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It’s official: Hong Kong has poor air quality

Submitted by admin on Nov 15th 2012, 12:00am



Howard Winn

The government’s Audit Commission published two reports yesterday which are a damning indictment of the previous government’s record on monitoring air quality and its lamentable efforts at improving it. The two reports, Implementation of Air-Quality Improvements Measures, and Monitoring and Reporting of Air Quality show a remarkable level of failure in meeting its obligations under the air pollution control ordinance, and in taking very obvious steps such as getting old polluting diesel-engined vehicles off the road.

This is something that think tanks and environmentalists have been advising for years and yet the EPD has barely done anything.

The EPD has no shortage of information as to the sources of air pollution, but it has just been highly ineffective in enacting improvements. Even with the power stations, the one area where gains were made, the Audit Commission notes: “Nox [nitrogen oxides] emission allowances set for local power plants to be effective from 2015 and 2017, would significantly exceed those proposed by the EPD consultant.” Elsewhere the report notes “the EPD has never achieved its performance target on API (not exceeding 100 on any day in a year) since setting the targets in 2006-07”.

Professor Anthony Hedley, who set up his eponymous environmental index, has called the government’s air pollution index, “a complete piece of fiction”. We suppose the Audit Commission should be congratulated for saying what many people have known for quite a long time.

There are new leaders at the EPD and a lot of people have high hopes they will enact measures to improve the environment. There are also many sceptics who believe it is just too hard to effect the necessary changes in Hong Kong. Let’s hope they’re wrong. These reports give it considerable ammunition to attack the problems.

The administration has agreed with both reports and says unequivocally that “the protection of health is the key guiding principle in the formulation of air-quality improvement measures,” and achieving the World health Organisation guidelines on air quality is a long-term goal.

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Air Pollution in Hong Kong

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