Restoring Blue Skies:
Review of the Policy Agenda on Air Pollution
Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

April 2008

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Synopsis of ideas and recommendations

One: Global citizenship
Two: Cooperation with the Mainland
Three: Energy policy
Four: Demand-side Management
Five: Infrastructure and urban planning
Six: Sustainable transport
Seven: Green procurement
Eight: Pollution tracking

52.   That air pollution affects health is a fact that almost goes without saying.  On the other hand, the effect of emissions from vehicles, factories and power plants varies for different districts, and we know very little about the precise relationship between the emissions and public health apart from generalities, e.g. that air quality in Tung Chung, Tuen Mun and West Kowloon is more directly affected by PRD emission; the central business district suffers mostly from local traffic emissions; while fine particulates (PM2.5) is probably a problem common to all.  The public health authorities should pay greater attention to researching and dissemination information about the impact of pollution on health.

53.   The Environmental Protection Department conducted a sophisticated modeling study in 1999, upon which the current emission targets are derived.  However, more information would be needed to correlate the relationship between air pollution and health, and to track the causes and effects of pollution in different districts.  Instead of sporadic and ad hoc studies, government should conduct regular and systematic research on the effect of pollution in different districts, to enable the cost, benefits and effectiveness of various abatement measures to be assessed.

54.     The starting point is to establish a database identifying main pollution sources.  In Hong Kong , the Air Pollution Control Ordinance already requires all licensees to submit emission reports.  For non-licensed sources such as roadside emissions, the data will have to be estimated by the EPD and Transport Department.  The same should then be done for the Mainland.  The EPD¡¦s 2002 study (using 1997 as the base year) already provided a framework with the now well-known emission reduction objectives for the four major pollutants.  Now that the Guangdong Province has launched a comprehensive study to identify the main sources of pollution in the PRD, refinements could be incorporated over time to yield higher-quality data and to mirror changing circumstances.  In other words, a complete database of pollution sources can now be technically compiled, say after five years of data collection.  (34)

55.     The comprehensive database will enable a geographical contour of emissions to be drawn up, which will be a useful information tool for the public.  Such pollution mapping will shed light on the correlation between emission source and pollution concentration, thus providing a basis for setting more specific emission reduction targets over time.  How and to what extent power plants or mobile sources affect the air quality in specific areas like Causeway Bay or Mongkok can be studied more thoroughly, with a view to improving the micro-climates of these districts through the appropriate town planning and urban design measures.  The correlation between public health and district pollution will thus help address the risk to public health more effectively.  (35)

56.     In addition, it is important also to better understand acute exposure to pollution in Hong Kong¡¦s heavily trafficked and poorly ventilated street canyons ¡V for example, how many people are pedestrians or are in the vehicles each day and for how long on average are they exposed? How many vendors and shop workers spend their entire working day in such conditions? What is the air quality indoors for offices/residences along such routes and how many people are thereby routinely exposed to acute levels of roadside air pollution? With such information it should be possible to also survey the respiratory health of a sample of people from the above groups so that we can begin to get a better picture of the consequences of frequent acute pollution exposure episodes. (36)

Nine: Transparency and reporting
Ten: Building human capital for sustainability

The Way Forward

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