The Chief Executive, Mr. C Y Leung, unveiled a raft of bold measures to improve air quality and the environment in his Policy Address on January 16.
“These endeavours will turn Hong Kong into a healthy, low-carbon and resource-saving metropolis that is in harmony with nature,” Mr. Leung said.
Having already set emission reduction targets with Guangdong for 2015 and 2020, the Chief Executive said his next priority was to improve roadside air quality.
“Diesel commercial vehicles are a major source of roadside air pollution in Hong Kong. To meet the 2015 and 2020 emission reduction targets, I propose setting aside $10 billion as subsidies to owners of over 80 000 heavily polluting pre-Euro and Euro I to III diesel commercial vehicles in order to progressively phase out these vehicles having regard to their pollution level,” Mr. Leung said.
The scheme is expected to significantly reduce the overall emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides by 80 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
The Chief Executive also proposed setting a service life limit of 15 years for newly registered diesel commercial vehicles.
In order to reduce roadside air pollution, the Chief Executive pledged to promote bus route rationalisation to reduce the number of overlapping or under-utilised services.
Other initiatives include retrofitting or replacing catalytic converters on franchised buses, taxis and minibuses to cut emissions.
“In addition, the Government will continue to take the lead in using more electric vehicles, which have zero emission, and solicit participation from public bodies as well as leading enterprises,” Mr. Leung said.
“On marine vessel pollution, the Government is considering bringing in new legislation to enforce the requirement for ocean-going vessels at berth to switch to low-sulphur diesel,” he added.
To reduce waste, the Chief Executive reiterated his pledge to support the recycling industry. He added that the Council for Sustainable Development, through its public engagement efforts, would devise a viable charging system for waste.
Mr. Leung proposed injecting $5 billion into the Environment and Conservation Fund to provide long-term and sustained support for green actions initiated by the community. He also pledged to set up a $500 million sustainable fisheries development fund to assist fishermen in adopting sustainable and high value-added modes of operation.
“To tackle issues such as waste management and air quality requires us to make choices. The community and the Government must both take responsibility for making the decisions,” Mr. Leung said.
“Hong Kong has unparalleled natural endowments. With better environmental conservation, Hong Kong can be the loveliest city in the world. We will engage the public in our discussion and set out clear objectives and a roadmap to improve the environment step by step,” the Chief Executive added.