Hong Kong, 22 December 2016 － Business Environment Council Limited 商界環保協會有限公司 (“BEC”) launched a Report on Monday 19th on air pollution in Hong Kong, prepared by BEC’s Roadside Emissions Taskforce. The launch event was well attended, by government officials, BEC members from various business sectors, academics and NGOs.
The report highlights the impact of emissions from road transport on health, whilst also flagging up the inter-connected issue of carbon emissions. Though Hong Kong has made good progress on reducing its emissions, the report points out that it still does not meet WHO standards with some emissions such as NOx and Particulate Matter being more than double the WHO guideline limits1. Private vehicle numbers continue to rise creating congestion and increasing emissions from higher emitting vehicles like buses (higher per vehicle but not per passenger) and goods vehicles/trucks.
The role of both Government and business in addressing emissions is recognised as well as the need for a holistic approach that addresses air pollution and carbon emissions. Accordingly, the report makes recommendations for both Government and business on road transport and related vehicles.
BEC Chairman, Mr Richard Lancaster said “This is an example of the business sector coming together and engaging Government to try and collectively solve a pressing issue for Hong Kong. The report highlights some short term changes that can make a significant impact such as moving to low emission non-road mobile machinery and electric public light buses, and also some building blocks that should lead to medium to longer term improvement.”
The report2 sets out a vision of Hong Kong’s future as a healthy, liveable place with good air quality and healthy modes of transport, as well as a mobile efficient city, transitioning to a low carbon economy and quick to use and develop new technology to get there.
It articulates the principles that the Taskforce believes need to be applied by the Government to achieve clean air and a transition to a low carbon efficient city. These range from:
- policy being about moving people and goods speedily, not necessarily speeding up the movement of all vehicles,
- focus on tackling emissions from high emitting vehicles and reducing congestion,
- ensuring a good relationship between the level of subsidy and actual pollution/carbon improvements, so that Government incentives are optimised,
- a holistic approach which takes on board the range of emissions from carbon to NOx and particulate matter
- walking and cycling should be seen as modes of transport.
The Taskforce Chair, BEC Board Director, Ir TC Yee, said “Though Hong Kong has made good progress it still has some way to go before it meets WHO guideline standards on air quality. The Taskforce’s recommendations include reviewing and modifying the system of incentives, tax waivers and infrastructure spend to ensure that we get the best possible air quality and carbon benefits for our funds. This means directing incentives towards high emitting vehicles like buses and non-road mobile machinery and looking to incentivise those vehicle types that are good alternatives in the short term, whilst also supporting the infrastructure for the longer term including EV charging facilities. Smart traffic management and improved walking and cycling facilities are also recommended.”
The report sets out a number of recommendations for both the Governmental policy landscape and for businesses too. These range from:
- enhancing public transport including by progressively introducing bus lanes and bus priority junctions,
- incentivizing a shift to low emission vehicles and fuel types including electric public light buses, Euro VI double decker buses and diesel commercial vehicles, and low emission non-road mobile machinery (used heavily in construction).
- supporting a shift to low emission private vehicles and taxis, by developing a medium term plan through a cross-sectoral dialogue platform and in the short term carry out a review to ensure a targeted and cost effective use of taxes and incentives, including incentivizing the development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, within the constraint of seeking to reduce and at minimum maintain private vehicle numbers.
- the use of smart traffic management systems from electronic road pricing to better systems for shifting peak time deliveries, as well as the use of smart logistics routing systems,
- making use of walking and cycling as modes of transport, with cycling being developed as a means of travel not only within new development areas, and
- developing an ambitious but achievable roadmap regarding the AQOs and a long term plan that drives R & D and facilitates orderly change.
The recommendations relate to the short term and the longer term, looking to encourage some immediate changes whilst paving the way for more far-reaching change over the medium term. For more information, please see: http://bec.org.hk/resource-centre/publications.
1 See the Government’s own monitoring data. http://www.aqhi.gov.hk/en/annual-aqi/annual-aqi-trend9c57.html?stationid=81
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