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Fuel bills, fares to rise on cleaner air

Hong Kong Standard

Electricity and transport costs will rise by up to 20percent when the new air-quality standards come into force in 2014, the government said.

Kenneth Foo

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Electricity and transport costs will rise by up to 20percent when the new air-quality standards come into force in 2014, the government said.

Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah made the warning a day after announcing plans to raise the Air Quality Objectives to World Health Organization standards.

Yau said the new objectives will lead to a reduction in air pollutants but may also result in a 15 to 20percent rise in transport costs and a 20percent jump in electricity bills, and the public will have to share the financial burden.

The Executive Council on Tuesday gave the green light to tougher clean-air targets for the first time in 25 years, pending approval from the Legislative Council.

About half of the objectives will adopt stricter air-quality guidelines published by the WHO in 2005.

Those for sulfur dioxide, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and ozone will be set to targets under WHO guidelines.

A total of 22 mitigating measures, including the phasing out of heavily polluting vehicles and the increased usage of natural gas, will be implemented to achieve the new standards.

Yau also welcomed an Airport Authority statement that it will use the updated guidelines when it carries out the environmental impact assessment on the proposed third runway at Chek Lap Kok.

The two electricity companies agreed that government efforts to cut pollution will inevitably lead to higher bills.

CLP Power said yesterday the new objectives, coupled with soaring natural gas prices, will put pressure on it to raise electricity charges.

A spokesman for Hongkong Electric said it will need to install new gas turbines to meet the new standards.

Under the new plan, bus companies have to replace old vehicles with environmentally friendly fleets.

Kowloon Motor Bus, New World First Bus and Citybus said they have already started introducing such vehicles.

But at this early stage they do not know by how much fares will have to rise when the air- quality standards are raised.

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