As long ago as 1995, the Strategic Environmental
Assessment Report of the Territorial Development Strategy Review
already foresaw poor air quality in 2006.
ˇ¦s development was simply not sustainable under the prevailing
transport and energy policies.
Despite vigorous efforts over the past ten years such as
introduction of unleaded petrol and catalytic converters, the
conversion from diesel to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for
taxis, and more recently incentives for low-emission vehicles,
pollution concentrations in urban areas such as Causeway Bay,
Central, Mongkok, Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, and Shamshuipo, where
millions of people live, remain unacceptable.
In 1997, in light of the worsening vehicle emissions, the
Chamber issued a position paper titled ˇ§Air Quality in
: Time for Further Action?ˇ¨
In the paper the Chamber called on the government to
develop a comprehensive transport-environment policy covering
financing of rail systems, innovative surface electrified
transport, and alternative fuels for large vehicles.
The Chamberˇ¦s call is as relevant today as it was ten
We believe the community has reached a consensus that our
cityˇ¦s public transport should be served primarily by a
We have developed a world-class system of mass transit,
which will be further expanded as announced in the recent Policy
Address, but we believe it can and should go even further. Despite
the top quality of the rail network, its coverage is still skeletal compared to
systems in other world cities.
expand the rail network further, government should consider
developing new railways to meet future demand.
of the city depends on our taking a pre-emptive and pro-active
approach in planning for our future transport needs.
At the street level, radical as it may sound, the
Government should aim at zero-emission vehicles to supplant
those powered by internal combustion engines. This
means not only free
wheeling, but also tethered electric
vehicles such as trams and trolley buses.
ago the Chamber advocated the introduction of electric trolley
buses into the city center, and we called for the tramlines to
With advances in town planning and urban design, fresh
opportunities now arise in the new waterfront in Central,
transport should therefore be built into these plans, to enable
the central business district to get a ˇ§breath of fresh airˇ¨
instead of more vehicle exhausts.
Furthermore, proven electric technology now exists for
scooters, cars, shuttle buses and light vans which matches the
performance, autonomy (the distance between stops for
re-powering) and reliability of conventionally powered vehicles.
As the technology is already available, Government can provide
much-needed leadership in making this a reality.
Clean transport such as rail and electric trolley buses
notwithstanding, vehicles on combustion engines will remain a
reality for a long time to come.
Much progress has been made in controlling omissions and
smoky vehicles, but the everyday experience remains that
emission at street level is still a problem.
This is particularly so on the days of high air pollution
where the Air Pollution Index (API) nears (or exceeds) 100, with
the ambient pollution amplified by the roadside emissions.
If cleaning up regional smog is a long-term effort, at
the street level some improvements can be made through
controlling idling engines.
The Chamber therefore supports legislation to require
motorists to switch off the engines of their vehicles while
waiting, as proposed in the consultation paper entitled ˇ§A
Proposal to Ban Idling Vehicles with Running Enginesˇ¨.
Although such a law would only produce a very small
effect in terms of reducing overall pollution, given the highly
compact nature of our city and the deteriorating ambient air
quality, such legislation does help make the city more liveable.
the specific arrangements to implement the ban on idling
engines, the Chamber has the following views.
fine for non-complying motorists should be akin to that of
the consultation paper suggests, the ban should be across
the board except for disciplinary or emergency service
provide flexibility for vehicles which need to keep their
engines running for operational reasons, we would support
one more exemption for licensed public vehicles above
certain ambient temperature (e.g. 28 degrees Celcius, or
when the Observatory issues a Very Hot Weather Warning) and
within certain time limit (e.g. 5 minutes).
is understandable that the ban on idling engines cannot be
enforced completely, just as the legislation on illegal
parking and wearing of seat belts, To make it more
effective, there should be an explicit administrative
commitment to strictly enforce the legislation when the API
is above 100.
In the broader picture, eco-driving is more than just
turning engines off.
It should also be about managing emission control and
more rational and efficient use of road space.
On emission control at the street-level, installations
such as catalytic converters for relevant vehicles would surely
help, but we need more aggressive measures to promote energy
Regulation of fuel type would be useful (e.g. mandating
ultra low sulphur diesel) but the government should also explore
more options to regulate emissions directly ˇV this could make
possible solutions provided by environmental technology
companies, instead of relying too heavily on fuel control.
To strengthen enforcement, an option worth exploring
would be to introduce an annual air quality certification for
On efficient use of road space, there
should be room for further improvements in reducing inefficient
For public transport, this means reducing redundant public
bus routes, rationalizing bus stops and restricting the
proliferation of private bus transport.
efficient road use could also be achieved if the time for
delivery vehicles to operate could be effectively regulated,
delivery time to off-peak hours in congested areas.
This may cause some inconvenience to businesses that
require frequent and timely deliveries, and no doubt the
impact on these businesses should be fully explored, but as
an option it should be seriously pursued.
The road pricing concept put forth in the earlier public
engagement exercise by the Council for Sustainable Development
is also relevant.
The Chamber reiterates our support for electronic road
pricing (ERP) as a means to reduce road traffic in congested
areas, and hence alleviate roadside air pollution.
In implementing ERP, alternative
routes and bypasses must be provided, and the traffic impact on
the alternative routes must be acceptable.
To minimize the impact on commuters and business vehicles,
be provided for public transport, and ERP should be implemented flexibly to allow loading and
unloading during designated non-peak hours.
Other market schemes consistent with ERP such as time-of-use
tunnel pricing should also be considered to reduce traffic
Finally, as a major owner and user of vehicles, the
government should lead by example.
A commitment to replace its own fleet by eco-friendly
vehicles (e.g. hybrid vehicles) will be a welcome move.