27th February, 2019
Clean Air Network’s Response to the 2019-20 Budget
Only 2 paragraphs are written in the Budget on environmental protection. The government obviously not taking the air pollution issues in Hong Kong seriously, given that the ozone level has reached 20-year high this year.
Regarding the relaxation of eligibility criteria of the “One-for-One Replacement” Scheme for electric private cars, Clean Air Network (CAN) cannot stress enough the importance of controlling the growth of the number of petrol- and diesel-powered private cars, if we want to reduce roadside pollution. With no new measures to control the city’s private car growth and policies on transport demand management, the sales of non-electric private cars will continue to remain strong. The government should consider banning the importation of diesel-powered private cars and raising the first registration tax on petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles (including private cars).
When promoting the use of electric private cars and expanding the electric vehicle (EV) charging networks, the government must at the same time, promote and lead the full electrification of public transport in the city. The Pilot Green Transport Fund should further expand and allocate funds to introduce the latest electric public transport technology from overseas. According to Environmental Protection Department’s reply to the Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs, it is estimated that around 1,380 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 80 tons of respirable suspended particulates (RSP) could be reduced in 2025 if all double-deck franchised buses were electric buses, which approximately account for 10% and 20% of the total transport emission in a year
CAN welcomes the government’s decision to take our advice and plan to implement the Electronic Road Pricing Scheme Pilot (ERP) to address the city’s congestion problem. Overseas research has shown that ERP is effective in reducing the number of car use during peak hours and thus reducing roadside pollution.
In the public consultation of ERP pilot scheme in 2015, CAN suggested that the government should allocate the revenue generated from the ERP scheme directly to improve public transportation, so that people are more encouraged to use public transport. If the government uses the “additional recurrent resources” provided by the revenue to subsidize citizen’s public transport fare, it will surely help reduce the demand for driving during peak hours, which would also be a fairer scenario for public transport users.
Apart from allocating resources to promote district-based primary healthcare services, the government should also allocate funds for the Department of Health to implement prevention programs on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, etc. The World Health Organization confirmed earlier that air pollution is a leading contributor to NCDs. The Department of Health should make extra efforts to educate the public and increase public awareness of the associations between air pollution and NCDs.
- Set a target and timeline to clean up the fleet of diesel commercial vehicles to ultimately achieve complete zero-emission. In short term, the government should continue the incentive-cum-regulatory approach to clean up the existing fleet to meet Euro VI or higher standard.
- Set a target and timeline to clean up the fleet of franchised buses to ultimately achieve complete zero-emission. In short term, the government should also take the incentive-cum-regulatory approach to clean up the existing bus fleet to meet Euro 6 or higher standards.
- Strengthen mobile remote sensing equipment in terms of frequency and area of coverage in order to effectively curb excessive roadside emissions.
- Incorporate chassis dynamometer aided emission test into the Transport Department’s annual examination for license renewal, where the parameters should include Nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
- Manage the growth and usage of vehicles with the introduction of electronic road pricing, increase in first registration tax and fuel surcharge.
- Extend the network of roadside monitoring stations to other 15 districts in addition to the existing ones in Mongkok, Central and Causeway Bay.
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Loong Tsz Wai
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