The level of air pollution in HK yesterday was amongst the worst on record…
HK registered over 315 polluted days last year (which the government part-blamed on “sunshine“) and there were no “clear” days on record until this morning…
The economic cost to HK continues to be immense…
Not to mention the health impact…
Much of the city’s smog drifts in from HK-owned Guangdong factories, but 53% of emissions are local. Roadside pollution is the easiest to tackle – 40% of RSPs (harmful particles that penetrate deep into the lungs) come from buses.
Diesel bus fumes contain:
- Particulate matter (PM), which can cause acute/chronic lung disease
- Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) & volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which react together in sunlight to form ground-level Ozone. Together, Ozone and NOx can cause acute/chronic lung impairment.
Removing the dirtiest diesel vehicles could reduce roadside particles by 80%, and cut cancer risks by half. There is a subsidy replacement scheme for old private vehicles and some buses will be fitted with filters. However, the bus franchises still have a free pass to pollute…
There remains 5,170 old, dirty buses on the road which are pre-Euro IV exhaust standard – 70% are Euro II or lower. The current standard, which kicked in last month, is Euro VI…
The government and bus companies have signed a contract to phase out pre-Euro V buses over the next 17 years – neither side wish to break the agreement.
Replacing buses now would pay for itself. The peer-reviewed Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis estimates that it would cost HK$15 billion to switch buses today for clean models, generating HK$26 billion in economic benefits from regained productivity and lower hospital admissions.
With its HK$52 billion surplus, the government could easily afford to fix this in a matter of months by purchasing modern models. The cost could be split evenly with bus companies.
Environmental standards and health impacts are largely absent from the licencing of bus franchises.
The Clean Air Network has called upon the government to bring forward the Euro V deadline, incorporate environmental performance into bus franchise agreements and to charge higher licencing fees for old buses.
Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth has called for bus routes to be rationalised. District counsellors and state subsidies keep little-used and unprofitable long distance routes alive. HK’s bus network map has barely changed in 20 years and has not kept pace with the city’s changing geography. Green groups have also called for more trials of hybrid and electric buses.
The next worst offender is shipping. Cargo and passenger marine vessels are the biggest source of sulphur and RSP emissions
Marine traffic in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Singapore is booming – Hong Kong’s port will drop to 4th busiest but our location means pollution will likely increase. The new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal will also worsen the city’s filthy air.
There are currently few regulations tackling maritime pollution though legislators want to see shipping companies switch to greener fuels around HK waters. Many ships burn hazardous sulphur oil which is banned in Europe and North America.
Some have called for an emissions control centre to be set up for the Pearl River Delta region – a HKUST report found that a cross-border control zone could cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 95%. Others have urged CY Leung to make pollution a priority in his upcoming policy address.
Government efforts in recent years have ranged from ineffective to comical. The idlying engines and ‘smoking at bus stops’ ban was pointless, and former leader Donald Tsang’s 2007 promise to improve the air failed miserably.
Until our leaders enact serious measures to tackle smog, the only protection against HK’s toxic air are N95 face masks (regular surgical masks are not effective). You can purchase these masks from hardware stores (e.g. around Shanghai Street, Mongkok) or from these sources: Totobobo, Respro, Vogmask, 3M N95.
Archive of political posts and coverage…
- A Tour of the Famous Greenpeace Ship, Rainbow Warrior III.
- Average Salaries of Those Who Serve Us.
- Child Abduction Rumours Are Textbook Scarelore.
- Citizens Left to Clean Beaches Still Brimming with Plastic Pellets.
- CY Leung Humiliated at Ceremony Ahead of July 1st March.
- Election 2012 as Popvote.hk is Hacked.
- Food Choices on the Hong Kong Poverty Line.
- Henry Tang’s Daughter’s Artwork.
- Hidden Agenda Raided Again Over the Weekend.
- Hong Kong 3rd Best for Human Freedom? The Truth About ‘That Survey’.
- Hong Kong’s Invisible Caged Poor: Mini Sculptures by Kwong Chi Kit.
- Hong Kong is World’s Most Racist State. See also: Hong Kong NOT World’s Most Racist State After All.
- Hong Kong’s Rooftop Slums.
- Hong Kong’s Shame – More Squalid Slums Discovered in the New Territories.
- How Hong Kong Would Look With The All Lights Out.
- How Mitt Romney Raised $Millions in HK & Macau.
- Indonesian Maids Rally in Support of Abused Domestic Helper.
- Judges Approve Transsexual Marriage as LGBT Event Planned for Weekend.
- Lantau Incinerator a Load of Old Rubbish.
- Manila Bus Crisis – Mourning Sickness.
- Memo an Affront to HK’s Autonomy as New HK Ai Wei Wei Piece Revealed.
- More Clueless Sexual Assault Comments, Now From HK’s Chief Prosecutor.
- New HK PSA: Shut Up and Love China.
- Poverty & Property: The Claustrophobic Reality of HK Shoeboxes.
- Revealed: CY Leung Met Tony Blair in Secretive June Meeting
- Security Chief Tells Women: ‘Reduce Drinking’ to Get Raped Less.
- Serious Crime Unit Arrests Graffiti Artist as US Criticises HK Human Rights.
- Squalor in Fanling: Slum Dwellings Return to Hong Kong (Photos).
- Tens of Thousands Surround Gov’t HQ Protesting Rejected HKTV Bid.
- The Heart-Warming Kindness of Hong Kong’s Heroes.
- The HK Standard: Ignorant at Best, Racist at Worst.
- The KONY 2012 HK ‘Night Sweep’.
- The McQueue of Shame?
- Time Out/Hemlock Tycoons Feature.
- Two HK School Children Demand GovHK Burn Ivory Stockpile
- Why Does Jackie Chan Hate Hong Kong?
The front lines (in reverse chronological order – most recent first)…
- Left 21 Anti-Poverty Halloween Rally.
- US Whistleblower Edward Snowden Seeks Refuge in HK, 2013. More on the ‘Support Snowden’ rally: Part I: Preparations, Part II: Global media coverage, Part III: Photos, Part IV: Videos.
- Giant Dog Shit is Re-dedicated to Politician Chan Kam-Lam, 2013.
- Tiananmen Vigil 2013. See also: Preview of 2013 Candle-lit Vigil.
- Depraved HK Newspaper Needn’t Fear HK’s Media Watchdogs, 2012. See also: Media Ethics Complaint Against Oriental Daily Upheld.
- Gaza Rally 2012.
- Tiananmen Vigil 2012.
- Why I Attempted to Arrest Tony Blair, 2012. See also: £2420 ‘Arrest Blair’ Bounty Awarded.
- 24-hr Anonymous Guerrilla Art Installation, 2010.
- Anniversary of the Tibetan Occupation, 2010.
- Gaza Flotilla Rally, 2010.
- HK-GZ High Speed Rail Link Protests, 2010.
- Anniversary of the Tibetan Occupation, 2009.
- Annual Democracy Rally, 2009.
- Gaza Rally, 2009.
- Tiananmen Vigil 2009.
- Annual Democracy Rally, 2008.
- Buy Nothing Day, 2008.
- China Human Rights Protest, 2008.
- Olympic Torch Relay, 2008 See also: Olympic Countdown and Civil Liberties Legal Case, 2008.
- Tiananmen Vigil 2008.
- Maxim Magazine Feature, 2006.
- Minimum Wage Protest, 2006.
- Worker’s Rights in Education, 2006.
Rallies/Demonstrations attended by, or covered by, Hong Wrong…
- Lantau Incinerator Protest, 2012.
- LGBT Anti-Discrimination Rally, 2012.
- Shots from HK’s Gay Pride Parade, 2012.
- Shots from the National Education Protests of 2012.
- Occupy Hong Kong, 2011. See also: Occupy Hong Kong a Bit Embarrassing, Asked to Leave, Occupy HK Refuse to Speak to Media and Occupy Hong Kong Evicted (pictures).
Reinterpreting major local news events in English for foreign readers and expats…
- Full Lowdown: 2012 Election Aftermath. Protests Continue, Albert Ho Quits & Racist Candidate Loses.
- Full Lowdown: Battle of the Bullshit – Falun Gong Edition.
- Full Lowdown: HK Lamma Ferry Disaster 2012.
- Full Lowdown: HK Political Shit-storm Ahead of July 1st, 2012. See also: Full Lowdown of Handover Weekend 2012: Protest Minimised, Reporter Removed.
- Full Lowdown: HK’s 2012 National Education Protests. See also: Full Lowdown: Small Victory for Scholarism as 170,000+ Protest National Education.
- Full Lowdown: HK’s Tiananmen Vigil & Protests 2012.
- Full Lowdown: July 1st Pro-Democracy March, 2013. See also: The coolest, most inspiring shots from the 2013 July 1st Rally.
- Full Lowdown: Time Hong Kong Moved on from the Manila Bus Crisis.
- Full Lowdown: Thousands of Bigoted Christian Homophobes Gather for Demo.
- Full Lowdown: US Whistleblower Edward Snowden Seeks Refuge in Free Speech HK