6th October, 2021
Clean Air Network
Response to Policy Address 2021
In response to the 2021 Policy Address, Clean Air Network would like to make the following statements.
We welcome the Government to continue to allocate resources on improving air quality and addressing climate change issues, especially with a view to revamp the government structure within related bureaus and departments.
New arrangements include the Chief Executive to chair the Steering Committee on Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality, and the proposal for the Environment Bureau to set up a new Office of Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality. It is expected the new organisation will enhance the coordination among Government bureaus and departments.
Northern Metropolis Proposal
The Government should study the potential environmental health risks such as regional air pollution in the Northern Metropolis Proposal. Over the years, air pollution continued to bring hazardous health impacts to the populations in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).
It is worrying to see the level of regional Ozone level reaching a record high number and in recent years on an upward trend.
In medium to long term
- CAN urges the HKSAR Government to take systematic approaches to tackle the regional air pollution issues.
- Based on the existing foundation of regional collaboration, such as the Cooperation Agreement on Regional Air Pollution Control and Prevention among Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, which came into effect in 2014, CAN urges the Chief Executive to lead the discussion with GBA to identify the possibility of institutionalising a regional agency and establishing a regional legal framework.
- To further empower such a regional institution, CAN calls for the Governments to explore developing a regional legal framework.
In short to medium term
- The Government should work with the Guangdong counterparts to develop an action plan to minimize the increase of ozone emission.
- The Government should upgrade the emission standard of HKSAR and Pearl River Delta (PRD) waters to limit sulphur content of Ocean-going vessels to 0.1% mass/mass. In our views this can be achieved via fulfilling the requirements of Emission Control Areas under International Maritime Organisation, or to upgrade the standard of Domestic Emission Control Areas to “DECA2.0”. The DECA2.0 should include regulation of not only sulphur-related pollutants (such as sulphur oxides, SOx) but also nitrogen-related pollutants (such as nitric oxides, NOx). By limiting NOx emissions, it is possible the regional Ozone problems can be mitigated.
- The Government should also provide support to accelerate the transition to alternative cleaner ferries, including hybrid, electric, hydrogen fuel cell, or other technology, for both Local Vessels (that serve in-harbour and the outlying island routes) and River Vessels (including Macau ferry and PRD ferry).
Development of new energy public transport
CAN urges the Government to serve as a leading role to set out directions and priorities to resolve the new energy issues to provide high-level of coordination,
- i) among bureaus within the Government and ii) between the Government and industry stakeholders, and adopt a multi-pronged approach in supporting the transition of commercial vehicles (CV) to zero emission modes. The next version of the new energy public transport roadmap (to be announced in 2025) should outline the strategy for transitioning CV.
The Government has the obligation to 1) set a development target or approach for infrastructure, financial and operation model, 2) coordinating bureaus and departments especially with regards to facilitating infrastructure building, new energy vehicles trials, administration process for industry application for lands and financial resources.
The Government should also 3) develop a new energy vehicle roadmap with specific phase out timeline for conventional commercial vehicles and public transport. For example, the UK has set a more ambitious time frame to phase out internal combustion engines (ICE) light duty commercial vehicles to 2030, and Singapore to phase out all ICE vehicles, including heavy duty buses, by 2040.
In terms of infrastructure development, the Government should 4) develop a charging facilities installation plan specific for public transport or commercial vehicles in Public Transport Interchange or Bus Terminuses in all districts, in order to provide the necessary conditions for operators to transit to zero emission fleet.
Transport Demand Management
In order to achieve cleaner air and carbon neutrality by 2050, as introduced in the Hong Kong Climate Action Plan 2030+ published in 2017 (which will be updated in October 2021), Hong Kong needs to leverage smart technology for better traffic management, enhance walkable environment to reduce transport-related emissions per capita.
Ms. Carrie Lam has outlined in her election platform in 2017 to propose new initiatives, including implementation of Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme and transforming Hong Kong to a “walkable city”. It was disappointing to see the lack of substantial progress made and new plan proposed in the last Policy Address of her term to support both initiatives.
Regarding “Walkable City” and “Consultancy Study on Enhancing Walkability in Hong Kong”
Regarding “Walkable City”, the supplementary information of the Policy Address 2021 provided progress update on various areas, including to expedite implementation of pedestrian links, construction of footbridge, retrofit barrier-free access facilities at walkways, connect Wan Chai and Sheung Wan, etc.
These are initiatives which help to enhance walkable environment, but piecemeal. The existing progress or plan was not sufficient to address objectives of professionals and advocates, such as
- Close the gap in last-mile logistics and improve accessibility for all
- Build a liveable city by enable placemaking
- Redistribute space from vehicles to pedestrians
- Address street management
- Update road design standard and codes of practice
- Consider interlinks of different modes of transportation
With an objective to formulate planning and design standards based on pedestrian-first principles for developing Hong Kong into a walkable city, since commenced in 2017, the 30-month “Consultancy Study on Enhancing Walkability in Hong Kong” led by the Transport Department is long overdue.
Regarding Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) Pilot Scheme
There is lack of substantial progress made for Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) Pilot Scheme in Central.
For a city with limited urban road space, it is a proven tool to rationalize the use of road space. Since raised by Ms. Carrie Lam in Chief Executive Election 2017, a Consultation of the Scheme was put forth by the Transport Department to the District Council of Central and Western to seek public opinion and support in 2019.
There was merely one paragraph in the Supplementary Information of the Policy Addresses 2021 to state that “Continued to develop a detailed proposal on the Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme in Central taking into account the advice and suggestions from the International Expert Panel.” No specific new direction or plan was specified.
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