Starting from today, ocean-going vessels (OGVs) will have to use low-sulphur fuel while berthing in Hong Kong. According to an earlier study by Civic Exchange, switching to 0.5% sulphur fuel at berth in Hong Kong waters is expected to reduce avoidable deaths from OGV emissions in Hong Kong from 385 to 197.
In general, Kwai Chung air monitoring station is used as the indicator for marine emission for it is located near the container port. The 24-hour average levels of sulphur dioxide on June 30 and July 1 since 2011 are shown below:
Even though the figures are lower compared to yesterday, it is too early to infer emission reduction after the implementation of the regulation. CAN believes number of vessels on the day could be one contributing factor. Clean Air Network will continue to monitor the situation and analyse the results on July 9 after one week of implementation.
CAN Chief Executive Officer Kwong Sum Yin said, “The government should strengthen law enforcement and conduct more frequent inspections on the ships in the first month. They should release the figures of any ocean going vessels that are not complying with the law. In order to monitor the effectiveness of emission reduction, the government should also employ mobile monitoring of pollutant concentration at container and cruise terminals.”
She also criticized that the current Air Quality Objective is too lax and inapt to protect public health. Currently the standard for 24-hour average concentration of SO2 is 125µg/m3. However, there was no exceedances of it in the past three years. The bar is set too low and CAN urges to align the standard with WHO recommended one: 20µg/m3.
In the near future, the HK government should collaborate with mainland government to explore the Ocean Going Vessels fuel switch at berth in PRD waters. In the long term, an ECA (Emission Control Area) should be set up in the PRD regions.