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March 29th, 2013:

New Air Plan

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Air pollution plan not a rehash, says government


Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Cheung Chi-fai

Government denies its manifesto for cleaning up air quality contains nothing new and trades on ideas of the former administration

The government has rejected claims that its seven-year clean-air plan, released yesterday, is nothing but a rehash of the previous administration’s ideas.

Critics have said the road map – billed as the most comprehensive plan yet to improve Hong Kong’s air quality – features very few new ideas or measures.


Undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung-wai defended the strategy.

“[The plan] shows the strong intensity and determination of the government and what our priorities are,” Loh said.

One new measure, outlined by Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, aims to plug a loophole in prosecuting operators of smoky vessels. Cheung said plans for a law to introduce the Ringelmann chart would be presented to the legislature later this year.

The chart tracks the colour of smoke from white through shades of grey to black. Any vessel with smoke darker than a particular shade for more than three minutes would be liable to prosecution. Current law makes emitting dark smoke an offence only if it is proved to be a nuisance.

But aside from this initiative, critics say most of the measures have been announced by the previous administration.

Angus Wong, policy advocacy manager of World Green Organisation, was disappointed with the plan.

“It is old wine, new bottles, to some extent. But I don’t think they could come up with something drastically new,” he said.

He called on officials to implement all those previous measures and then consider addressing planning shortcomings that have trapped air pollutants in the city.

Professor Wong Tze-wai, an air pollution expert at Chinese University, said officials should be given time to do their work.

“We should not pour cold water on them right now,” he said.

Measures outlined in the road map include cleaner fuel for ships, retrofitting buses with emission controls, and better research into air pollution.

The government has promised to introduce legislation to require cleaner fuel for local vessels this year and ocean-going ships in port next year.

Loh said it had also initiated talks with Guangdong on a similar requirement for berthed ships at the province’s ports.

By the turn of the decade, she said, the Pearl River Delta region, including Hong Kong and Macau, could be turned into an emission-control area requiring even cleaner fuel.

About 1,400 old franchised buses will be retrofitted with selective catalytic reduction devices by 2016, in an attempt to lower nitrogen dioxide emissions.

Talks are still continuing with commercial diesel truck operators on phasing out old vehicles under a HK$10 billion scheme

On building up air science, Loh said local universities were exploring research to gauge the health impacts of air pollution.

She said environment officials would also be sent to Geneva to learn from air experts of the World Health Organisation.

Permanent secretary for development Wai Chi-sing said the bureau would build a city-wide cycling network and incorporate air-flow assessment in government works projects in the future.

Undersecretary for food and health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said health officials would provide professional advice on the impact of air pollution by tracking international trends and standards.


Air Pollution

Christine Loh Kung-Wai

Anthony Cheung Bing-Leung

Source URL (retrieved on Mar 29th 2013, 9:12am):


Plan to give Hong Kong world-class air quality in 7 years


Plan to give Hong Kong world-class air quality in 7 years

Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Cheung Chi-fai

But they caution some pollutants will persist even after new standards are introduced

Top officials yesterday unveiled a seven-year plan to cut Hong Kong’s notorious roadside air pollution, while admitting some of the targets might be hard to meet.

Billed as an air-quality roadmap to 2020, the plan says that if all measures are fully introduced, roadside pollution will begin to drop in the next two to three years, and see significant improvement in four to five.

But the officials admitted that the level of nitrogen dioxide, the dominant pollutant, will remain almost double the new standards to be introduced next year despite a 40 per cent drop.

“Our goal is for Hong Kong to be among the best in the world in understanding air quality so that we can continue to fight air pollution aggressively,” Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing said.

Our goal is for Hong Kong to be among the best in the world in understanding air quality so that we can continue to fight air pollution aggressively

Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing

He was joined at a press conference by Transport Minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and senior officials from the bureaus for development and food and health in a move Wong said showed co-operation and commitment across government.

Cheung, who oversees public and private transport operators – a key target of many measures – said his bureau aimed to improve air quality but it needed to be balanced with operators’ needs.

The measures include phasing out old diesel commercial trucks, retrofitting buses with emission controls and cleaner fuel for ships.

The plan projects that by 2020, the concentration of carcinogenic respirable suspended particles at the roadside will drop by 25 per cent from 60 micrograms per cubic metre of air in 2011 to 45 micrograms – below the new tightened standard.

Officials warned that nitrogen dioxide levels would still exceed the new standard despite falling 40 per cent to 75 micrograms.

Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh Kung-wai said the unique character of the city, with its high population and building density, made it difficult to tackle a nitrogen dioxide problem that also plagued London.

Loh said rectifying it might require tougher measures. “We might have to expand the pedestrianised areas or divert some traffic. But we are still exploring these and that’s why they are not in the plan now,” she said.

The joint approach raises hopes that the lack of policy bureau co-ordination in fighting air pollution – highlighted in the last report of the Audit Commission – will become a thing of the past.

But Friends of the Earth was not convinced as the plan lacked a mechanism for co-operation, while it was unclear what responsibility each bureau would shoulder for not meeting targets.

The group, along with Green Sense, protested outside the government headquarters over what they see as officials’ over-emphasis on infrastructure development at the expense of air quality.

Wong said the air targets might still be achieved even with development, while Loh said the whole government would take the blame or credit for missing or meeting the air targets.

Pending legislature approval, a new set of air-quality objectives will be introduced next year to replace those in use since 1987.

A health-based air pollution alert system modelled on that used in Canada will be introduced at the same time.

Measures proposed to fight air pollution in Hong Kong

  • Retrofit 1,400 franchised buses with selective catalytic reduction devices by 2016 to control harmful diesel-engine emissions
  • Mandate a fuel switch for ocean-going vessels berthing at Hong Kong and explore the feasibility of extending the switch to Pearl River Delta ports
  • Update air-quality objectives next year and introduce a new health-based air-pollution alert system
  • Collaborate with Guangdong to cut emissions from factories in the delta region
  • Strengthened emission controls for petrol and LPG vehicles
  • Low-emission zones for franchised buses


Air Pollution

Roadside pollution

Wong Kam-sing

Christine Loh Kung-Wai

More on this:

Most cities hiding vital pollution data from public [1]

Air pollution plan not a rehash, says government [2]

Source URL (retrieved on Mar 29th 2013, 8:59am):