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Speech by Secretary for the Environment at dinner of International Council on Clean Transportation (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Closing Dinner of the fifth meeting of the International Council on Clean Transportation today (November 10):

Dr Lloyd, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to take part in today's closing ceremony of the fifth meeting of the International Council on Clean Transportation.  I would like to congratulate the council for holding this very successful meeting in Hong Kong.  The meeting has brought together government officials and experts from different parts of the world to tackle a common challenge to all cities - how to make our transportation clean.  It provides a very useful forum for cities to learn from each other, to share experience and expertise and to find solutions best suited to them.

     Making transportation clean is a major challenge here.  Hong Kong has the highest road traffic density in the world.  We have about 550,000 vehicles with a total road length of only 2,000km.  On average, there are 275 vehicles per km on the road.  The high road traffic density, together with the high urban density, impedes air pollutant dispersion and traps air pollutants at street level.  In fact, vehicles are the second largest source of air pollution in Hong Kong, contributing to the territory-wide emission of respirable suspended particulates (RSP) by 25%, nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 25% and carbon dioxide by 15%.

Road Transport

     To strive for clean road transportation, our strategy is two-pronged íV building up an efficient public road transport system and reducing vehicle emissions.

Public road transport system

     The public road transport system in Hong Kong, which comprises mainly railways and buses, has helped reduce car trips and hence vehicle emissions.  At present, 90% of the populationíŽs daily travel (i.e. more than 11 million passenger trips per day) is by way of public transport.

     Being the largest public transport carrier in Hong Kong, railways carry 36% of passengers every day (more than 4 million passenger trips every day).  To further reduce reliance on vehicles, we are continuing to press ahead with expansion of our railway network.

     Franchised buses carry 35% of the passenger trips every day (about 3.9 million passenger trips every day).  The Government requires franchised bus companies to take a number of measures to reduce vehicle emissions.  These include deployment of environment friendly buses on busy corridors, installation of emission reduction devices, rationalisation of bus routes and stops and the introduction of bus-bus interchange schemes to reduce bus trips.

Vehicle emissions

     Since 1999, we have implemented a package of measures to curb vehicular emissions -
- financial incentives for diesel taxis to be replaced by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) taxis.  Almost all taxis are now LPG vehicles;
- financial incentives for light buses to switch to LPG or electric models.  About 56% public light buses (PLB) are now LPG vehicles;
- motor vehicle diesel and petrol required by law to comply with Euro IV standards;
- financial incentives for pre-Euro diesel vehicles to retrofit emission reduction devices;
- emission standards for newly registered vehicles progressively tightened in tandem with the European Union, the latest requirement being Euro IV;
- fines for smoky vehicles more than doubled and enforcement stepped up; and
- all pre-Euro diesel vehicles were required to be installed with approved emission reduction devices by April 1, 2007.

     These vehicle emission reduction measures have yielded concrete results. Between 1999 and 2006 íV
- the concentration of RSP at the roadside dropped 13% ;
- the concentration of NOx at the roadside dropped 19% ; and
- the number of smoky vehicles seen was reduced by 80%.

     To help further improve our roadside air quality, we introduced, in April, two additional measures and are working on new measures íV

     The additional measures are íV
- $3.2 billion one-off grant scheme to provide incentives for the early replacement of pre-Euro (within 18 months) and Euro I diesel commercial vehicles (within 36 months), totalling about 74,000 eligible vehicles, with Euro IV models.  The replacement programme will reduce 10% of NOx and 18% of RSP of our total local pollutants;
- 30% reduction in their First Registration Tax, subject to a cap of $50,000 per vehicle, to encourage the use of environment friendly petrol private cars; and

     The new measures that we are working on are íV
- last Friday, we launched a five-month public consultation to ban idling vehicles;
- later this month, we shall move a resolution in our Legislative Council to reduce by half the duty rate on Euro V diesel to advance its availability and encourage its use;
- preparation is under way to make Euro V requirements mandatory for the emissions of newly registered vehicles and motor vehicle fuels in tandem with the European Union;
- we have committed to a duty-free policy for auto biodiesel and will draw up a specification to ensure fuel quality, strengthen usersíŽ confidence and help control its impact on the environment; and
- consultation will be made early next year on a proposal to strengthen the emission control of in-use petrol and LPG vehicles by using roadside remote sensing devices and chassis dynamometers for emission testing.

     I understand that this dinner is also held in memory of our late colleague, Kong HA, for his efforts to improve air quality and mitigate climate change.  The passing of Kong is surely a loss to us, his friends, and colleagues in various organisations dedicated to a better environment.  All of us here, I believe, will continue to work for cleaner, greener and more sustainable transportation with strong determination and commitment.

     Last but not least, may I wish the International Council on Clean Transportation every success in the pursuit of clean transportation and good health to all.

     Thank you.

Ends/Saturday, November 10, 2007
Issued at HKT 19:50


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