Clean Air Network response to EPD’s 2017 air quality report

Today Environmental Protection Department (EPD) held a press conference to analyse 2017 air quality. Although the concentration of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) decreased in 2017 when compared to that in 2016, the level of PM10, PM2.5 and ozone recorded an increase last year. The roadside air quality deteriorated, with the level of NO2 and PM 10 increased by 5% and 3% respectively, comparing to those levels in 2016.

Besides the uncontrollable growth of vehicles, the deteriorating roadside air quality is contributed by old and dirty vehicle fleets which emit excessive air pollutants. According to an EPD research[1], a real world driving test of in-use LPG taxis installed with portable emission measuring system (PEMS) was carried out. It was found that the emission of NO2 of LPG taxis largely exceed the corresponding emission standard. The emission of 27 Euro III and Euro IV taxis was above the standard for 4.5 times to 49 times, and some of the Euro IV taxis with catalytic convertor was found to have 7.74 times higher emission level than those Euro VI taxis without catalytic convertor installed.

The Environmental Protection Department must answer the following questions:

1)       How do the LPG taxis contribute to the rise? How many of the current fleet of taxi are covered by the PEMS?

2)       What are the impacts and condition of the catalytic convertors installed in LPG taxis? How common is the condition of excess emission of NO2 by LPG taxis?

3)       Does EPD has an plan to install new catalytic convertors for the taxis again, or any other necessary measures, in response to the aging taxis fleet with excessive NO2 emission?

In 2014, there were 13,942 taxis and 2,881 minibuses installed with new catalytic convertors. The aging taxis and minibuses fleet are expected to emit enormous nitrogen oxides since they contributes to 21% of NO2 emitted on the road[2]. With the exacerbating traffic congestion, the roadside air quality would not be improved soon in the near future.

The government has over a thousand billion Hong Kong dollars fiscal reserve. However, only three electric taxis, three electric light buses and 21 single-deck electric buses were subsidized for testing under Pilot Green Transport Fund with the cap of 0.3 billion HKD. To curb the increasing trend of roadside air pollution, Clean Air Network urges the Environment Bureau to take a more pro-active role in tackling roadside air quality by introducing a new fund for full electrification of public transport, including buses, taxis and minibuses.

Patrick Fung, CEO of Clean Air Network, comments, “The sustaining high level of roadside air pollution, is even worsened by the sickening transport – ever growing transport volume and density, lengthened commuting time due to traffic congestion, which all lead up to increasing health risk faced by daily commuters. The Environment Bureau fails to introduce more emission reduction measures to reduce health risks faced by citizens.”

More importantly, there are institutional loopholes which avoided the different Bureaux and Departments to work together.

1)       As one of the largest public health risk, there is a lack of effort from the Health Authority over the years in minimizing exposure of general public from air pollution.

2)       As a key factor for worsening roadside pollution, there is a lack of measurable target for Transport and Housing Bureau to control number of motorized vehicles.

3)       There is a lack of accountability over breach of maximum exceedances allowed – the Air Pollution Control Ordinance does not stipulate a legally binding standard and no official from Environment Bureau bears any legal responsibility for the failure to achieve the Air Quality Objectives in Hong Kong.

Clean Air Network calls for the immediate attention of the Chief Executive on this public health crisis, and urges the Chief Executive to lead the co-ordination among the stated Authorities to improve air quality, as promised in her Manifesto.

For Media Enquiries:

Patrick Fung – Chief Executive Officer/3971 0106, 9834 8892/ Patrick@hongkongcan.org

Loong Tsz Wai – Community Relations Manager/ 3971 0106, 6256 2928/ loong@hongkongcan.org

Winnie Tse Wing Lam – Campaign Officer/3971 0106, 6175 6168/ Winnie@hongkongcan.org

[1] https://www.polyu.edu.hk/cee/MOVE2016/4c-04-WONG.pdf

[2] https://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/chinese/fc/fc/w_q/enb-c.pdf

Story posted on
16th Jan, 2018

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