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September 29th, 2012:

Officials realise dirty engines need to be replaced


Submitted by admin on Sep 29th 2012, 12:00am


In response to Peter Inglis’ letter (“Chief executive must have courage to deal with our polluted air”, September 26), I wish to affirm this administration’s commitment to improve air quality in Hong Kong.

I also wish to affirm that the protection of public health is the key guiding principle in the formulation of air quality improvement measures.

In the coming months, the public will see a number of major proposals and initiatives aimed at dealing with specific air quality problems, the most important of which is roadside pollution arising from vehicles, especially diesel commercial vehicles. The reason these sources of pollution present the biggest problem is because they have the greatest day-to-day impact on public health. Quite simply, dirty engines need to be replaced.

Emissions from ships also cause harm. A number of leading shipping companies signed the voluntary at berth fuel-switching Fair Winds Charter that came into operation in 2011. While the government has complemented their efforts by reducing port dues for those vessels switching to using cleaner fuel, the administration agrees with the signatories that regulation is the way forward. We will work hard to make this happen.

We will further tighten the emission allowances for power plants, as well as consider changing Hong Kong’s fuel mix for electricity generation to significantly lower or even eliminate coal usage.

We will be engaging with experts, stakeholders and community groups shortly to kick-start a discussion on what may be the right fuel mix for Hong Kong going forward in the next decade.

Another vital task is for Hong Kong and Guangdong to collaborate to reduce air pollution. Only by sustained regional efforts will we improve ambient air quality. We are working on specific emissions reduction targets by 2020 and these will be announced shortly.

There are other key areas we are working on right now, such as revising the air pollution index system, which we will put forward in the coming half year.

Mr Inglis acknowledges that there is a cost involved in cleaning up. I agree with him that higher mortality and more illnesses from air pollution are also costly. However, the debate about how the pollution reduction costs are to be shared is not easy, even for a wealthy city like ours.

We will need public support on the many measures in the pipeline.

Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment


Air quality in HK

roadside pollution

Diesel commercial vehicles

Fuel mix

Source URL (retrieved on Oct 1st 2012, 6:06am):

Airport saga continues

SCMP Laisee 29 Sept 2012

Readers may be familiar with the continuing struggle between green non-governmental groups and the Airport Authority over conducting a social return on investment (SROI) study on the proposed third runway.

The authority steadfastly resisted the move, even after it was urged to conduct one by the Legislative Council’s environmental panel. The green groups were therefore stunned when the authority on September 19 issued a press release headlined “Airport Authority goes extra mile to appraise impact of planned three-runway system”.

The green groups felt this was disingenuous since the authority has not agreed as such to conduct an SROI. It issued its own response recently, arguing that the authority “still has many more miles to go to establish itself as a socially responsible airport”. It reiterates its key claim that the authority has “remained reluctant to commit to the environmental group’s key demands for a social and environmental cost assessment”. It also warns that unless it does agree it will not participate in technical briefing groups organised as part of the environmental impact assessment process.

All this is proving very awkward for the authority since recently announcing its objective of becoming the greenest airport in the world.

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