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Advisory Council on the Environment

Progress of the Clean Air Programme

(ACE Paper 26/2001)
For information

PURPOSE

This paper informs Members of the progress of the measures for reducing motor vehicle emissions announced in the 1999 Policy Address and in May 2000, and the improvement in air quality in 2000.

PROGRESS OF THE MAJOR CLEAN AIR MEASURES

2. In his 1999 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced a comprehensive programme to reduce motor vehicle emissions for improving Hong Kong's air quality and set a target of reducing the respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from vehicles by 80% and 30% respectively by end-2005. Further initiatives to reduce vehicle emissions were announced in May 2000 to enhance the programme. Good progress has been made in the implementation of the various measures -
 

  1. Ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD) became the only motor diesel available at petrol filling stations around end-August 2000, one month or so after the introduction of a duty concession for this cleaner fuel. Compared with regular motor diesel, ULSD can reduce the RSP emissions of a vehicle by 15%.
     
  2. Disbursement of the one-of grant of $40,000 for each diesel taxi replaced by one that runs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) started in August 2000. Currently, over 8,900 of the 18,000 taxis run on LPG. Replacing all diesel taxis with LPG ones can reduce RSP and NOx emissions from vehicles by 25% and 6% respectively.
     
  3. About 13,500 particulate traps and catalysts have been installed on pre-Euro light diesel vehicles. Retrofitting all 40,000 such vehicles can reduce RSP emissions by vehicles by 6%.
     
  4. The franchised bus companies are retrofitting pre-Euro and Euro I buses with catalytic converters. A catalytic converter can reduce the RSP emissions from a pre-Euro bus by 25%. So far, 1,600 buses have been retrofitted with such device. The retrofit programme is expected to be completed by end of June 2001.
     
  5. The fixed penalty for smoky vehicle has been increased from $450 to $1,000 from 1 December 2000.
     
  6. The use of dynamometer for smoke testing has been extended to cover all diesel vehicles since December 2000.
     
  7. In step with the European Union, Hong Kong was one of the first places to tighten the emission standards for certain classes of vehicles below 3.5 tonnes to Euro III in January 2001. We will raise the emission standards for vehicles above 3.5 tonnes to meet Euro III standards on 1 October 2001 and the remaining classes of vehicles below 3.5 tonnes on 1 January 2002, in step with the European Union.
     
  8. The trial of alternative-fuel light buses has been completed. We will decide on the way forward in the light of the trial report being compiled.
     
  9. We are wrapping up the trial of retrofitting pre-Euro heavy vehicles with catalysts and will decide on the way forward in the light of the trial results.

IMPROVEMENTS IN AIR QUALITY

3. Noticeable improvement in both the long-term and short-term air quality was observed in 2000.

Long-term Air Quality


4. The improvement was reflected by the decreasing levels of pollutants and increasing number of air quality monitoring stations complying with the annual Air Quality Objectives (AQO) for the pollutants -

  1. Compared with 1999, the overall annual concentrations of RSP and NOx in the air reduced by 8% and 6% respectively in 2000. The decreasing trend was more apparent from August 2000 onwards when a number of key measures including the provision of grant for replacement of diesel taxis, particulate trap installation programme and introduction of ULSD were put in place. Between August and December 2000, the RSP and NOx levels dropped by 13% and 10% respectively compared with the same period in 1999.
     
  2. The number of air quality monitoring stations complying with the annual AQO for both RSP and NOx increased from 8 stations in 1999 to 10 stations in 2000.

Short-term Air Quality


5. The percentage of time with very high pollution level recorded at the air quality monitoring stations reduced in 2000:

  1. In 2000, the hourly API readings recorded at the 11 general stations exceeding 100 reduced by about 45%, as compared with 1999 (309 readings in 2000 as compared with 558 readings in 1999). The hourly API readings recorded at the three roadside stations exceeding 100 reduced by about 66%, as compared with 1999 (441 readings in 2000 as compared with 1,288 readings in 1999).
     
  2. Between August and December 2000, two hourly API readings recorded at the general stations exceeded 100, compared with 286 such readings in the same period in 1999. As for roadside stations, 339 API readings exceeded 100 between August and December 1999, compared with 112 in the same period in 2000.

Reducing number of smoky vehicles


6. The measures to reduce vehicle emissions have also effectively reduced the number of smoky vehicles on the road. At present, the number of smoky vehicles reported by Environmental Protection Department's spotters is about 50% less than that a year ago, despite 25% more spotters having been added to the team.

7. The above improvements reflect clearly that the measures implemented in 2000 are taking effect. We expect to see continued improving trend in our air quality in the coming few years upon full implementation of the control measures.

8. Members are invited to note the content of this paper.

Environmental Protection Department
June 2001

 

 

 

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