CAN’s response to the Direct Investigation into Government’s Implementation of Strengthened Control of Exhaust Emissions from Petrol and LPG Vehicles by The Ombudsman
The Office of The Ombudsman released a direct investigation today into Government’s Implementation of Strengthened Control of Exhaust Emissions from Petrol and LPG Vehicles. According to the investigation report, there is an ineffective coordination between Environmental Protection Department and Transport Department. Clean Air Network echoed this comment and urged that a task force be set up by the government to evaluate the shortcomings of current collaborations between the two Bureaus and departments.
Inaction by Transport Department in tackling roadside emission
It was clearly stated in the 2013 released Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong that both Transport and Environment Bureau play an indispensable role in solving the air pollution problem of Hong Kong. However, in reality, EPD failed to effectively coordinate its different tasks while Transport Department obviously did not regard tackling air problem as its duty:
1) According to the report, the expert group (including representatives from TD) formed by EPD showed its support for the consultant’s proposal in as early as 2002 of using remote sensing equipment and treadmills to inspect vehicles with excessive exhaust emissions. However, the Transport Department has not followed up on the proposal for the past 14 years.
2) Since Transport Department has a close connection with the transport sector and ongoing programs to monitor vehicles, they should take up more responsibilities in promoting the adoption of different tests and all relevant programs.
Tremendous social cost by roadside air pollution
CAN reiterated that roadside air pollution is the biggest public health crisis in Hong Kong. According to the Hedley Environmental Index, there were 2196 premature deaths and a loss of 27.4 billion dollar in Hong Kong due to air pollution, which is detrimental to the Hong Kong society.
Nitrogen Dioxide, which mainly comes from exhaust pipes, should be dealt with effective measures. As has been long advocated by CAN, treadmill tests should be included in the annual vehicle examination to tackle roadside pollutants. This measure will lower relevant medical costs of the public and thus producing greater benefits for the whole society.
However, CAN does not agree with the report’s recommendation that the government should provide financial incentives for vehicle operators to carry out tests. The government has issued an one-off subsidies to replace catalytic convertors for all LPG vehicles in 2014. Out of Polluters-pay Principle, the Transport sector should bear their costs in keeping their vehicles in good condition. The general public who are suffering from air pollution related diseases would be jeopardized and hence these costs should not be externalized.