Government plans to curb roadside pollution will likely miss 2020 targets, environmental group Clean Air Network (CAN) said in a study on Wednesday.

“The air quality in Hong Kong, especially roadside pollution, remains an untamed challenge for public health in the half year of 2018,” they said.

“Such [a] condition reflects the unsatisfactory performance of Carrie Lam’s administration… in air pollution control policies ranging from end-of-pipe control to alleviating traffic congestion…”

Hong Kong haze comparison
File photo: Wikicommons.

The government announced a Clean Air Plan in 2013 that aimed to reduce roadside pollution by 40 per cent by 2020. Its schemes included an HK$11.4 billion scheme to reduce commercial vehicle emissions by 2019 and a HK$300 million fund to support green public transport.

See also: Little improvement in roadside air quality for the past 20 years, green group says

But the green group said that a more long-term plan was needed for the city to transition to zero emissions vehicles.

A representative of CAN told HKFP on Thursday: “The Clean Air Plan to phase out old diesel vehicles is good, but at the same time this is just the tip of the iceberg – there needs to be a progressive, long-term solution to promote the zero-emission of commercial vehicles.”

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration in Hong Kong, in the first six months of 2016-2018. Photo: Clean Air Network.

The group collected data on air pollution from three roadside points – Mong Kok, Central and Causeway Bay – for the first six months of this year and compared it with that of the previous two years. It registered a reduction in Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), PM2.5 and PM10. But the fall was not enough to meet future targets.

PM2.5 and PM10, or “particulate matter,” are microscopic particles from exhaust pipes that can be inhaled and have an adverse effect on human health.

CAN also said that the current air pollution levels breach the World Health Organisation’s Air Quality Guidelines and said that the projected 2020 NO2 and PM10 levels will surpass the guidelines by 77 per cent and 59 per cent respectively.

In response, the Environmental Protection Department told HKFP: “Although the level of nitrogen dioxide at the roadside has declined in recent years, it is still at a high level. With the retirement of more [diesel] commercial vehicles, we believe that roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution will continue to improve.”

jennifer creery

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.