The international business community also voiced concern over deteriorating
air quality in 1998 and 1999.
Initiatives taken over the past few years have brought about a noticeable
improvement to local air quality.
Strengthening emission testing and increasing fixed penalties for
smoky vehicles from HK$450 (US$58) to HK$1 000 (US$128).
These initiatives have already yielded significant results. Air
Pollution Index readings exceeding the high level of 100 have been
reduced by 45% since 1999 while respirable particulates at roadside
stations have dropped by 8% and nitrogen oxides dropped by 11%. The
number of smoky vehicles spotted on Hong Kong's roads dropped by half
Upon full implementation total particulate emissions are expected
to drop by 80%, while nitrogen oxide emissions should drop by 30%.
Considerable efforts are also being devoted to improving water quality
and reducing waste through greater recycling and increased public
Hong Kong can not solve long-term environmental issues on its own.
Greater co-operation with neighbouring Guangdong Province is needed
to improve the overall environment, particularly in the prosperous
Pearl River Delta region.
In April 2002, the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Guangdong Provincial
Government agreed on a joint action plan to tackle cross-boundary
pollution. This followed a joint study on the problem of deteriorating
air quality in the Pearl River Delta, which covers an area of 43 000
square kilometers and has a population approaching 50 million.
The study found that air pollution emissions in the region would
continue to increase over the next decade if the two governments continued
to implement existing air quality improvement measures.
In light of these results, the two governments agreed that co-operation
be increased and additional improvement measures be introduced to
deal with the problem of regional air pollution.
Using 1997 as the base year, both governments agreed to reduce,
on a best endeavour basis by 2010, regional emissions of sulphur dioxide
(by 40%), nitrogen oxides (by 20%), respirable suspended particulates
(by 55%) and volatile organic compounds (by 55%).
It was also agreed to draw up a Regional Air Quality Management
Plan and assign responsibility for co-ordinating and monitoring the
progress of the improvement measures. An expert group involving both
sides would be established to jointly monitor trends and changes in
regional air quality and evaluate the effectiveness of the ongoing
and enhanced improvement measures.