Clean Air Network (CAN) welcomes the Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s decision to invest HK$240 billion over the next 15 to 20 years to tackle climate change issues. In the Policy Address announced on Wednesday (6th October), the Chief Executive said a new office of Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality will be established and put in place for the government’s Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050.
CAN has been urging the government during the past few years that in order to tackle critical air pollution issues which is a perennial problem locally and internationally, the government must set a realistic target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In September, CAN submitted a series of recommendations on this year’s Policy Address. We are delighted to see that some of our recommendations, especially aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, are included in one of the major environment protection policies.
Roadside Pollution and Green Transport
Roadside pollution is one of the key issues that CAN has been closely monitoring for more than a decade. In our recommendations to the Chief Executive this September, CAN urged the government to set out a roadmap to address this issue by laying out a holistic plan to stop the new registration of fuel-propelled private cars by 2035 and transit to electric vehicles. On top of that, we’ve also pointed out that commercial vehicles including public transport is the major contributor to roadside pollution, 95% of PM10 and NOx emissions and 75% of carbon emissions are from all vehicles including public transport such as franchised buses. Therefore moving towards electric vehicles is a vital step to reduce roadside pollution.
CAN welcomes the “green transport” initiatives in this year’s Policy Address, in which the government pledged to act more proactively to pursue hydrogen fuel cell buses with franchised bus companies and to conduct trials. Based on the target which was set by the Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularization of Electric Vehicles early this year, hopefully green energy public transport will be available in 2025. CAN also welcomes the government’s plan on ceasing new registration of fuel-propelled and hybrid cars in 2035 or earlier. The number of charging facilities for electric vehicles will be increased to meet the demand in the future.
Strategic Policies are urgently needed
Though the government has initiated other policies such as mobilizing the entire community to practice waste reduction to reduce the carbon emissions from waste as well as developing waste-to-energy facilities to support Green Economy. Some crucial strategies are needed to be implemented to make sure Hong Kong can truly become a livable city as the Chief Executive cited in her Policy Address. CAN has proposed some strategic policies changes to the government as below:
A. Strengthen the cooperation with Greater Bay Area
Strengthen regulatory framework of ship vessels operating in Greater Bay Area (GBA) waters. Initiating dialogues with GBA counterparts and upgrading the emission standard of HKSAR and Pearl River Delta (PRD) waters to fulfill the requirement of Emission Control Areas (ECAs) under International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
B. Iron out a legal framework with Guangdong and Macau on air pollution policies
Enhance management framework of regional air pollution with Guangdong, Macau to improve the air quality in the region.
C. Tighten the Air Quality Objectives to WHO’s standard
Tighten HKSAR AQOs to WHO AQO latest by 2035. In this year’s Policy Address, the Chief executive initiated a mega project – “The Northern Metropolitan”, in which the project development will cover 300 square kilometres ,36% of Hong Kong land.Though details such as a roadmap and approximate budget have not been disclosed by the Chief Executive, CAN believes a AQOs Review is urgently needed.
D. Implementing a new remedy for air pollution exposure management
Strengthen exposure management by implementing a new paradigm based on exposure or health risk management to better understand and lower the risks of populations being exposed to air pollution both outdoors and indoors.
E. Set out a legal framework on regulating indoor air pollution
Regulate indoor air quality by setting a timetable for setting a mandatory standard for Indoor Air Quality to be applied across various types of indoor environments.
F. Implementing mandatory regulations on indoor air pollution in schools
Strengthen management of air pollution in school neighborhoods. CAN believes that Indoor Air Quality standard (IAQ) should be made mandatory in all primary and secondary schools.