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Mr Donald Tsang
Chief Executive of the HKSAR
Chief Executive Office
Central, Hong Kong
We are heartened to hear from your recent statements that fighting air pollution is now a top priority for your government. You will have the support of Hong Kong people in putting forward a set of comprehensive and aggressive policies to drive down air pollution within the shortest period of time possible, as can be seen from the support from this petition of over 9,000 residents we enclose. The petition was an initiative of AsiaXPAT, after they invited Civic Exchange to make a public presentation of Hong Kong\u2019s air quality problems in April 2006.
We believe the government needs to have two crucial policy tools to expedite a comprehensive programme to clean the air and to dramatically improve the city\u2019s energy efficiency. These tools are:
Organisation\u2019s new Global Air Quality Guidelines (coming into effect in September 2006) that are then turned into Air Quality Standards with legislative backing; and
\ue001Provides energy services at least cost to society;
\ue001 Does not waste scarce energy resources;
\ue001 Generates and uses energy highly efficiently;
\ue001 Seeks to spur economic growth;
\ue001 Protects the environment;
\ue001 Reduces Hong Kong\u2019s contribution to climate change;
\ue001 Increases human resource productivity; and
\ue001Promotes public health.
We have noted the government\u2019s briefing paper to the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) on launching a study to review Hong Kong\u2019s AQOs, which is scheduled for discussion today.
We are writing separately to ACE that the government\u2019s study should also include the costs to Hong Kong if the city\u2019s air quality was not dramatically improved. The poor air quality is already imposing an immediate and long-term health cost on every resident. The government should evaluate the consequences of not substantially reversing the worsening air quality quickly, as such external costs may well undermine Hong Kong\u2019s attractiveness as a place to live and work.
We look forward to you including a discussion on energy in your Economic Summit this September. Within the context of the national target in the 11th Five Year Plan to achieve a greater level of energy efficiency, we believe Hong Kong should also set an ambitious target to become more energy efficient, as this will only make our city not only more economically competitive but also enjoy the benefits of better public health. From this context, reducing emissions from power plants necessarily focuses on reducing air pollutants but improving energy efficiency focuses on the generation and use of power. Your efforts to \u2018dress down\u2019 to promote energy savings is a step forward but much more can be done if the government can use policy to lead an efficiency drive.
Another area the government needs to pay even more attention to is the link between vehicular emissions and town planning. We support the government\u2019s continuing efforts to tighten motor fuel standards and tailpipe emissions standards. However, we believe there needs to be a much greater effort made to promote a quick replacement of Hong Kong\u2019s relatively old commercial vehicular fleet to at least EURO III standards. Coupled with appropriate urban planning and design to reduce the \u2018street canyon effect\u2019, Hong Kong can then see marked improvement of its roadside air quality, which frequently exceeds the city\u2019s currently lax Air Quality Objectives and threatens our public health on a daily basis. New development areas should therefore be priority areas to factor in using urban planning and design knowledge to reduce air pollution impact.
While the total amount of marine emissions is relatively low when compared to emissions arising from power plants and vehicles, they have an important impact from a public health\u2019s perspective. As Hong Kong and Shenzhen have the densest shipping activities in the world, it behoves us to operate the cleanest ports and logistics activities. The government already has ample data showing the possible negative health impacts arising from marine emissions to devise a programme to work with the relevant sectors to improve port-logistics emissions, as well as lower energy intensity for these sectors.
You have noted that Hong Kong\u2019s air quality in 2005 has showed improvement. Our view is that this statement is premature. The year 2004 was a very poor year in air quality terms. Data shows the city\u2019s air quality is less bad in 2005 than it was in 2004 but the reason was due mainly to 2005 year being a relatively wetter year. Indeed, you can see from the chart below that the number of health threatening hazy days shot up from around mid-2003.
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