Hong Kong is set to introduce a new clean-air measure that will ban high-polluting vehicles and offer subsidies to help owners replace diesel-powered buses and trucks. Among the banned vehicles will be some of the 121,300 commercial diesel vehicles that form a substantial source of smog in the city. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will announce the new measures in January and a reduction in emissions is expected to be seen as early as 2014.
Smog-filled skies and choking exhaust fumes have turned Hong Kong into the world’s most polluted financial center. For 15 years clean-air measures have failed to limit smog that causes nearly 3,000 premature deaths every year. According to official figures, the city faced 175 days of high pollution this year, more than twice the number of days in 2007.
According to the World Health Organization, vehicle exhausts and power stations are linked to 9 percent of lung cancer death globally. Hong Kong’s average roadside levels of nitrogen dioxide were more than triple WHO limits. The government plans to lower emissions from taxis and public transportation by forcing aging buses and trucks off Hong Kong’s streets. The new “carrot and stick” approach will be introduced next month.
It is hoped that the city will adopt the Euro V standard which will encourage the removal of Euro II models from Hong Kong’s streets—of the 121,300 commercial diesel vehicles in Hong Kong as of October 30, more than 40 percent were Euro II models or lower, according to the Environmental Protection Department.