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Reject the polluted air from the cruises; develop a green pier in Kai Tak

 

(20 January, 2013, Press release) The new government admitted for the first time in its maiden policy address that shipping pollution has become Hong Kong’s largest source of pollution since early 2011, and that it has exceeded the amount of pollution that comes from the power plants when in terms of levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and suspended particles.

 

Friends of the Earth (HK) pointed out that the Kai Tak cruise terminal will open in June this year, when it is expected that the polluted air emissions will exceed the current standard, but that if the updated air quality objectives are taken into account, the sulfur dioxide levels will substantially exceed it by 12 times. However, there is no timetable for implementing the proposed shore power facilities. A forum was hosted at the Kwun Tong promenade opposite where the Kai Tak cruise terminal is located, and invited the Legislative and District Councilors and local organizations to attend. Ms. Christine Loh, the Undersecretary for the Environment was also invited to the Forum.

 

In the Forum, the local representatives and Legislative Councilors unanimously pointed out that the opening of the cruise terminal will certainly lead to the deterioration of air quality in the district, and that it would threaten the health of the 280,000 residents. They unanimously urged the Government to expeditiously implement shore power facilities and to quicken the steps in legislation to force the vessels to switch to the fuel that is lower in sulfur content when berthing, as well to have close cooperation and coordination with the various relevant bureaus to resolve the issue.

 

Ms. Christine Loh referred to when the Legislative Council submitted a proposal for financial approval in order to install shore power facilities, and that they then had to tender that construction. It is estimated that the official opening will take some years. As for the timing of legislation, the government will also seek the views of the industry as soon as possible, and that it intends to introduce a Bill for the Legislative Council to approve at end of this year. However, before the implementation of the law, the vessels could not be forced to switch their fuel. The Undersecretary calls on the society to promote the voluntary charter of the shipping industry.

 

The forum today effectively enhanced the awareness of the seriousness of the ships’ emissions as well as how to deal with it holistically in the same ways throughout the levels of our society, district and legislative councils, and the government. However, Friends of the Earth (HK) believes that the government's response lacks commitment, for the Kai Tak cruise terminal has been planned for many years yet the Government has not provided a clear account of its impact on the air, and it has not established corresponding relief and mitigation measures. Only today it was revealed that the shore power facilities will require some years to be completed. Even though in the longer term there will be legislation, in the short to medium term, the residents will still have to bear the brunt of the poor air. In view of the results of the voluntary scheme of switching fuel, the participation in that has only been at 14%, so how we could we ensure the public’s health?

 

Friends of the Earth (HK) calls on the tourism authorities to establish a "green pier in Kai Tak,” to demand that the cruise companies fulfill their social responsibility by switching to the fuel that is lower in sulfur content, to deploy their fleet that has shore power facilities to Hong Kong, and to comply with our green brand. The Tourism authorities cannot sacrifice the health of residents for the sake of commercial activities. At the same time, we must formulate medium-term measures in order to alleviate the air pollution that is caused by the operations of the Kai Tak terminal.


Media Enquiries:

Melonie Chau, Senior Environmental Affairs Officer, tel: 25285588

 

 

 

 

環境局副局長陸恭惠

Christine Loh, Undersecretary of Environment



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