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October, 2012:

Kowloon City, Yau Tsim Mong top list of idling-engine black spots


Submitted by admin on Oct 25th 2012, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Jennifer Ngo

The area, and Yau Tsim Mong, have the most streets where drivers park with engines running

Ninety-two streets have been identified as black spots for vehicles with idling engines, with Kowloon City and Yau Tsim Mong the districts most affected, environment officials say.

Many of these streets are near schools, tourist spots and bays for loading and unloading goods.

The Environment Bureau would “request traffic wardens to pay more attention to [the] black spots during normal patrol duty”, bureau chief Wong Kam-sing told legislators yesterday.

The bureau would also conduct publicity and enforcement activities at those places, he said.

The Motor Vehicle Idling Ordinance was introduced last December to reduce roadside pollution, the city’s biggest air pollution problem.

But its implementation has triggered public complaints that the Environmental Protection Department is too lenient in enforcing the law.

In the 10 months since the law took effect, only three drivers have been charged a fixed penalty of HK$320 for keeping the engines of their parked vehicles running for more than the allowed limit of three minutes.

The ban was also not enforced for 40 days during the recent summer because of overly hot or wet weather, in accordance with weather-related exemptions.

In the meantime, roadside air pollution hit a peak of 212 in Central – the highest on record in the city with the exception of a sandstorm in 2010.

Kowloon City was the district with the most black spots, with 15 streets, followed by Yau Tsim Mong with 12, officials said.

A street was identified as a black spot if it received more than one complaint of an idling engine within three months, a government spokesman said.

The department did not provide a breakdown of the exact locations of the streets listed.

Yesterday afternoon, cars and school buses lined the Causeway Bay area outside St Paul’s Convent School on Leighton Road, one of the black spots.

While the two school buses had their engines turned off, some of the private cars had their motors left running as the drivers waited to pick up their young charges from school.

Private cars, some with engines idling, were parked or double-parked in side streets leading off Leighton Road – including Sunning and Hoi Ping roads.

Wong said traffic wardens and environmental protection inspectors had timed 806 vehicles across the city and held 340 publicity activities to raise awareness of the issue. He said more drivers now switched off their engines while their vehicle were parked, but admitted in some cases this was because law enforcement officers were timing them.


Kowloon City

Yau Tsim Mong

idling engine

Source URL (retrieved on Oct 25th 2012, 5:10am):

Government resolve on cleaner air must not waver


Submitted by admin on Oct 25th 2012, 12:00am

Comment›Insight & Opinion

Lisa Genasci

Lisa Genasci applauds the government for pledging long-due action

We might finally have an administration that cares about cleaning our filthy air. Indications are that the new administration led by C.Y.Leung will act to finally stem the choking smog that represents Hong Kong’s No 1 public health crisis and is a major impediment to the city’s competitiveness.

Last week, in his first address to the reconvened Legislative Council, the chief executive said improving air quality was among his top objectives. In a move that already stirred optimism about the government’s determination to protect public health, Leung last month named environmentalist Christine Loh Kung-wai undersecretary for the environment.

It was also encouraging to see, a day after Leung’s address, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing calling roadside pollution the city’s greatest problem, and that a basket of initiatives to improve the city’s air quality would be introduced next year. These, he said, would aim to comply with World Health Organisation standards rather than the outdated air quality measures still in use.

Among the initiatives being considered are “carrot and stick” policies that include removing some 60,000 heavily polluting diesel vehicles from our roads.

Such measures are urgently needed. Some older vehicles have been on the road for as long as 20 years and should be refused registration if they don’t comply with vehicle emission standards.

While atmospheric pollution might have improved somewhat – due mainly to lower emissions from the city’s power stations – the concentration of roadside emissions remains unacceptably high, and it is these emissions that affect us the most.

Wong has said that 80 per cent of roadside pollutants come from outdated commercial diesel vehicles.

Retiring obsolete commercial diesel vehicles will improve our air and our health. It’s also worth remembering that research from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology showed that, 53 per cent of the time, pollution that affects us most comes not from across the border, but from our own roads and ships on the harbour.

Indeed, the recent flurry of positive announcements from the government came amid a string of bad air days and public health warnings to moderate outdoor activity.

According to Hong Kong University’s Hedley Environmental Index, which measures the cost of pollution, yesterday was a “clear day” (one that complies with WHO air quality guidelines) in Hong Kong. The last such day was September 22, which means that our air stayed bad for more than a month.

According to the index, there have been only 59 clear days so far this year. The polluted days represent a cumulative HK$33 million in health-related and other costs.

Beyond the direct cost to our economy, surveys of business executives regularly point to our smoggy air as a real obstacle in recruiting and retaining workers – whether foreign or local. Patience is wearing thin.

By now we have heard from doctors and scientists that our dangerously high level of pollutants raises the risk of such conditions as bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, headaches, lung cancer, stroke and heart attack.

So we should applaud the suggestion of phasing out outdated commercial diesel vehicles, despite what I imagine will be heavy lobbying from the transport sector.

As Wong pointed out, mainland China is phasing out diesel vehicles more than 15 years old, so why should we be any different? The government’s carrot will include subsidies to soften the blow of replacing vehicle fleets.

It is encouraging that the administration has also spoken about retrofitting Euro II and III franchised buses with selective catalytic reduction devices to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions and might even tighten emission standards for LPG and petrol vehicles as well.

Here’s hoping that our new government will finally act to protect our health.

Lisa Genasci is CEO of the ADM Capital Foundation and has been a Hong Kong resident for 12 years


Air Pollution


Christine Loh Kung-Wai

old diesel vehicles

More on this:

Good start to tackling pollution [1]

Source URL (retrieved on Oct 25th 2012, 5:01am):


Idle enforcers won’t stop idling engines


Submitted by admin on Oct 25th 2012, 12:00am


Alex Lo

We are shocked and outraged! There are, according to environment officials, 92 black spots for idling engines across the city. What that really means is that drivers simply idle everywhere, paying no attention to the idling ban and its HK$320 fine. Well, we all know that, because police, traffic wardens and environmental protection inspectors rarely enforce the ban. So it’s absurd for the government even to bother doing the survey.

First, a confession: I drive every day and I have idled my engine on more than a few occasions. Only three drivers have been fined for idling more than the three-minute limit since the law came into effect last December and I am not one of them. In those times when agents of the law walked by, not a single one ever stopped and timed me.

However, I have been repeatedly ticketed, over many years, for failing to add money to parking meters that had expired just minutes before. From this, I can only conclude the priority of officers is to penalise overtime parking, an offence that actually harms no one, to the neglect of engine-idling, which does harm to everyone’s health.

Environment chief Wong Kam-sing told lawmakers yesterday that 806 vehicles were timed, presumably not from the time when they stopped and kept the engines on, but when an officer stepped next to the car to alert the driver. This amounts to a warning, and of course, few drivers would end up getting fined that way.

There were also 40 days during this summer when enforcement was formally suspended because the weather was too hot or too wet. This is allowed under the law, thanks to myriad exemptions written into it.

Seriously, has the Environmental Protection Department been subsumed under Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks? For this paper tiger of a law, we have to thank Wong’s predecessor, Edward Yau Tang-wah, the current director of the Chief Executive’s Office.

The lack of enforcement, compared to how readily officers penalise parking offences, indicates it’s official policy. I can assure you I would turn off my engine unfailingly if there was a good chance I’d be fined. Let’s not be intimidated by angry truckers, delivery van drivers and their trade leaders. Enforce the law, please!


Air Pollution

Idling engine ban


Law Enforcement

More on this:

Government resolve on cleaner air must not waver [1]

Source URL (retrieved on Oct 25th 2012, 4:55am):


Letters to the Editor, October 23, 2012


Submitted by admin on Oct 23rd 2012, 12:00am


Government is committed to cleaner air

Your leader (“Don’t lose sight of clean air”, October 17) and Howard Winn (“Never mind the weight, what about the concentration?”, October 12) complained that the government trumpeted the reduction in the weight of air emissions when we released the emissions inventory.

Your leader called on the chief executive to pay special attention to improving air quality. This he did loud and clear at his first address to Legco on Wednesday. The gist of Winn’s comments was the reductions were insufficient to make much difference in public health terms because the concentration of emissions remains very high, especially at roadside.

I agree that Hong Kong’s air quality remains poor. We will need some time to revamp policies and better target control measures to reduce emissions both in terms of quantity and concentration.

We will need the support of other government bureaus and departments, as well as the support of legislators and district councillors as some of the measures will require changing urban design and planning practices, traffic and congestion management, and even using financial disincentives.

On this occasion, the government should not be faulted for publishing its latest emissions inventory data for 2010, which is a necessary exercise because inventory data is vital for policymaking.

The updated inventory can now be used by air quality scientists and public health experts for in-depth study in addition to supporting us to develop a more effective air quality improvement plan.

Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment

Source URL (retrieved on Oct 23rd 2012, 6:34am):

Confronting Climate Change: 9 Clean Replacement Technologies

October 23, 2012 – Vol.17 No. 32

Confronting Climate Change: 9 Clean Replacement Technologies

by Howard A. Latin

July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded, and 2012 is becoming the hottest year since record-keeping began in the nineteenth century. Global climate change is here now; it is not only a harmful problem for future generations. And it is bound to grow worse if we continue to ignore it, to deny it, or to devise ineffective mitigation measures that cannot possibly overcome it.

Climate change at its most basic is caused by accumulating heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the air. These gases build up the heat of the earth’s surfaces, ocean waters, and atmosphere with potentially disastrous consequences. The consensus approach of developed nations to the mitigation of climate change risks is to establish multi-decade GHG emissions-reduction programs that will cut relatively small amounts of GHG discharges for the first three decades, ultimately decreasing GHG emissions to around 80 percent by 2050. What the policy-making sponsors of these emissions-reduction efforts fail to take into account is that annual GHG discharges will combine with the already-too-high level of GHGs in the air to increase the cumulative heat-trapping GHG concentration in the atmosphere.

The largest greenhouse gas by volume, carbon dioxide (CO2), is also the most persistent, remaining in the atmosphere for centuries or millennia. The small GHG cutbacks imposed for three decades under consensus emissions-reduction plans, such as Obama campaign proposals or the Kyoto Protocol, would allow the huge remaining volume of heat-trapping gases to reach the atmosphere and to remain there for a very long time. By 2050, when stringent emissions-reductions are supposed to take effect, the consensus emissions-reduction programs will have allowed hundreds of billions of tons of additional GHGs to reach the atmosphere, where the persistent gases will combine with the existing volume of GHGs to worsen many climate change hazards. In essence, the consensus GHG emissions-reduction programs would not attain any tangible improvements in climate change dangers; but instead would allow climate degradation to become steadily worse.

Only one realistic, but not easy or inexpensive, solution appears promising. We must adopt a “de-carbonization” strategy that can replace the main sources of greenhouse gases, including fossil fuel producers, energy generators, and transportation industries, with “clean” GHG-free alternative technologies. This technology replacement approach would enable people to maintain their current lifestyles, or improve them, while no longer continuing to damage climate conditions.

Can we achieve this? In previous decades, the United States poured many billions of dollars into the Marshall Plan, the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo Project, and the construction of Publicly-Owned Treatment Plants. Yet, the predicted harms from climate change are surely as worthy of concentrated mitigation efforts as the initiatives in these other fields. And it appears that most of the clean replacement technologies are already available or are now under development. Here is a short list of these alternatives:

Fusion – Dr. Stewart Prager, the Director of the Princeton Plasma Lab, contends that fusion can be developed on a commercial scale within 20 years. This energy technology would be especially desirable because it produces almost no wastes and uses “free” deuterium & tritium extracted from seawater to curtail fuel costs.

Plasma Arc Gasification – David Robau of the Airforce has demonstrated a gasification project focusing energy as hot as the sun’s surface to burn garbage, wood, paper, plastics, and many other substances, resulting in greater energy production, sharply reduced air pollution and less solid wastes (NY Times 09/11/2012).

Off-shore Wind Energy – Michael J. Dvorak of Stanford University and co-authors recently assessed the high effectiveness and feasibility of wind energy. For example, Denmark is already receiving 20% of its total energy requirements from off-shore wind turbines.

On-shore Wind Energy – Thomas A. Martin of Willamette University published a study that found installed wind capacity between 1999 and 2011 in the U.S. expanded from 2,200 MW to 43,000 MW and will increase further.

Dynamic Tidal Power – Dimitri de Boer of the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO) observed that although China already leads the world in the production of solar panels and wind turbines, it has recently formed a partnership with the Netherlands to develop energy from tidal forces. A projected Chinese tidal power project will have an energy generation capacity of 15 MW or more (09/26/2012).

Solar Power – Despite the failure of several solar power equipment manufacturers on economic, not technological, grounds, adoption of diverse solar power technologies has increased rapidly in the past decade. One study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that by 2010, the 55 countries reporting had an aggregate installed capacity for solar energy of about 196 GW.

Geothermal Energy – Jeremiah Williamson, a Wyoming official, wrote: “Increasing demand for lower emission, renewable energy coupled with geothermal’s potential ubiquity and ability to provide reliable baseload electric power make the resource an appealing option for renewable energy generation in the United States.” (01/23/12)

Algae-Based Biofuels – Nadia Ahmad of the University of Denver noted in 2012: “With scientific expertise and political willpower, algae biofuels are ripe for harvesting in the energy sector. Federal tax incentives could be game-changers for algae-based biofuel technology that reduces high energy prices and our dependency on foreign oil.” All biofuels would still result in greenhouse gases, but they would be significantly cleaner and eventually cheaper than the fossil fuels that are now the major sources of greenhouse gas pollution and climate change.

Thorium and Other Fuels for Nuclear Energy – It is difficult to support nuclear energy because, after sixty years, we still do not have a reliable and widely acceptable mechanism to store radioactive wastes for long periods of time. However, France and a few other nations, now produce more than 50% of their energy using nuclear power, and current nuclear technologies are considerably safer than previously. It may be that in some regions with characteristics that interfere with renewable energy methods, nuclear energy could still be a viable “spot” solution.

This list of “clean” GHG-free alternative technologies is not exhaustive, but it should be sufficient to refute the claim that we must remain dependent on fossil fuels and other major GHG sources endangering our climate and people for hundreds of years to come. The vital question is not whether we can afford to develop these clean replacement technologies – some will succeed and others may not – but whether we can afford not to create clean alternatives while climate change dangers continue growing worse.

Howard A. Latin is a Distinguished Professor and Justice Francis Scholar at Rutgers Law School in Newark. He recently published Climate Change Policy Failures: Why Conventional Mitigation Approaches Cannot Succeed (2012), which may be purchased at: or


Airport Authority fails to allay pollution fears over third runway

Submitted by admin on Oct 20th 2012, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Ada Lee

Environmental groups accused the Airport Authority of insincerity and a lack of preparation at a meeting on the planned third airport runway yesterday. They said the authority had not addressed demands raised a month ago.

The nine groups that met authority representatives said they would continue to boycott its technical briefing group unless it made a greater effort to answer their concerns.

The groups had set the authority “12 tasks” a month ago, but no deadline to meet them, said Angus Ho Hon-wai, of the group Greeners Action.

“We sent them a letter a month ago requesting a meeting and stating our demands, but they seemed unprepared [yesterday],” he said. “We didn’t give them a deadline, but we hope the authority can show some commitment in the coming weeks.”

The groups are seeking more details about noise and air pollution, carbon emissions, impact on fisheries and dolphins and mitigation measures for environmental damage. They have also requested data on aircraft movements, noise and expected air quality during construction.

Ho said the authority only committed to calculate the extra carbon emissions from the third runway at yesterday’s meeting.

In response to the criticisms, the authority said it was sincere about engaging stakeholders, including green groups. The social impact assessment would be done around the completion of the environmental impact assessment, it said.

The authority also briefed media yesterday on updates to designs for the third runway. The area needing reclaiming on the northern side of the third runway would be reduced, but the western end of the existing north runway would be extended slightly to provide an additional taxiway.

The total area of reclamation would stay under 650 hectares, said Kevin Poole, the authority’s deputy director of projects.


Airport Authority

third runwayscmp_19mar12_aa2_dl_1609a_27572941.jpg


Source URL (retrieved on Oct 20th 2012, 6:42am):

Good start to tackling pollution

Submitted by admin on Oct 20th 2012, 12:00am

Comment›Insight & Opinion

Edwin Lau

Edwin Lau says the new administration’s environmental team has shown it has the will to tackle pollution; now it just needs to find a way to act swiftly to implement meaningful policies

Two green-minded people have stepped into important positions in the new administration, tasked with taking charge of environmental matters. Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing and undersecretary Christine Loh Kung-wai have both worked on green issues, in the private sector and in non-governmental organisations respectively, before joining the government.

Both want to pick up what was left undone or idle by the former administration to improve Hong Kong’s environment. This gives hope to the public that the two will be more aggressive than their predecessors in pushing for change. Let’s hope they lead us, through innovative policies and plans, to cut waste at source; reduce and reuse food waste; change our fuel mix for electricity generation to one that is cleaner; and cut carbon emissions from local and overseas vessels.

Encouragingly, for starters the government is now considering phasing out commercial diesel vehicles once they reach the age of 15, to tackle our health-threatening roadside pollution.

Both Wong and Loh appear to have vision and are eager to engage with stakeholders from various sectors. But they have a tough challenge: they will find it far easier to persuade the public to buy into some new policies than to garner the necessary support for these policies from the other bureaus, including the ones that look after transport, buildings, planning and the like.

Take roadside pollution, for example.

Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying told the Legislative Council on Wednesday that the government is concerned about the health impact of harmful emissions from vehicles and ships. He will need to break through the bureaucracy’s silo mentality to facilitate the collaboration necessary to solve this problem.

Roadside air pollution comes mainly from old and poorly maintained vehicles, especially commercial diesel vehicles, including franchised buses. At a recent function, Wong outlined the profile of Hong Kong’s commercial diesel vehicles. Many were shocked to learn that 15 per cent of commercial diesel vehicles on our roads do not meet even the most primitive of European emissions standards; 11 per cent meet only the Euro I standards; and 20 per cent meet Euro II standards. That is almost half of the total diesel fleet in Hong Kong. The benchmark today for imported vehicles is Euro V.

The government has launched several subsidy schemes since 2007 to encourage owners of commercial diesel vehicles to scrap their old vehicles – of pre-Euro, Euro I and Euro II standards – in exchange for new ones with the most stringent emissions standards.

But because these were voluntary schemes, the take-up rate was low. It could be said that the government ended up saving a lot of money, but unfortunately it is spending it all on treating patients with respiratory illnesses.

Does the government understand the benefits of a simple reallocation of funds? If it were to spend its money on reducing harmful emissions, it would not need to spend millions of dollars on health care related to air pollution.

Old vehicles emit very high levels of pollutants. Diesel vehicles of Euro I standard, for example, emit four times the nitrogen oxide levels and over 14 times the levels of particulate matter of Euro V vehicles.

In July, Friends of the Earth (HK) measured the fine particles inside Hong Kong buses in various districts and found that the average hourly concentration reached 53.11 micrograms per cubic metre. That is more than twice the level of the 25 micrograms per cubic metre set by the World Health Organisation.

These PM2.5 particles – or particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter – are very harmful, as they can easily enter our lungs and even the bloodstream. The previous administration included PM2.5 in our proposed new air quality objectives, but set the level at the lowest WHO interim target of 75 micrograms per cubic metre. Medical experts have questioned our government about such a lax standard, which can in no way seriously protect public health. Yet, this was ignored by the Donald Tsang Yam-kuen administration, which also delayed making the revised air quality objectives the new legal standard until at least 2014.

Governments the world over should strive to safeguard public health. I believe our new chief executive and the two officials now heading the Environment Bureau have a strong desire to clean up Hong Kong’s filthy air, to create a healthier environment for all citizens and wash away the city’s infamous reputation for polluted air, something that is reported frequently by the international media.

To demonstrate its commitment, the government needs to set stringent standards for Hong Kong that are closer to the WHO guidelines; set a time frame to phase out all polluting vehicles with emissions standards of Euro II and below; mandate vehicle labelling, coupled with low-emission zones in highly populated areas; and rationalise bus routes.

Hong Kong must not delay in achieving high standards of air quality. Already, over 3,000 avoidable deaths each year are attributed to our bad air, according to the Hedley Environmental Index which tracks pollution’s harm to our health.

Life is precious. By acting now, the government will win the support of green groups and many individuals.

Edwin Lau Che-feng is director general, affairs, at Friends of the Earth (HK). [1]


Air Pollution

Emission Standards

Wong Kam-sing

Christine Loh Kung-Wai


Source URL (retrieved on Oct 20th 2012, 6:22am):



Waste output drops for the first time in four years

Ada Lee
South China Morning Post
October 18, 2012

The amount of waste produced in Hong Kong dropped 9 per cent last year – the first dip in four years – but the amount of food waste, a key concern for environmentalists, increased.

The biggest drop was in waste for recycling – down 16 per cent – and the average quantity of solid waste disposed of at landfills decreased 2.6 per cent to 13,458 tonnes a day, while construction waste dropped 7 per cent, according to the government.

The reduction of recycling waste was especially obvious in plastics, with a fall of 47 per cent.

Friends of the Earth’s environmental affairs manager Celia Fung Sze-lai attributed this decrease to the gloomy economy in Europe, as recycling companies tended to receive less waste when the prices were depressed.

Fung said yesterday the city was also receiving less plastic waste from overseas to be transferred to other places, such as the mainland. Her group had been told by recycling companies that the recycling price for plastic had dropped from 7,000 yuan a tonne last year to 4,500 yuan recently, due to a smaller demand in the mainland and overseas.

Fung also said the increase in food waste was worrying, and urged the government to come up with comprehensive strategies to recycle it.

Friends of the Earth said the government had revised waste figures for 2007 and 2008. If the original figures were taken into consideration, the decrease in waste production would be the first since 2005.

The government said the amount of construction waste dumped in landfills had dropped by half since charges for dumping construction waste were introduced in 2006.

Fung agreed the scheme was effective and noted that many construction companies now reused construction waste. The public’s sense of environmental issues had also increased, and owners tended to carry out less unnecessary home renovation.

Disposal of domestic waste had also dropped cumulatively by 15 per cent since 2004, the government said.

But Fung said the city’s landfills would soon be full and the government should implement a waste-charging scheme as soon as possible. “Although the amount has dropped, Hong Kong is still producing a lot of waste. It should focus on reducing waste from the source.”

Copyright 2012 South China Morning Post Ltd.All Rights Reserved

South China Morning Post

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):