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Friends of the Earth (HK) Collaborates with Transport Industry, Calls for “
Carrot and Stick” to phase out polluting diesel vehicles

 

 

(Jan 6, 2013 - Press Release) Friends of the Earth (HK) urged the government to adopt a carrot-and-stick approach, where they would provide an incentive on par with controls and regulations on the old diesel vehicle replacement Scheme before the issue is brought up in the Policy Address next week.

 

Friends of the Earth (HK) today cooperated with the Diesel Vehicle Transport industry, the Democratic Party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, as well as other parties, to call on the government to resolve the problem of roadside air pollution, and by doing so, to ensure better public health. We also called on the government to reach a consensus as soon as possible with the industry practitioners to phase out pre-Euro I, II, and III diesel vehicles, by balancing the use of public funds with the social benefits.

 

Friends of the Earth (HK) stated that diesel vehicles are the main source of roadside air pollutants. Donald Tsang's Government provided “carrots” by implementing two incentive schemes that were for the replacing of old diesel commercial vehicles. However the rates were just 29% or 11% respectively. Furthermore, the Audit Commission published a report about a month ago in which the Environmental Department was criticized for failing to exercise checks on these vehicles as well as not providing effective measures to reduce  the number of them.  Friends of the Earth (HK) Senior Environmental Affairs Officer, Melonie Chau advises that the government should review the two previous incentive schemes and suggests that it applies other flexible “incentives” like “auto scrapping subsidies”, “low interest loans”, etc.

 

Melonie Chau, however, further emphasized that the “carrot” approach alone would not be sufficiently effective to eliminate the old diesel vehicles; she also called on CY Leung’s government to include appropriate “stick” measures to enforce compulsory measurements and penalties to bring about effectual results, such as:

 

  • Formulating a clear timetable to phase out pre-Euro I, II, and III diesel vehicles;

 

  • Setting a deadline for the subsidizing of old diesel vehicles: the older the vehicle is, the less time it shall be given. A method like this could speed up the replacement rate;

 

  • To consider the declining trend of the industry and provide a subsidy for scrapping vehicles, and assist those owners who have no intention of replacing their old cars;

 

  • And lastly, adopt a progressive policy that will look to prevent and tackle roadside pollution like a low emissions zone, which will reduce the chance that the old vehicles will threaten the public’s health through their emitting of pollutants.

 

Friends of the Earth (HK) pointed out that the roadside air pollution that is caused by the old diesel vehicles is severe. The number of Respiratory Suspended Particulates from pre-Euro vehicles is about 34 times that of a Euro V vehicle. Polluted air from diesel vehicles is a proven carcinogen by the World Health Organization but there are still about 15,000 pre-Euro diesel trucks that have been running in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. The medical cost that has resulted from the air pollution accounts for billions of Hong Kong Dollars, not to mention the number of deaths that have been caused by it. The whole society should bear the responsibility hand in hand when facing this social issue. Additionally, the livelihood of the diesel vehicle owners and the industry practitioners should not be neglected. Today, they are willing to stand on the side of environmental concerns and for the interests of the public’s health, and so they have put forward some considerations:

 

  • Accept the need to eliminate the old diesel vehicles, however the subsidy should increase to being 30% of the value of the car 

 

  • Auto scrapping and the purchasing of a new car should not come as a package; a separate auto scrapping subsidy should be set up

 

  • Do not set a time limit for the purchasing of a new car in order to avoid an imbalance of supply and demand

 

Friends of the Earth (HK) maintain an open attitude about these suggestions from the industry practitioners, and urge the government to propose viable solutions to tackle the roadside air pollution that is caused by the old diesel vehicles in a timely manner.

 


Media Inquiry:Senior Environmental Affairs Officer Melonie Chau 2528 5588

 

 

 

 



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