In the past five years, we have witnessed improved air quality with effective policy intervention. Under Clean Air Plan launched by Environment Bureau in 2013, the implementation of numerous measures has seen an approximate 30% reduction in the ambient and roadside pollution levels during 2013 – 2017.
However, there are far more the government should have done, and could have achieved.
Our public health is still insufficiently protected. Currently, the air quality in Hong Kong remains below satisfactory, with various air pollutants breaching World Health Organisation (WHO)’s safety standards. As per 2017 figures, we continue to see 5 lives prematurely taken away every day by air pollution. Hong Kong’s roadside pollution (Nitrogen Dioxide), one of the closest pollution sources in our daily lives, remains double of WHO’s safety level for the past 20 years. With the dense and populated urban environment, we are enveloped in such poisonous killers, resulting in a serious health emergency to each of us.
According to United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages states every administration across the globe is expected to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination by 2030.
To achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, Hong Kong government should delay no more to take the strong will and accountability to save the city from the health emergency posed by air pollution. Clean Air Network, a non-governmental organization focusing on air pollution issue in Hong Kong, has set three goals for positive social changes on air pollution control as follows:
1) Immediately revise Air Pollution Control Ordinance (APCO) to assert the government’s accountability for compliance with Air Quality Objectives (AQOs);
2) Immediate align Hong Kong’s Air Quality Objectives with Air Quality Guidelines (AQG), i.e. the ultimate targets of World Health Organisation (WHO) ;
3) Transport and Housing Bureau and Environment Bureau are obliged to collectively establish the target and timeline for reductions in roadside pollution concentrations in order to safeguard public health by:
a. Providing stringent policy intervention in approaches of emission control and transport management to significantly reduce ambient and roadside pollution level by 2022;
b. Ultimately aligning the ambient and roadside pollution levels with WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines
To accomplish the above three goals, we continue to amplify collective voices and drive changes for better air together through law and policy suggestions, as well as public education and engagement initiatives with community measurement and healthy neighbourhood.