10 per cent to 30 per cent of a vehicle’s replacement cost, with retirement deadlines beginning in 2016 and ending in 2019 for Euro III vehicles. Raising the subsidies to a range of 27 to 33 per cent and extending retirement deadlines by a year will, hopefully, meet the concerns of some in the trade that the terms were harsh on livelihoods. This will raise the estimated cost from HK$8.7 billion to HK$11.7 billion.

In addition, the new approach will limit the service life of newly registered vehicles to 15 years. Officials say these measures and the retrofitting of 1,400 franchised buses with diesel emission controls should significantly reduce roadside pollution, including tiny airborne particles most harmful to health, towards the end of the decade. Given that more than 3,000 people are estimated to die prematurely each year because of bad air, we trust the government has struck the right balance of carrot and stick. For the sake of our health it is time for action, not more talk.

5 Oct 2013


Subsidies lift for new diesels

The government will increase subsidies to encourage owners of old heavily polluting commercial diesel vehicles to replace them with new models amid a poor response, a government source said.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The government will increase subsidies to encourage owners of old heavily polluting commercial diesel vehicles to replace them with new models amid a poor response, a government source said.

Depending on the type of vehicle to be replaced, the government will pay 27 to 33 percent of the cost of the new vehicle – up from the previous 10 to 30 percent.

In his 2013 policy address, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying proposed setting aside HK$10 billion as subsidies to 80,000 owners of pre-Euro and Euro I to III diesel vehicles to phase them out.

The scheme would reduce the overall emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

In the original proposal, owners would receive subsidies of 18 to 30 percent of the replacement cost, while those who wanted to junk the old vehicles would get only 10 to 18 percent.

Under the new proposal – to be announced as early as today – all owners of pre-Euro vehicles will get 27 percent of replacement cost, while owners of Euro I, II and III receive 30 to 33 percent.

The new proposal may cost more than HK$10 billion, but the source said the government believes it would be more effective in improving air quality.

Industry representatives welcomed the government’s proposal, saying it will give owners more choice.


Hong Kong Will Ban Dirtiest Diesel Vehicles From City Limits

January 2, 2013 By Christopher DeMorro Leave a Comment


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It doesn’t take a genius to link air pollution with old vehicles, and the powers-that-be in Hong Kong have tried for decades to reduce the constant smog smothering one of the world’s most populated cities. Now a new initiative will ban the dirtiest diesel vehicles from the city limits while offering companies financial incentives for modernizing their delivery fleets.

While Hong Kong’s ruling party hasn’t laid out specifics, city leaders have noted that since air quality goals were enacted 25 years ago, the city has not met its own self-imposed goals once. In fact, last year saw 175 days of “high pollution” days, meaning almost half of 2012 was spent under a cloud of smog and engine emissions. While Hong Kong says that just 3,000 premature deaths a year are attributed to heavy pollution, the real number is probably a lot higher.

The main factor is the more than 120,000 diesel-powered heavy vehicles, including delivery trucks and buses, that operate in the city limits. 40% of these vehicles are older diesel models that comply with the Euro II model, emitting more than 12x the emissions that more modern diesel vehicles complying with the Euro V standard. While it is cheaper to run these older diesel vehicles rather than replace them, the long term health costs to society as a whole can no longer be tolerated, even in places like China, where the welfare of the working class is rarely cause for concern.

Hong Kong plans to get companies to phase out these older diesel vehicles by offering substantial government subsidies, while banning older diesel vehicles from operating in the city limits. City leaders hope that threat of banning businesses from operating their fleets in Hong Kong proper, along with generous subsidies, will lead to a cleaner, greener fleet of modern diesel vehicles. Other efforts to clean up air pollution include Hong Kong’s police department buying and using a fleet of Brammo electric motorcycles, which have been met with unabashed enthusiasm.

Other cities, including Paris, France and London, England have experimented with ways of reducing urban congestion and pollution. While London enacted a congestion charge for downtown that exempts EV and plug-in hybrid vehicles, Paris has talked about banning older, larger, and dirtier vehicles from the city limits, though without the draconian efficiency of Hong Kong. Beijing has also toyed with such

If Hong Kong’s efforts prove fruitful, other cities could follow their model. But it could also drive the cost of doing business in Hong Kong up as well. Will business owners adapt, fight, or flee these new stringent diesel restrictions?

Source: Bloomberg

Smoky old diesels en route to ban

Older diesel vehicles will be banned from Hong Kong roads under a “carrot and stick” plan, environment minister Wong Kam-sing said yesterday.

Winnie Chong and Choya Choy

Friday, October 19, 2012

Older diesel vehicles will be banned from Hong Kong roads under a “carrot and stick” plan, environment minister Wong Kam-sing said yesterday.

Wong’s comments came a day after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government would consider “tighter control over and the eventual phasing out of old buses and commercial vehicles.”

It also came as the roadside air pollution index topped 130 in Central, prompting health warnings for a ninth day running.

Wong noted that the mainland has set a deadline for discontinuing licenses for commercial diesel vehicles that are 15 years old.

“We can have a carrot and stick to guarantee that we would achieve the air quality by a certain time, say we are setting a target for 2015, so that we have to have an effective measure to phase out those old diesel commercial vehicles,” he said.

Wong said 80 percent of roadside air pollution comes from diesel commercial vehicles.

Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh Kung-wai said the government is thinking of “specific formulas” for franchised buses, non- franchised buses, school buses, tourist buses and trucks that use diesel.

The proposals could be ready next month, she said, adding that setting age limits for such vehicles will be legislated.

Hong Kong Guangdong Transportation Association secretary Tse Long said the government should cover at least one-third of the cost of upgrading their fleets and pay for the entire cost of discarding the old trucks.

“It should be same as the practice for poultry vendors who surrender their licenses,” he said.

Kowloon Truck Merchants Association chairman Leung Kun-kuen said such a move would force truck drivers out of work and operators to close down as they would not be able to afford HK$700,000 to HK$800,000 to buy new vehicles.

Government figures show there are about 140,000 commercial diesel vehicles, which account for 20 percent of road traffic.

There are more than 30,000 trucks aged 15 years old, comprising about 30 percent of existing trucks.

Friends of the Earth senior environmental affairs manager Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung said: “The measure certainly will help improve the air quality.”

Clean Air Network campaign manager Patrick Fung Kin-wai hoped the government will set a concrete timetable and provide a scrapping incentive for vehicle owners to replace their cars. A truck operators’ alliance will meet officials next week.

Download PDF : img-X19104802stand

Tough measures considered to get old diesel vehicles off Hong Kong’s roads


Submitted by admin on Oct 19th 2012, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Jennifer Ngo

Officials may consider not renewing licences for commercial trucks more than 15 years old that contribute hugely to pollution in the city

The government is considering adopting tough measures to phase out old diesel-powered commercial vehicles to help tackle declining air quality.

Environment secretary Wong Kam-sing said yesterday that the government would consider policies such as those on the mainland of not renewing licences for diesel-powered vehicles more than 15 years old.

About 60,000 Euro I and Euro II emission-standard vehicles, from 12 to 18 years old, are still operating in the city. Euro I emission standards were introduced for buses and truck in 1992. Euro II levels aimed to reduce permitted emissions by up to 30 per cent compared with Euro I. Euro VI will be introduced next year.

“Roadside pollution is most problematic [in Hong Kong],” Wong said. “We need policies to specifically deal with it [if we need to tackle air pollution [as] 80 per cent of pollutants come from old diesel-run vehicles.”

Wong’s comments came after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told the Legislative Council on Wednesday that tackling pollution would be a major concern. Leung also said the government would implement policies to phase out old diesel-run vehicles.

Government reports show that road transport accounted for 286 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emissions in 2010, up from 271 tonnes in 2009.

“We hope to set some timetables and goals,” said Wong, but further communication with the transport industry and Legco would be needed.

Transport unionist and truck driver Stanley Chaing Chi-wai said: “To improve the air quality [in Hong Kong] is not just about tackling transport.

“Right now, if our trucks comply with transport and environmental rules and emissions are below the allowed level, we can continue to drive our vehicles,” said Chaing. Trucks were checked on an annually, he said.

If licences were not renewed for diesel vehicles more than 15 years old, this would contradict existing regulations, he said.

Truck driver Tse Long said: “If [there is a 15-year vehicle age limit for licensing], some people will probably go to court about it.”

Tse said more incentives were needed, not tough measures.

He said a government scheme to subsidise drivers willing to upgrade to a newer truck model offered inadequate funding.

Increasing subsidies would be more effective in getting old diesel trucks off the road, rather than imposing a new licensing regime.

According to the Environmental Protection Department’s latest figures, only 10 per cent of 120,000 commercial diesel vehicles are covered in the subsidy scheme. It only pays for 18 per cent of new vehicles.

In 2010, then acting secretary for the environment Dr Kitty Poon Kit proposed higher fees for older vehicles to get them off the road. But the plan was scrapped.



old diesel vehicles

Wong Kam-sing

Source URL (retrieved on Oct 19th 2012, 6:10am):

Ageing diesel vehicles banned in anti-pollution drive


Submitted by calum.gordon on Oct 18th 2012, 7:16pm

News› Hong Kong

Lai Ying-ki

The government is planning to phase out old diesel vehicles to reduce roadside pollution, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said on Thursday.

Wong said one option that can be adopted from overseas and the mainland was to discontinue the licenses of diesel vehicles which have reached 15 years old.

“We hope to draw up a retirement age [for these vehicles],” he said, adding that diesel vehicles contributed to 80 per cent of pollutants at roadsides.

He said overseas authorities on one hand offered incentives to encourage owners to phase out diesel vehicles and on the other hand introducing a cap on their time in use.

“We will discuss incentives with industry stakeholders, and see how to balance their business and Hong Kong’s air pollution,” he said.

The environment minister spoke of the new initiative as roadside air pollution indices have reached the “very high” level of 100 in three busy districts in the past nine days.

The Environmental Protection Department warns people with heart or respiratory illnesses against physical exertion and outdoor activities when the indices reach this level.

Wong also said his bureau was now drawing up a target for reducing roadside pollution in 2015.

Source URL (retrieved on Oct 19th 2012, 5:13am):