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May 21st, 2012:

+100% duty in HKG

The £670000 Porsche set to please petrolheads AND greens

Yahoo! Lifestyle UK – ‎51 minutes ago‎

For Porsche has released images of its new 201mph 918 Spyder which is set to be more economical than a Toyota Prius. It will be able to accelerate from 0-62mph in less than three seconds – making it faster than most supercars on the road

Businesses’ Biggest Hong Kong Complaints: Pollution, Schools

International Commerce Centre, center, stands surrounded by residential and commercial buildings on the Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong, China, on April 2, 2012.

Hong Kong’s government likes to boast of its “stable, business-friendly” environment. But a rising number of companies say there’s plenty of room for improvement.

A new survey conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce and marketing consultants TNS finds that while 96% of the Chamber’s 500 member companies call the business environment “somewhat” or “very” satisfactory, the performance of the city’s government comes in for a drubbing.

Only 48% of members polled believe that the government has the right strategy to maintain and enhance Hong Kong’s economic competitiveness, a drop of 11% from last year.

For example, though English remains an official language in this former British colony, which returned to Chinese control in 1997, just half of Chamber members were satisfied with the government’s efforts to provide multilingual graduates and managers to meet Hong Kong’s economic needs.

Likewise, businesses were roundly critical of the government’s efforts to combat air pollution. Of the respondents, 94% reported being disappointed by the government’s efforts to improve Hong Kong’s dismal air quality, a source of particular concern for employees with young children. That number has risen significantly since 2010, the Chamber reports.

Another perennial frustration for expatriates based in Hong Kong—fierce competition for the limited number of international school slots available–also ranked high on issues of concern. Though the number of companies with employees whose children are stuck on a waiting list to enter schools in Hong Kong dropped to 15%, the number of expatriates who plan to try and relocate their families to Hong Kong has also sharply declined. In the coming year, just one-fifth of companies polled intend to bring employees to Hong Kongalong with their families—a drop of nearly 25% from last year.

For Chamber members, the top two grievances about doing business in Hong Kong are the city’s “declining environment,” especially when it comes to air quality, and the lack of primary school slots in international schools. “The Hong Kong government seems not to recognize [both issues] are harming the competitiveness of Hong Kong when compared to regional competitors such as Singapore,” says Christopher Hammerbeck, the Chamber’s executive director.

– Te-Ping Chen. Follow her on Twitter @tepingchen

No Easy Scapegoat for Hong Kong Pollution

Bloomberg News

Pedestrians walk past the Central Roadside Air Quality Monitoring Station in the Central district of Hong Kong, China, on Feb. 18, 2012.

More In Hong Kong

Hong Kong has long preferred to blame its smoggy skies on polluting factories just over the border in mainland China. But new analysis suggests that the blame for much of the city’s pollution rests squarely on Hong Kong’s shoulders.

According to just-released data from a regional government report, air quality in the Pearl River Delta area has continuously improved over the past year, thanks to initiatives to encourage better energy efficiency and cleaner industrial production. By contrast, Hong Kong’s own air quality, notably roadside pollution, has actually grown worse, says Clean Air Network, a local environmental group.

In the delta region last year, the average level of nitrogen dioxide, a key measure of roadside pollution (it’s the stuff that makes you cough when you pass by a bus trailing a cloud of smelly exhaust), was down by 13% from 2006 levels. But in Hong Kong, the levels measured at roadside monitoring stations during that same time period were actually up 28%, says the environmental group, citing data from Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department.

Indeed, for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, Hong Kong ranks second among 32 major Chinese cities, surpassing even notoriously smoggy Beijing, according to official Chinese data.

“Hong Kong’s government is lagging behind the mainland here,” says Jia Yuling, the Clean Air Network’s education and research manager. For example, she notes, though Hong Kong has taken steps to adopt more stringent air-quality measures, “it was only after the same announcement in mainland China that Hong Kong’s government decided, ‘Oh, we need to catch up,’ and did the same.” For a city that’s wealthier than its mainland counterparts, says Ms. Jia, Hong Kong’s lack of leadership is disappointing.

To be sure, Hong Kong has taken steps to combat air pollution, including new measures to tamp down on sulfur dioxide emissions from local factories. But there’s plenty of room for improvement, says Ms. Jia, especially on issues of pollution from boats and ships, now one of the biggest contributors to Hong Kong’s air-quality problem.

At this point, Hong Kong’s air has deteriorated to the point that it’s literally driving expatriates away from the region. Surveys have repeatedly found that the city’s noxious skies are hurting its competitiveness, with many expatriates preferring such greener, cleaner choices as Singapore. Tourists who make their way up to the city’s Peak to enjoy its famous views often find that the sought-after vistas are obscured by a dense blanket of smog.

The Clean Air Network says Hong Kong’s rising levels of car ownership and the aging of its vehicle fleet are partly to blame for its bad air. Across the border, a number of cities are taking on the problem of dirty old cars, and environmental activists say Hong Kong should do more to join them. For example, last week, Beijing’s Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau announced it would begin paying city residents and businesses between 2,500 yuan and 14,500 yuan ($397 to $2,301) to retire an aging or heavy-diesel vehicle. Other cities, such as Shenzhen, have offered similar deals.

Asked to comment on the issue, Hong Kong’s environmental-protection department hadn’t responded as of Monday afternoon.

“We can’t keep blaming regional air quality any more for our problems,” says Ms. Jia. “Hong Kong needs to do more to address local pollution on its own.”
– Te-Ping Chen. Follow her on Twitter @tepingchen

Hong Kong air pollution at worst levels ever: report

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A worker at ”sky100”, the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre (ICC), looks at Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour March 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

HONG KONG | Sun Jan 8, 2012 9:43pm EST

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Air pollution levels in Hong Kong were the worst ever last year, the SouthChina Morning Post reported on Monday, a finding that may further undermine the city’s role as an Asian financial centre as business executives relocate because of health concerns.

Worsening air quality in Hong Kong caused by vehicle emissions and industrial pollution from the neighboring Pearl River Delta is already forcing many in the financial community to move to Singapore.

Readings at three roadside monitoring stations in Hong Kong’s Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok commercial districts showed that pollution levels were above the 100 mark more than 20 percent of the time, the newspaper said, citing the city’s Environmental Protection Department.

This was 10 times worse than in 2005, when very high readings were recorded only 2 percent of the time, it said.

The station in Central business district, home to the Asia headquarters of global banks such as HSBC Holdings Plc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, showed the worst figures, with excessive readings a quarter of the time, the report said.

Hourly readings are taken at the roadside stations throughout the year on major pollutants such as respirable suspended particles and nitrogen oxides. A reading above 100 means at least one pollutant fails air quality objectives.

Environmentalists renewed their calls for the immediate introduction of new air quality objectives, claiming that the government had deliberately delayed their introduction to ease the way for major infrastructure projects, the newspaper said.

The department blamed the figures on unfavourable weather conditions, worsening background pollution and the number of ageing vehicles on streets.

The newspaper quoted the government as saying a number of measures were being considered to help improve air quality, and new air quality objectives would be discussed by Hong Kong’s legislature soon.

(Reporting by Charlie Zhu; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Chris Lewis)

Is Hong Kong’s pollution driving expats away?

The news that air pollution levels in Hong Kong were at a record high last year comes as little surprise to the expats who live in its smog

A ferry crosses Hong Kong harbour under heavy smog Photo: Paul Brown/Rex Features

By Leah Hyslop

9:20AM GMT 11 Jan 2012

According to a report published in The South China Morning Post earlier this week, air quality in Hong Kong was 10 times worse last year than in 2005, with pollution levels recorded at three roadside monitor stations above the “very high” mark more than 20 per cent of the time.

Such heavy pollution has obvious implications for the health of Hong Kong’s residents, who it is feared are at an increased risk of everything from respiratory problems to cancer, but also casts a shadow over the city-state’s future as a top international business centre.

Hong Kong is home to thousands of expat workers, many filling crucial positions in its thriving banking and finance sector, but the relentless grey haze which hangs over the former British colony could be increasingly driving those who can afford it to settle elsewhere.

Last year, a report from office supplier Regus revealed that an astonishing three-quarters of companies in Hong Kong saw pollution as a problem in recruiting and retaining international talent, while a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong found that nearly half (48 per cent) of its members knew of professionals who had left to escape the contaminated air.

Sylvia, a British banker who did not wish to give her full name, claims to know many expats who have returned to their home countries because of pollution, or asked for transfers to other major Asian hubs such as Singapore – largely, she says, due to health concerns.

“A friend of mine used to get plenty of headaches and migraines when he lived in Hong Kong for a few years; when he returned to the US the migraines stopped overnight,” she explains. “Another friend’s husband has a job here in Hong Kong but since his wife and daughter have asthma, they live in Singapore and he commutes here during the week.”

For those expats who choose to remain in Hong Kong, the desire to escape the smog often dictates where they live. Teacher Linda Kernan, originally from Kent, has ended up seeking refuge on one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands, where there are no cars. Even so, on some days from her flat she can barely see the high rise buildings just a few miles away over the sea.

“The air quality does seem to be getting worse,” she says. “When I arrived here 17 years ago, there were many more days with a blue sky but now they are few and far between. Before Christmas I had to spend about five hours walking around with a friend, waiting for his evening flight. When we walked through town I could feel my throat getting steadily worse and by evening It was painful to talk. It starts with a prickly throat and develops into a sore throat if you stay on the busy roads.

“I have four years left to retirement, and I would love to stay in Hong Kong, but I think I will have to put my health first and leave.”

So why exactly is Hong Kong’s pollution so bad? A reason often cited is its location at the mouth of China’s Pearl River Delta region, a booming economic centre home to over 70,000 factories, but the city’s own industrial emissions, heavy traffic and tall buildings which trap contaminated air in a so-called “canyon effect” are also major factors. The government has taken some steps to combat the problem in recent years – including introducing a ban on leaving stationary vehicles’ engines running for more than three minutes – but local pressure groups such as the Clean Air Network insist that more changes are necessary.

How much damage the pollution issue could end up wreaking on Hong Kong’s attractiveness as a business centre is subject to hot debate. Sylvia admits that there is a long-term risk that “Hong Kong will lose top talent and industry to its rival Singapore,” but believes that even if many expats leave, the economy will not be seriously hurt.

“There’s hundreds of Westerners arriving every day,” she says simply. “The downturn in Europe means there are more and more people seeking work, and more companies relocating their staff here. Hong Kong’s economy has always been better than most; it experiences downturns but then it recovers very quickly.”

Hans Leijten, the regional vice president for Regus in East Asia is not so sure however. “Singapore is seen as a much greener and cleaner alternative, and it is gaining a competitive edge particularly when it comes to expats with families,” he warns.

“While Hong Kong’s economy and job market are still extremely strong and it remains a top destination for expatriates, the quality of the environment and its effect on their health is certainly weighing heavily on the minds of those working there.”

Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network results for 2011 announced today


Hong Kong (HKSAR) – The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government and the Department of Environmental Protection of Guangdong Province (GDEPD) today (April 26) released the report on the monitoring results of the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network for 2011. Overall, the average annual concentration levels of most pollutants had decreased, reflecting continuous improvement in regional air quality.

In 2011, over 76 per cent of the Regional Air Quality Index recorded by the Network was within Grade II, meaning the pollutant concentrations were within Class 2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (applicable to general residential areas).

Since the Network began operating in 2006, the average annual concentrations of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and respirable suspended particulates in the region have decreased by 49 per cent, 13 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

In spite of continuous economic growth in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, the average annual concentration levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have decreased by 4 per cent and 7 per cent respectively in 2011 compared to the 2010 levels, while that of respirable suspended particulates has remained stable. These reductions are attributable to the implementation of enhanced emission reduction measures by both sides.

The installation of desulphurisation and denitrification systems at Hong Kong power plants was completed last year. Action has been taken to restrict the volatile organic compounds (VOC) in selected categories of pleasure craft and vehicle refinishing paints.

Prohibition against idling vehicles with running engines also came into effect in December 2011. Meanwhile, Guangdong has implemented various pollutant reduction measures, including installing low-nitrogen oxides (NOx) and denitrification systems at thermal power plants; phasing out highly polluting industrial boilers; setting up a registration and reporting system on the usage and emission control of organic solvents at major enterprises; regulating VOC emissions from enterprises; and gradually supplying National IV standard petrol within the PRD region.

According to the Network’s monitoring results, the average annual concentration level of ozone had increased by 21 per cent in 2011 compared to 2006.

Ozone is formed through photochemical reaction by nitrogen oxides with VOC under sunlight. To improve regional air quality and address the photochemical pollution problem, the two governments have been actively pursuing a series of emission reduction measures.

The Hong Kong SAR Government announced the adoption of new Air Quality Objectives this January.

The Administration is working progressively on necessary preparatory work on legislative amendments and taking forward 22 air quality improvement measures. The legislation has also been amended to tighten emission caps for power plants by requiring local power plants to increase the ratio of natural gas in local electricity generation to 50 per cent by 2015 and to install advanced emission abatement devices.

The Government is also conducting a trial of retrofitting selective catalytic reduction devices on Euro II and III franchised buses so as to reduce their nitrogen oxides emissions.

Subject to satisfactory trial results, the Government will fully subsidise retrofitting works for all Euro II and III franchised buses. In addition, the Government is stepping up control on tailpipe emissions from petrol and liquefied petroleum gas vehicles, and plans to subsidise replacement of catalytic converters and associated components for liquefied petroleum gas taxis and light buses, which will incur an expenditure of some HK$150 million. In addition, with effect from June 2012, standards of newly registered vehicles will be tightened to that of Euro V emission standards.

As for Guangdong, enhanced efforts will be taken forward to retrofit thermal power plants with low-NOx and denitrification systems. Large-scale industrial boilers and construction material, metallurgical and petrochemical industries will be required to adopt such technologies as flue gas desulphurisation, dust removal, low-NOx anddenitrification. Vehicle emission control measures that follow national requirements will also be implemented as part of Guangdong’s pollution reduction plan for the 12-5 period.

In 2011, the concentrations of most pollutants were generally higher in the winter months (e.g.

from January to March and from October to December) whilst lower concentration levels were recorded in the summer months (e.g. from June to August). Similar patterns have been recorded in past years.

Geographically, air quality was better in the coastal areas than the central and north-west areas of the region, probably as a result of relatively more favourableconditions for pollutant dispersion in the former. This situation was in line with the observations in previous years.

The Network is one of the major achievements in co-operation between the two sides in environmental protection.

It comprises 16 automatic ambient monitoring stations scattered over the region, 13 of which are in the PRD Economic Zone, namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai,Foshan, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Shunde, Huiyang, Panyu and Conghua, and the other three in Tsuen Wan, Tung Chung and Tap Mun in Hong Kong. The Guangdong Provincial Environmental Monitoring Centre and EPD are respectively responsible for the co-ordination, management and operation of the monitoring stations of the two sides.

The report covered the monitoring results of four major air pollutants (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and respirable suspended particulates) measured by the Network in 2011, and is available at both the GDEPD’s website ( and EPD’s website (

Source: HKSAR Government

Tsang hopes for SAR-Taiwan pact

HK Standard

Monday, May 21, 2012

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun- wah said he hopes Hong Kong will sign a free trade agreement with Taiwan, and strengthen bilateral collaboration.

The SAR and the island have yet to ink any bilateral trade pacts.

Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan are individual members of the World Trade Organization.

Tsang wrote the comments in his blog after returning from a three-day visit to the island to celebrate the second anniversary of the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Cooperation and Promotion Council.

He is the honorary chairman of the council, which has proposed a two-way visa-free travel arrangement that should be up and running by September.

Hong Kong and Taiwan have also drawn up new freight agreements and sought cooperation on financial regulations.

Tsang said business people from both sides hope for a closer economic and trade relationship.

He looks forward to new developments that will strengthen cooperation between the two sides.

Tsang is keen to promote trade between Hong Kong and other places.

Last month, he went to Southeast Asia and tried to incorporate the SAR into the free trade area formed between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. VICTOR CHEUNG

EPA’s Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments, Volume 1

Download PDF : dioxinv1sup

the ‘D’ word


Recent Updates

The Issue
“Dioxins” refers to a group of toxic chemical compounds that share certain chemical structures and biological characteristics. Dioxins can be released into the environment through forest fires, backyard burning of trash, certain industrial activities, and residue from past commercial burning of waste. Dioxins break down very slowly and past releases of dioxins from both man-made and natural sources still exist in the environment.

Almost every living creature has been exposed to dioxins. Studies have shown that exposure to dioxins at high enough levels may cause a number of adverse health effects, including cancer. The health effects associated with dioxins depend on a variety of factors including: the level of exposure, when someone was exposed, and for how long and how often someone is exposed.

Over the past several years, EPA, state governments and industry have worked together to dramatically reduce known and measurable industrial dioxin emissions. These efforts have reduced air emissions of dioxins by 90 percent so that today, most Americans have only low-level exposure to dioxins.

EPA Action
On February 17, 2012, EPA finalized its final Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments, Volume 1. This document provides hazard identification and dose-response information on 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and the most up-to-date analysis of non-cancer health effects from TCDD exposure. The report also include an oral reference dose (RfD) and a detailed and transparent description of the underlying data and analyses.

Dioxin and Related Compounds

Description: 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin


Description: 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzofuran
Description: 3,3',4,4',5,5'-Hexachlorobiphenyl



Related Links

Best Resources

U.S. EPA. An Inventory of Sources and Environmental Releases of Dioxin-Like Compounds in the U.S. for the Years 1987, 1995, and 2000 (Final, Nov 2006). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/P-03/002F.

U.S. EPA. An Exploratory Study: Assessment of Modeled Dioxin Exposure in Ceramic Art Studios (2008 Final). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-06/044F, 2008.

U.S. EPA. Pilot Survey of Levels of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Dioxins (PCDDs), Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans (PCDFs), Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) and Mercury in Rural Soils of the U.S. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-05/043F, 2007.

U.S. EPA. Health Effects Assessment for 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-Dioxin (1984). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/540/1-86/044 (NTIS PB86134558), 1984.

U.S. EPA. Health Assessment Document for Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Dioxins (1985). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/8-84/014F (NTIS PB86122546), 1985.

MUKERJEE, D., C. RIS, AND J. SCHAUM. Health Risk Assessment Approach for 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-Dioxin (1985). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/8-85/013 (NTIS PB86-122546/AS), 1985.

U.S. EPA. EPA Regulations Related to Dioxin. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, 2003.

Cops run into trouble with electric bikes

HK Standard

Staff reporter

Monday, May 21, 2012

The police plan to use electric vehicles for patrols has run into trouble with the frequent breakdown of 12 imported electric motorcycles.

Three of them spent almost as much time in the repair shop as on the road.

Police spent HK$1.2 million on the 12 electric motorcycles between 2008 and 2009.

They were under maintenance for 143 days each year on average. This means they function normally for around seven months a year.

Three worked for less than six months a year while one, imported in April 2008, was on the road less than five months a year.

Police said most of the maintenance work was related to battery issues, reported Sing Tao Daily, sister newspaper of The Standard.

Meanwhile, the government has introduced 21 electric cars costing HK$9.5 million to various departments, part of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s green policy initiative to improve air quality in the city.

However, it was found that these electric cars travel only an average of 936 kilometers per month, much less than other government vehicles.

One of the electric cars belonging to the Water Supplies Department travels only 393km per month on average and is idle 11 days a month.

The department said it realizes the vehicle is underused and has vowed to strengthen battery recharging devices to enhance its operation.

Green Power scientific research and conservation division head Cheng Luk-ki said the government has to explain to the public why the electric vehicles are not fully utilized.

The government could be using them merely for exhibition and promotional purposes, he said.

In his 2009 policy address, Tsang promoted the use of electric vehicles.

The Environment Bureau has been working with a number of electric vehicle manufacturers to boost use of the vehicles.

Tsang said he expects Hong Kong to rank second in Asia behind Japan in the use of electric vehicles.