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Public consultation on Air Quality Objectives Review launched (with photos)

     The Government today (July 23) launched a four-month public consultation on the Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) review.

     ˇ§Air is a very important environmental resource and we must strive to ensure that our air quality can adequately protect public health,ˇ¨ Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, said.

     ˇ§The current Air Quality Objectives of Hong Kong have been in place since 1987.  They need to be updated.  In October 2006, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a new set of Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs).  We therefore propose to make reference to the WHO Air Quality Guidelines to update our Air Quality Objectives to enhance the protection of public health and further improve air quality.  In this regard, the Chief Executive announced in his 2008-09 Policy Address that Hong Kong would adopt targets in stages giving due regard to the WHO guidelines,ˇ¨ Mr Yau said.

     "In setting the new Air Quality Objectives, the underlying principle is to protect public health.  Achieving the WHO Air Quality Guidelines will be taken as a long-term goal and we will adopt targets in stages to update the Air Quality Objectives,ˇ¨ he said.

     In mid-2007, the Government commissioned a consultancy study to review the Air Quality Objectives for setting new standards for ambient air pollutant levels that could better protect public health.  The review has now been completed.  The proposed new Air Quality Objectives are as follows ˇV

(i) Adopting the concentration targets set out under WHO Air Quality Guidelines for sulphur dioxide (10-minute), nitrogen dioxide (1-hour and annual); carbon monoxide (1-hour and 8-hour) and lead (annual);

(ii) Adopting the concentration targets set out under WHO Interim Target IT 2 for respirable suspended particulates (PM 10) (24-hour and annual); and

(iii) Adopting the concentration targets set out under WHO IT1 for sulphur dioxide ( 24-hour) and fine suspended particulates (PM 2.5) (24-hour and annual), and the IT for ozone (8-hour).

     To help achieve the proposed new Air Quality Objectives, the review recommends the following emission control measures-

Emission Capping and Control

1. Increasing the ratio of natural gas in local electricity generation to 50% together with additional emission abatement measures
2. Early retirement of aged/heavily polluting vehicles
3. Earlier replacement of Euro III commercial diesel vehicles with models meeting latest Euro standards
4. Wider use of hybrid/electric vehicles or other environment-friendly vehicles with similar performance
5. Ultra low sulphur diesel for local vessels
6. Selective catalytic reduction for local vessels
7. Electrification of aviation ground support equipment
8. Emission control for off-road vehicles/equipment
9. Strengthening volatile organic compounds control

Transport Management
10. Low emission zones
11. Car-free zones/pedestrianisation scheme
12. Bus route rationalisation

Infrastructure Development and Planning
13. Expand rail network
14. Cycling network to major public transport hubs

Energy Efficiency Measures
15. Mandatory implementation of Building Energy Codes
16. Energy efficiency standards for domestic electrical appliances
17. Light-emitting diode or equivalent alternatives for traffic signal / street lighting
18. Tree planting/roof-top greening
19. District cooling system for Kai Tak Development

     Upon the implementation of these control measures, it is expected that about 4,200 hospital admissions attributable to air pollution would be avoided per year in Hong Kong and the average life expectancy of the population would be increased by about one month.  The economic benefits to society (mainly due to improvement of public health and savings in energy costs) are estimated to be about $1.228 billion per year, which are substantially higher than the estimated economic costs of $596 million.

     ˇ§We fully appreciate the communityˇ¦s desire to improve our air quality as soon as possible.  The proposed measures, however, will have different degrees of impact on the general public.  For example, electricity tariffs and bus fares may increase.  Our way of living may also need adjustment.  We therefore have to seek the views of the public on the package of measures for reducing emissions, the price the community is willing to pay and the pace at which the control measures should be taken forward such that the community can work together for attaining the new Air Quality Objectives,ˇ¨ Mr Yau said.

     ˇ§The consultation period will end at the end of November.  To help Hong Kong set a new benchmark for clean air, I urge people to come forward and offer their views on the proposals,ˇ¨ he said.

     People can collect the consultation documents from District Offices, Regional Offices of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and Public Libraries.  The consultation documents have also been uploaded to EPD's website: (

     People can forward their views and comments by November 30 to the EPD by post (address: 33/F, Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong), by fax (2838 2155) or via email (

Ends/Thursday, July 23, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:01


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