CAN attended the most recent Bills Committee meeting for the idling bill this week. Here is a summary of the views expressed by various legislators during the session:
Chan Hak Kan/ Tanya Chan
Both members proposed to exempt vehicles when interior temperatures reach 27ºC, citing the case of Toronto. The EPD pointed out that Toronto has since eliminated this exemption because it is too difficult to enforce.
Kam Nai Wai
Kam supports the anti-idling ordinance without exemptions, because it is important to foster the spirit of environmental protection in society. Moreover, to his view, an interior temperature monitoring exemption would be impossible to enforce. Rather, the government should introduce the new law by warning drivers during the first year, then introduce penalties once drivers have learned to adapt. The EPD pointed out that, typically, the enforcement of a new law lags behind its announcement, giving drivers sufficient time to adapt.
Ho advocates exemptions based on a grading system of weather conditions. Drivers would be permitted to idle during extreme weather. Alternatively, a seasonal weather exemption could be established.
Lee Cheuk Yan
Despite claiming to be a vocal advocate of driver health, Lee doesn’t believe that air pollution has short-term impacts on drivers’ health. Thus, he champions a seasonal exemption based on warm weather, i.e., June to September. To his (uninformed) view, drivers’ health should NOT be subordinated to cleaning up the air. Besides, without such an exemption, drivers will drive around instead of idling, potentially causing more emissions. The EPD stressed that idling can cause severe long and short-term health problems.
Lau believes that the idling law is only acceptable where there are covered taxi stands and areas. Overheated vehicles could adversely impact drivers’ business. She hopes that a new technology which enables idling without keeping the engine on could be the answer. The EPD responded that the new technology will not be ready until October and, besides, will have to undergo extensive testing before it can be introduced to the market.