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Boomtown to gloomtown The implications of inaction September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Contents Christine Loh

Foreword by Tim Flannery ................................................................ 3

cloh@civic-exchange.org

James Paterson james.paterson@clsa.com (852) 26008389

Introduction by Rob Morrison ..........................................................11 The air that we breathe ...................................................................16

Assisted by

Simon Ng kwsng@civic-exchange.org

P Anson Lau info@civic-exchange.org

Wubin Lu wubin.lu@clsa.com (852) 26008631

The cost of air pollution ...................................................................28 Challenge for world cities ................................................................41 Cleaning up Hong Kong....................................................................52

CLSA environmental research

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cloh@civic-exchange.org

September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Foreword

Foreword by Tim Flannery It has been the consideration of our wonderful atmosphere in its various relations to human life, and to all life, which has compelled me to this cry for the children and for outraged humanity . . . Let everything give way to this . . . Vote for no one who says ‘it can’t be done’. Vote only for those who declare ‘It shall be done’. Alfred Russel Wallace, Man’s Place in the Universe, 1903 Good, clean air is indispensable to human health and wellbeing, yet the air many of us breathe is becoming increasingly polluted. Our planet now supports 6.5 billion people, around half of whom live in East and South Asia. So it is not surprising that air pollution is becoming a particularly acute problem for Hong Kong. Part of the problem results from rapid population and economic growth, which has transformed much of coastal East Asia. It is easy to forget how swift that change has been: just 150 years ago, tigers were eating a person a week on the island of Singapore. Today, cities tower where pristine forests once cleansed the air, and industrial processes use the atmosphere as a sewer for diverse and novel chemical and particulate waste, the interactions of which with the atmosphere and the human body are not yet fully understood. Lamentably, the citizens of Hong Kong must take into their lungs air loaded with carbon particles, ozone and sulphuric acid, to name just a few of the principal and better understood pollutants. The air they breathe is among the most contaminated on Earth, and some of the pollution inevitably ends up permanently lodged in their lungs. Lungs are where our bloodstream meets the atmosphere, so pollutants that reach the tiny sacs deep in our lungs can affect our entire bodies. A baby’s lungs are pink, and in a clean atmosphere they stay that way. But polluted air soon fills lungs with tiny carbon particles, which stain them grey or black. The smallest of these particles can become the irremovable seeds of cancers, heart attacks and myriad other ailments. Medical science has, as yet, been unable to establish a safe lower limit of exposure for these dangerous pollutants. The atmosphere is all that stands between us and the vastness of space

Despite our utter dependence - from our first breath to our last - upon the atmosphere, we largely take it for granted. The “atmosphere” is a dull name for a wondrous thing. Alfred Russel Wallace, cofounder with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution, coined a better name. He called it “The Great Aerial Ocean”, and when we think of the atmosphere as an ocean we become aware of the currents, eddies and layers that create the weather far above our heads, and which is all that stands between us and the vastness of space. Humans have generated an astonishing diversity of air pollution, both visible and invisible. Some is highly dangerous to human health, while other kinds alter the way the Great Aerial Ocean works, and so represents a danger to the entire planet. To understand these threats we need to learn a little about our atmosphere and how it organises itself. From the perspective of pollution, one of the most important things to know about the atmosphere is that it is smaller than it looks. To gain an understanding of its real size (its mass) we need to compare the Great Aerial Ocean with the oceans themselves, and in order to do that we must imagine compressing the atmosphere until it

September 2006

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Foreword

Hong Kong pollution

becomes a liquid. Air is around 1,000 times less dense than water, so it will compress quite a bit. In terms of mass, the Great Aerial Ocean is 500 times smaller than the world’s oceans. Acid rain was the first real crisis for our Great Aerial Ocean

The small size of the atmosphere relative to the oceans explains why, although we dump a great deal of pollution into the oceans and have severely degraded partially enclosed bays and gulfs in the process, we have not yet triggered a global oceanic pollution crisis. Our atmosphere, in contrast, has undergone several global or near global crises in recent decades. The first of these manifested itself as acid rain. It occurred in the 1970s when a large increase in the burning of sulphur-rich coal in Europe and North America led to enormous amounts of sulphur dioxide being released into the atmosphere over the Northern Hemisphere.

Sulphur dioxide readings warn of Hong Kong’s rising air pollution burden

Sulphur dioxide lasts only hours in the atmosphere, and because its generation was concentrated, it did not travel far enough to cause a truly global pollution crisis. It did, however, affect vast expanses of the Northern Hemisphere. But when rain falls through air loaded with sulphur dioxide, sulphuric acid is created, often at very high concentrations. Thus is formed the acid rain that kills forests, sterilises lakes and depletes soils. Of course, breathing in an aerosol of sulphuric acid is not good for human health either, so the high and rising readings of sulphur dioxide in Hong Kong’s air must be seen as a strong warning of the city’s growing air pollution burden. Once the acid-rain problem was understood, the European and North American countries encouraged power stations to switch to less sulphur-rich coals, and they mandated the use of “scrubbers” on power station smokestacks to eliminate the sulphur dioxide at source. As a result, forests, lakes and soils were gradually restored to health, though even today lingering impacts on soil and forest structure remain.

Without the ozone layer, life on Earth would be very different

No sooner had the acid-rain crisis been addressed than another air pollution problem emerged, and this one was truly global in scope and potentially very dangerous. In 1958 scientists began measuring ozone in the stratosphere over the South Pole, and by the 1970s they noted the ozone concentration was declining rapidly. So drastic was the decline that they initially thought their instruments must have been faulty. The decline was real, however, and it caused alarm, because without the protection from ultraviolet radiation that stratospheric ozone provides, much life could not exist on Earth.

Antarctic ozone hole

Ozone is a sky-blue gas formed from three oxygen atoms. It is created in the stratosphere by the sun’s radiation, and at ground level by human activity. Despite its importance to life, ozone is rare in the atmosphere, comprising just 10 molecules in every million, and it is concentrated in a zone around 80 kilometres above our heads. If all stratospheric ozone was brought to ground level, it would form a layer just a few millimetres thick. Being rare, and also relatively short-lived, it is vulnerable to disruption by human-caused pollution. Stratospheric and ground-level ozone have very different impacts on human health. At ground level, ozone plays a role in the formation of highly dangerous smog, and so is monitored as a pollutant. Yet without the ozone 80 kilometres above our heads the solar radiation that can give us sunburn would increase enormously. This radiation can penetrate deep into or bodies, where it can damage delicate tissues as well as our DNA. Without stratospheric ozone, our crops and oceans would also quickly decline, and

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September 2006


Foreword

Hong Kong pollution

humans would begin suffering epidemics of cancers, other diseases and blindness. Researchers estimate that humans - and anything else with eyes will experience a 0.5 percent increase in cataracts for every 1 percent decrease in ozone concentration. Skin cancer, and other cancer rates would also soar and, because ultraviolet radiation can damage the immune system, we would see a general ailing in the stricken communities. Manmade CFCs and HFCs punched a very large hole in the ozone layer . . .

It took a great deal of scientific research, and some good luck, to discover what was destroying the ozone layer. The culprits, it turned out, were chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which do not exist in nature but which are manufactured for specialised purposes such as making styrofoam, as propellants in spray cans and in refrigeration. By the time their harmful side-effects were discovered, a very large hole in the ozone layer had formed seasonally over the Antarctic, along with a smaller one over the Arctic. At 53°S, Punta Arenas in Chile is the southernmost town on Earth. Since 1994, skin-cancer rates there have soared by 66 percent. Even at lower latitudes - and closer to the great centres of human population - shifts in cancer rates are evident. In America, for example, the chance of getting melanoma was one in 250 just 25 years ago. Today it is one in 84.

. . . before the Montreal Protocol limited their production

It took an international treaty, known as the Montreal Protocol, to limit the production of CFCs and HFCs. It was signed in 1987, before all of the science required to unequivocally link the banned chemicals to disappearing ozone had been completed. Today we know just how much was riding on its successful passage. Had the Montreal Protocol not been enacted, by 2050 the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (where most humans live) would have lost half of their UV protection, while equivalent latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere would have lost 70 percent. As it was, by 2001, the Protocol had limited real damage to around a tenth of that. Today, 20 years after developed economies banned CFCs and HFCs (though China can continue production until 2010), there are signs that the ozone layer is restoring itself.

Greenhouse gases leading to global warming and climate change

Now humanity faces a third and, many argue, more dire global air pollution crisis than even that threatened by the destruction of the ozone layer. This one is caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is leading to global warming and climate change. Greenhouse gases trap heat close to the planet’s surface, and there are around 30 kinds in the atmosphere. The most significant, in terms of air pollution, are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. Around 80% of the warming that the Earth has experienced thus far is due to CO2 pollution. Although CO2 occurs naturally in the atmosphere and plays a critical role in maintaining the balance necessary to all life, the extra CO2 that is warming the Earth comes from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, and the destruction of forests.

CO2 a major problem

Although CO2 is scarce in the atmosphere (around four parts per 10,000), and weak in its capacity to capture heat, it is long-lived: around 56 percent of all the CO2 that humans have liberated since the beginning of the 20th Century is still contributing to global warming. Continued on page 7

September 2006

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Hong Kong pollution

Foreword

Climate and air quality in Hong Kong More focus required on carbon-dioxide emissions

Hong Kong’s political and business leaders hardly discuss climate change although there are signs of attention from the research and academic sectors. Attention to air quality may be regarded as a proxy for climate especially if real effort can be made on improving energy efficiency. Hong Kong should focus on CO2 emissions from buildings and not just vehicles and power plants to make greater strides.

What is Hong Kong’s CO2 contribution?

In 2004, per-capita carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent was 6.4 tonnes. That was lower than the early 1990s when it reached 8 tonnes per capita. CO2 is by far the most prevalent greenhouse gas in Hong Kong in terms of emissions weight and potential climatic impact. In 2004, this gas accounted for more than 99% of greenhouse gas emissions by weight, and in excess of 85% of global-warming potential in Hong Kong. Methane (CH4) came second and accounted for more than 11% of the warming potential. Other greenhouse gases commonly found in Hong Kong are nitrous oxides (NOx), hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Carbon dioxide is by far the most prevalent greenhouse gas in HK

Greenhouse gases in HK (Global warming potential weighted) (Gigagram of CO2-equivalent)

45,000

CO2 in tonnes per capita (RHS) CO2

10

CO2 CO2 CH4 CH4

40,000 35,000

9 8 7

30,000

6

25,000

5

20,000

4

15,000

3

10,000

2

5,000

1

0

0 1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

Source: HKEPD

Electricity generation the major pollutant

Greenhouse gases by source in HK (Global warming potential weighted) 35,000

(Gigagram of CO2-equivalent)

30,000 25,000 20,000

Energy industries

Transport

15,000

Waste

Other energy sector

10,000

Industrial process

Agriculture (negligible)

5,000 0 1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

Source: HKEPD

Imported nuclear power, natural-gas-fired plants cut GHGs from 1993-97

6

Energy industries in the above chart refers mainly to electricity generation. The drop in greenhouse gas emissions in this sector between 1993 and 1997 was due to imported nuclear power and the use of natural-gas-fired plants for power generation.

cloh@civic-exchange.org

September 2006


Foreword

Hong Kong pollution

It is our servants - the billions of engines that we have built to run on fossil fuels such as coal, petrol and oil-based fuels and gas - that play the leading role in manufacturing CO2. Most dangerous of all are the power plants that use coal to generate electricity. Black coal (anthracite) comprises at least 92 percent carbon, while dry brown coal is around 70 percent carbon and 5 percent hydrogen. Because the carbon atoms in coal combine with two heavier oxygen atoms when coal is burned, a greater weight of CO2 is generated than the weight of coal fed into the furnace: for every tonne of anthracite burned, around three and a half tonnes of CO2 are created. Methane follows carbon dioxide as the most important greenhouse gas

After CO2, methane is the next most important greenhouse gas. Methane is created by microbes that thrive in oxygen-less environments such as stagnant pools and bowels, and it is the principal component of natural gas. It comprises just 1.5 parts per million of the atmosphere, but its concentration has doubled over the past few hundred years. Methane is 60 times more potent at capturing heat energy than CO2, but thankfully lasts fewer years in the atmosphere. It is estimated that methane will cause 15 to 17 percent of all global warming experienced this century. Atmospheric methane comes from many sources, including leaks in the natural-gas distribution network, and from wet soils such as paddy rice fields.

A third of our global NOx emissions come from burning fossil fuels

Nitrous oxide, better known to most as laughing gas, is 270 times more efficient at trapping heat than CO2. It is far rarer than methane but it lasts 150 years in the atmosphere. Around a third of our global emissions come from burning fossil fuels, and the rest from burning plant matter and the use of nitrogen-containing fertilisers. While there are natural sources of nitrous oxide, human-related emissions now greatly exceed them in volume. Today, there is 20 percent more nitrous oxide in the atmosphere than there was at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (1800). We have already met the rarest of all greenhouse gases: the HFC and CFC families of chemicals. Some, such as the tongue-twisting dichlorotrifluoroethane, which was once used in refrigeration, are 10,000 times more potent at capturing heat energy than CO2, and they can last for many centuries in the atmosphere. Because they are now almost completely banned their influence will decline. In 2002, the burning of fossil fuels released 21 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Of this, coal contributed 41 percent, oil 39 percent and gas 20 percent. Hong Kong is not a particularly large contributor to this pollution stream, its citizens averaging 6.4 tonnes per capita. China’s emissions overall, however, are growing rapidly. Global warming is a major threat to our planet’s stability. If the ice around the North and South Poles were to melt, sea level would rise 70 vertical metres. About the height of a 23-storey building, most of the world’s cities and much of its best agricultural land would be submerged. Such a threat may seem distant or unrealistic, but the average global temperature of our planet has increased by around one degree Celsius over the 20th Century and is anticipated to rise by a further three degrees if nothing is done. Already, a considerable chunk of polar ice is melting. The Arctic Ice Cap shrank by 300,000 square kilometres in 2005 and signs of instability have been detected in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which contains enough ice to raise global sea level by six metres. See our October 2005 CLSA U Blue Book, Carbon management: Strategic implications of climate change for more.

September 2006

Tim.Flannery@textpublishing.com.au

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Foreword

East China, 2004 on a bad day

Hong Kong pollution

The world’s greatest authority on climate change is arguably Dr James Hansen, Director of the Goddard Institute of Nasa. He recently warned that humanity has only a few years left to avoid a melting of the ice that will trigger a 25-metre rise in the sea level, and that oceans may rise at the rate of half a metre per decade. While no-one can predict when this will commence, sea levels are already rising twice as fast (3mm per year) as they were a few decades ago. As the atmosphere warms, storms become more intense. Over the 35 years from 1970, the total energy expended by typhoons, hurricanes, cyclones and tropical storms has increased by 60%. This has led to longer typhoon seasons, longer-lasting typhoons and a marked increase in the number of very powerful typhoons. This has occurred in response to a fraction of a degree increase in Earth’s average temperature over this time, so researchers are anticipating large impacts in the future.

. . . and on a good day

Global rainfall patterns are also changing as a result of greenhouse gas pollution, with sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and the western United States all recording sharp deficits. Heatwaves are also on the increase, with a particularly severe one killing around 36,000 people in western Europe in 2003. When combined with biodiversity loss, a greater incidence of tropical diseases and acidification of the oceans (CO2 turns into carbolic acid as it enters seawater), scientists are concerned about profound challenges to economic and social stability.

Global rainfall patterns are changing; heatwaves are on the increase

There is also the chance of triggering catastrophic change. Computer models project: warming that could cause changes in ocean currents that may freeze Europe; the destruction of the Amazon rainforests; and huge releases of methane that may permanently alter the Earth’s climate. While the chances of any of these events occurring in the 21st Century may be small (around 5% for changing ocean currents, for example), the impacts would be so severe that they must be taken seriously. The principal sources of greenhouse gas pollution are electricity generation and transport. As China struggles to meet demand for electricity, it will inevitably burn more coal. If it concentrates too heavily on this form of power generation, it could well destabilise the Earth’s climate. Gas, nuclear, wind and photovoltaics (solar cells that directly convert sunlight into electricity) are just a few of the alternative means of generating electricity. Increasing efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and use will all become vital tools in the battle to combat climate change.

Electricity generation and transport are key sources of greenhouse gases

8

Transport - by road, ship and air - are all increasingly significant sources of greenhouse gases. As demonstrated by the development of hybrid technologies, great efficiency gains can be made at a modest cost in the road-transport sector. Shipping and air travel, however, represent more serious problems. One of the foulest pollutants on Earth is the fuel oil that powers shipping. It is effectively the leftovers of other oil-based fuels, and is so thick and full of contaminants that it must be heated before it will even flow through a ship’s pipes. Satellite surveillance reveals that many of the world’s shipping lanes are blanketed in semi-permanent clouds that result from the particulate emissions from ships’ smokestacks. Yet solving this problem in the longer term is potentially easy: after all, until little more than a century ago, maritime transport was wind powered. Using modern wind and solar technologies and energy-efficient engines, sea cargo may, by the middle

Tim.Flannery@textpublishing.com.au

September 2006


Foreword

SE China in 1999 . . .

. . . and in 2004

Hong Kong pollution

of this century, once again be travelling carbon-free. In the meantime, ports could be made cleaner by using gas-burning tugs, and restricting engine operating times of ships in and near ports. Air travel requires large amounts of high-density fuel of a type that, at present, only fossil fuels can provide. In 1992 air travel was already the source of 2 percent of CO2 emissions. And in the US, where air traffic already accounts for 10 percent of fuel use, the number of passengers transported is set to double between 1997 and 2017, making air transport the fastestgrowing source of CO2 and nitrous oxide emissions in the country. Recently, the European Union introduced a carbon tax on all flights originating from and arriving in member states. It is hoped that this will encourage videoconferencing in place of business travel, as well as some switching to rail and other ground transportation, which is less polluting. Human attempts to develop a coordinated approach to combating climate change have thus far met with indifferent success. Most nations are signatories to the Kyoto protocol, but Australia, the United States (both significant polluters), Monaco and Lichtenstein remain outside it. During Kyoto’s first phase (to 2012), the intention is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 5% of the 1990 level. This is around 7% of the cuts required to stabilise the global climate, so future phases of the treaty are likely to mandate larger cuts. But even this modest target is proving difficult to achieve.

Hong Kong must act now to address local and global air pollution issues

Hong Kong is in a unique position to address both local and global air pollution problems. Direct economic and social impacts of local air pollution should act as a strong incentive to clean up Hong Kong’s atmosphere, while the city’s leading position in southern China could be used to encourage a decisive shift to technologies that limit greenhouse gas emissions across mainland China. Because the impacts of air pollution are so long-lived, much hangs upon decisions made by Hong Kong’s leaders today. If matters are left to drift, in the hope that some future administration will deal with the issue, Hong Kong’s very existence may be imperilled.

Tim Flannery September 2006

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Pollution hits the headlines Public awareness on the rise

Headlines from South China Morning Post, The Standard and The Wall Street Journal, 28 August - 4 September 2006


Introduction

Rob Morrison Chief Executive Officer rob.morrison@clsa.com (852) 26008888

Hong Kong pollution

Introduction It would be pointless to apply stricter air quality standards that no one can satisfy. The public should be more practical. It will be laughable if air quality standards are set too high to reach. Dr Sarah Liao Secretary, HK Environment, Transport and Works Bureau 15 May 2005 We have found that in reaching for what appears to be the impossible, we often actually do the impossible. Jack Welch Former Chairman and CEO, GE Corporation

Hong Kong is one of the most polluted cities in the world

The people of Hong Kong breathe some of the most polluted air on the planet. Its health-damaging particulate levels are worse than those in Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles and more than 200% higher than the latest WHO guidelines. And while the Government of the HKSAR has tackled the causes of air pollution in certain areas, particularly road transport, it is difficult not to conclude that its environmental policy is governed by a mindset of what cannot be done, as opposed to what can be done, as Dr Sarah Liao’s remarks suggest. What it should do, is take a leaf out of GE’s book and start striving to achieve the impossible. With a strong 20-year commitment to the city, we commissioned this report which complements our recent research on renewable energy - to highlight the serious issue of environmental pollution in Hong Kong. In September 2005 we hosted more than 1,000 global investors at our 12th annual Investors’ Forum. Showcasing one of its most important financial events of the year, Hong Kong was typically resplendent, greeting delegates with Air Pollution Index levels in excess of 140. One year on, as we prepare to host our 13th Investors’ Forum, we see little sign of progress.

There is no time to procrastinate we must act now

In February 2006 at the CLSA Japan Forum, former US Vice President Al Gore, in many respects the flag bearer for the US environmental movement, delivered a warning on the risks the world faces from global warning. And at the CLSA China Forum in May, Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers and the foreword of this report, reinforced this message and the urgent need for the world to act. Both emphasised the fact that there is no time for procrastination: if we do not act now it will probably be too late. In stark contrast to this call for action from the environmental lobby and governments and businesses globally, is the apparent lack of urgency from policymakers in Hong Kong. It is clear that the government understands the nature of the problem and that it must do more to achieve change. But the central issue is how quickly is it prepared to implement change. Responding to public pressure, in July 2006 the government stated that resolving Hong Kong’s pollution problem would be a priority. However, its priority measure was simply to announce that it would commission an 18month study of air quality objectives (AQOs) which would not begin until 2007, meaning the earliest the Hong Kong public might see new AQO targets would be 2009.

September 2006

rob.morrison@clsa.com

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Introduction

If the government will not lead, the business community must step up

Hong Kong pollution

Although more decisive action is required from the government, the business community must also be prepared to take responsibility. For businesses to act there normally needs to be an economic imperative. The Sars epidemic was a clear example of how, in a broad sense, the environment can impact economic conditions and, to some extent, it is surprising that Sars was not a bigger wakeup call. Contributing factors to the rapid onset of Sars were substandard housing and hygiene standards, brought about by a focus on short-term economic gain at the expense of long-term planning and investment in improving housing standards, maintenance and hygiene conditions. This pursuit of the short-term dollar contributed to the drastic economic consequences for everyone in Hong Kong. For businesses, facing up to the impact of polluting the environment represents two major conflicts: economically, between short-term profit and long-term economic wellbeing; and socially, between earnings now and the condition in which we will leave the environment for future generations. Even ignoring the social benefits, the positive aspects of going “green” make sense economically. However, the negative aspects of ignoring the threat of pollution could be more damaging for Hong Kong in the long term than the impact of Sars. The government estimates (using air quality data from 2000) the economic cost of environmental pollution at HK$1.7 billion per year. Estimates in this report, using later data, suggest the gains from an improvement in air quality could be HK$20 billion per annum.

Worsening air quality is deterring foreign investment and the inflow of overseas talent

What’s more, a recent poll by the American Chamber of Commerce suggests Hong Kong’s worsening air quality is deterring foreign investment and the inflow of overseas talent. Immigration Department statistics show that expatriate numbers fell sharply last year, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that environmental issues are a key factor. In the finance industry, there is no question that Singapore has been a net beneficiary of the fallout from Hong Kong’s environmental issues. The economic cost and threats to Hong Kong’s standing as a regional financial services centre are a major issue. But the solution lies in Hong Kong’s hands. Local Chambers of Commerce have urged the government to make the environment its number-one priority and many local businesses have signed up to the Clean Air Charter and are looking to voluntarily reduce their environmental impact. But it is clear that much more can be done, and what can be done should be done more quickly. The government blames cross-border pollution for many of the city’s problems, with Dr Sarah Liao citing ‘blistering development in the Peal River Delta’ as the major cause of our foul air. On a purely geographical basis for the origin of the pollution, that view is probably correct, but what about the economic origin of that pollution? Who owns the polluters? While it is difficult for the Government of the HKSAR to influence the geographical origin of pollution from mainland China (the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Plan is a useful first step), given that an estimated 90,000 factories over the border are owned by Hong Kong interests, the government and the business community can clearly instigate significant change from within Hong Kong itself.

Legislated targets and full transparency required

12

Two key inputs from the government would help: updated and legislated targets for air standards in Hong Kong; and full transparency on the extent of the problem. As it stands, the government’s support for the Clean Air Charter

rob.morrison@clsa.com

September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Introduction

is at odds with its own refusal to publish accurate data. Demanding action from the community at large to help resolve a problem won’t work if you keep the community in the dark about the depth of the problem. Hong Kong’s outdated AQOs understate the seriousness of its air pollution. A simple analogy is that you can’t catch bees with a butterfly net. While the city’s air pollution measurements capture large particulates in the air they omit the smaller (and potentially more harmful) particulates. Furthermore, Hong Kong’s air pollution index (API) uses outdated AQOs, thus generating lower readings than, for example, the EU would from the same data. The same pollution measures that give moderate or high API readings in Hong Kong would generate very high and severe readings elsewhere. Hong Kong fails to meet even its own lax air pollution standards

Although Hong Kong’s daily API levels already make for alarming reading they do not tell the full story. Not only does the city fail to meet its own standards but to make matter worse, those standards are set artificially low. As Al Gore states in his book, An Inconvenient Truth, ‘inconvenient truths do not go away just because they are not seen!’ While this report focuses on Hong Kong’s air pollution problems, they are part of the bigger global issue that Tim Flannery highlights in his foreword. The buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing rising temperatures and climate change on a global basis. The principle sources of greenhouse gas pollution are electricity generation (fossil-fuel burning plants) and transport (road, air and sea), and Hong Kong contributes in each category.

If temperatures continue to rise the polar ice caps will continue to shrink

Although there are many facets to what constitutes “global warming” and many different consequences, one thing seems certain: if temperatures continue to rise the polar ice caps will continue to shrink. If half of Antarctica and half of Greenland were to melt - and there is now a large body of scientific evidence which says that without a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions this is a “when” not an “if” scenario (with many of the opinion that this event will happen in our life time) - then sea levels would increase by about six metres, or 20 feet. By way of example, in 2005 alone the Arctic Ice Cap contracted by 300,000 square kilometres, or an area approximately 300 times the size of Hong Kong. Figure 1

Rising sea levels would have a radical impact

Arctic Ice Cap in 1979 . . .

Figure 2

. . . and much reduced in 2005

Source: Nasa

September 2006

rob.morrison@clsa.com

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Lost property Impact if sea level was to rise six metres¹

Potential portfolio value destruction Henderson Land

(US$bn) 15

Wharf

12

Hongkong Land

11

Sun Hung Kai Properties

8

Swire Pacific

5

Hysan

4

¹ ‘The Earth’s history suggests that with warming of 2-3oC the new equilibrium sea level will include not only most of the ice from Greenland and West Antarctica, but a portion of East Antarctica, raising sea levels by the order of 25 metres (80 feet).’ Dr James E Hansen, Director of the Goddard Institute of Nasa, February 2006


Introduction

Hong Kong pollution

A six-metre rise in sea levels would have a radical impact on Hong Kong: as the map opposite shows, a great deal of Central and Kowloon would disappear, as would the airport and mass transit railway systems as they currently exist. Ironically, given the government’s evident priorities, the Tamar site - to be its new seat from 2011 - would also be under water. Hong Kong is not the first metropolitan area that has been forced to face up to the problems of pollution, with larger cities such as Tokyo, London and Los Angeles having already tackled the issue. In light of the experience of these cities, in Section 4 we highlight what Hong Kong should be doing right now. Without intervention, the situation will deteriorate

What is clear is that without action, this problem will only get worse and Hong Kong will suffer as a consequence. There is no question that there is more that everyone can do: the government can do more; the business community can do more; the Hong Kong owners of factories across the border can do more; Hong Kong’s power companies can do more; and, we know, at CLSA we can do more. We have published this report as a proactive way of participating in efforts to improve Hong Kong’s environment. The need for all of us to do more is urgent. We no longer have the luxury of time. If we don’t aim for what appears to be the impossible, the question we should all be asking ourselves is what sort of world our children and their children will inherit?

Rob Morrison CEO, CLSA

September 2006

rob.morrison@clsa.com

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

Christine Loh CEO, Civic Exchange cloh@civic-exchange.org

Simon Ng kwsng@civic-exchange.org Hong Kong's air quality has deteriorated rapidly in the past decade

But lax standards and averaging mask the truth

The air that we breathe So what’s the problem? While it is easy to observe that Hong Kong's air quality has deteriorated rapidly in the past decade, it is not so easy to neatly define and lay out the proximate causes. This is because there are many sources of pollution (power generators; land vehicles; marine emissions from the port and emissions from industry across the border in Guangdong) generating multiple primary pollutants. The major three are sulphur dioxide (SO2), which is largely produced by coal-burning power plants; nitrogen dioxide (NO2) mostly a function of vehicular emissions; and suspended particulate matter (or airborne aerosols), which are so damaging to the lungs. The truth behind the level of pollution in Hong Kong is also obscured by lax standards and averaging, which neatly mitigates the severe roadside levels where 50% of residents spend a lot of their time. For example, despite the “average” PM10 levels remaining close to Hong Kong's stated Air Quality Objectives, they are 200% higher than the latest WHO guidelines. Furthermore, by not yet reporting the PM2.5 levels, which are acknowledged to be significantly more harmful, the public is being denied a true assessment of the potential harm of extended outdoor exposure. In this section we define Hong Kong’s standards, compare them to WHO guidelines and broadly identify the sources of the city’s air quality problems.

Hong Kong standards In July 2006, Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s promised that fighting air pollution is a top priority of the government. He must urgently address the following issues: Fighting air pollution a top priority of the government

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Air quality is poor and has been deteriorating steadily for many years as a result of the increase in regional as well as local emissions.

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Outdated Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) no longer protect public health.

!

Air Pollution Index (API) is derived from the AQOs. Thus, even an API reading below 100 does not mean the air quality is acceptable.

!

Street-level air pollution is a major health threat with about half of Hong Kong’s population living and/or working in roadside environments.

Figure 3

Air quality alarmingly bad in 2004

Hong Kong’s average pollutant levels (2004) and air quality standards W HO GAQG (2006) PM 2.5 PM 10

0

20

HKAQO (1987)

NO 2

40

Air pollutant annual mean concentration

PM 10

Air-quality standards

NO 2

60

80

NO 2 Urban (2004) PM 10 Urban (2004)

100

120

NO 2 Roadside (2004)

PM 10 Roadside (2004)

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

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September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

Figure 4

Pollution levels at selected stations and health implications API Concentration Health implications of long-term (µg/m3) exposure

Low (0 – 25) Medium (26 – 50) High (51 – 100)

PM10: 0 – 28 NO2: 0 – 40 PM10: 28 – 55 NO2: 40 – 80 PM10: 55 – 180 NO2: 80 – 150

Very high (101 – 200)

PM10: 180 – 350 NO2: 150 – 280

Severe (201 – 500)

PM10: 350 – 600 NO2: 280 – 940

Long-term effects unlikely

No. of days in 2005 General stations Roadside stations Central/ Sham Shui Causeway Mongkok Western Po Bay 37 (10%) 23 (6%) 0 0

Long-term effects unlikely for 127 (35%) healthy population Long-term effects expected for all 195 (53%) with persistent exposure; immediate health effects unlikely for healthy individuals Long-term effects expected for all 6 (2%) with persistent exposure; even healthy individuals may notice some discomfort Long-term effects expected for all 0 with persistent exposure; widespread symptoms may develop even among the healthy population

137 (38%)

12 (4%)

75 (21%)

199 (55%)

289 (92%)

275 (75%)

3 (1%)

13 (4%)

15 (4%)

0

0

0

Notes: (1) Pollutant concentration based on an averaging time of 24 hours. (2) Only PM10 and NO2 concentrations are given in the table as reference, as they are the most common contributing pollutants for the highest API readings. (3) Number of readings for each station may not add up to 365. There will be no readings, for example, during maintenance. Source: HKEPD

Record rainfall helped cut pollution in 2005 . . .

Air quality still poor Figure 5 shows air quality was alarmingly bad in 2004. And the annual average concentration of major pollutants in ambient air, including respirable suspended particulates (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) are on an uptrend. While the annual average concentrations of these pollutants were lower in 2005, it had a lot to do with record rainfall that year. It is premature to suggest, therefore, as the government has, that Hong Kong has turned the corner. Figure 5

. . . thus it is premature to say Hong Kong has turned the corner

Hong Kong air quality 0.08

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.07 0.06 0.05 0.04

NO2 NO2 SO2 SO2

0.03

PM10 PM10

0.02 0.01 0.00 1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

Two sources of emissions First, there is regional air pollution from Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta (PRD). This well-mixed combination of emissions is the biggest contributor to the haze that envelops much of southern China.

September 2006

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Section 1: The air that we breathe

Vehicular pollution exacerbated by the “street canyon” effect

Hong Kong pollution

Second is Hong Kong’s local air pollution, which arises mainly from power plants and vehicles. Marine emissions, though a smaller part of the overall picture, are also impacting public health. Vehicular pollution is exacerbated by the “street canyon” effect. Lax air quality standards Hong Kong does not have statutorily-backed air quality standards (AQSs). What it has is a set of air quality objectives (AQOs) that the government aims to meet on a best-efforts basis (see Figure 6). The government set the AQOs in 1987. And while many cities around the world have tightened their AQSs over the years, Hong Kong has not.

Best-efforts basis not good enough

Figures 7 and 8 show that NO2 and SO2 concentrations still comply with Hong Kong’s loose AQOs, while the PM10 concentration has constantly breached its AQO (Figure 9). But compliance with AQOs for most major pollutants does not mean the city’s air quality is not a problem.

Figure 6

Hong Kong’s air quality objectives Pollutant

Concentration (µg/m³) averaging time

Health effects of pollutants at elevated ambient levels

1hr¹

8hrs²

24hrs²

3M³

800

-

350

-

80 Respiratory illness; reduced lung function; morbidity and mortality rates increase at higher levels.

Total suspended particulates (TSP)

-

-

260

-

80 Respirable fraction affects health.

PM10 or respirable suspended particulates (RSP)

-

-

180

-

55 Respiratory illness; reduced lung function; cancer risk for certain particles; morbidity and mortality rates increase at higher levels.

300

-

150

-

80 Respiratory irritation; increased susceptibility to respiratory infection; lung-development impairment.

30,000

-

10,000

-

- Impairment of coordination; deleterious to pregnant women and those with heart, circulatory conditions.

240

-

-

-

- Eye irritation; cough; reduced athletic performance; possible chromosome damage.

-

-

-

1.5

Sulphur dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide

Carbon monoxide

Photochemical oxidants (as ozone) Lead

1Y³

- Affects cell and body processes; likely neuropsychological effects, particularly in children; likely effects on rates of incidence of heart attacks, strokes and hypertension.

Notes: ¹Not to be exceeded three times a year. ²Not to be exceeded once a year. ³Average. Source: HKEPD

Monitoring stations represent all areas

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The annual average concentration of a pollutant is usually the arithmetic mean of the annual average readings recorded at all monitoring stations, which are strategically located in different places to measure air quality. For example, Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is managing a network of 14 fixed monitoring stations in the city representing three major land use types - urban, rural and towns in the New Territories, as well as roadside conditions.

cloh@civic-exchange.org

September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

Figure 7

Figure 8

Figure 9

NO2 and HK’s annual AQO

SO2 and HK’s annual AQO

PM10 and HK’s annual AQO

0.085

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.10

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.09

0.080 1Y AQO

0.075

0.065 0.060 0.055

1Y AQO

0.062

0.06

0.060

0.05

0.058

0.04

0.056

0.03

0.050

0.054

0.02

0.045

0.01

0.052

0.040

0.00

0.050

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.064

0.08 0.07

0.070

0.066

1Y AQO

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

There will be variations in pollutant concentration readings between different monitoring stations and within the same station at different times of the day, but the variations will be evened out by the annual average. In some countries, trimmed averages rather than simple arithmetic means are used to reduce the influence of the most extreme readings on the trendline.

Persistent exposure to NO2 at street level puts people’s health at risk,

Local variations within Hong Kong Figures 10-12 illustrate variations in annual mean concentration among different groups of monitoring stations in Hong Kong. For example, since roadside monitoring began in 1999, NO2 concentrations have been 50% higher than the overall mean concentration and have never complied with the AQO. Persistent exposure to such high concentrations of NO2 at street level puts people’s health at risk, regardless of an acceptable overall annual average concentration level, according to Hong Kong’s AQO. Similarly, street-level PM10 concentrations have never complied with the AQO, being roughly 25% higher than the annual mean in the past two years. This poses an unacceptable health risk, especially when almost half of all Hong Kong residents live and/or work in roadside environments.

Figure 10

Figure 11

Figure 12

NO2 by major station types

SO2 by major station types

PM10 by major station types

0.11

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.10

0.10

0.09

0.09

0.08

0.08

0.07

0.07

0.06

0.06

0.05

0.05 0.04

0.04 Urban

New town

Roadside

Rural

Overall average

AQO

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.10 0.09 0.08

Urban New town Roadside Rural Overall average AQO

0.07 0.06 0.05 0.04

0.03

0.03

0.02

0.02

0.01

0.01

0.01

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.03 0.02

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004

Urban New town Roadside Rural Overall average AQO

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

September 2006

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

Figure 13

NO2 by individual stations 120

Annual mean concentration (µg/m³) 1998 2002

100

1999 2003

2000 2004

2001 2005

80 60 40 20 0 C/W

E

KC

KT

SSP

TW

ST

TP

TC

YL

TM

CB

C

MK

Figure 14

SO2 by individual stations 35

1998 2002

Annual mean concentration (µg/m³)

30

1999 2003

2000 2004

2001 2005

25 20 15 10 5 0 C/W

E

KC

KT

SSP

TW

ST

TP

TC

YL

TM

CB

C

MK

YL

TM

CB

C

MK

Figure 15

PM10 by individual stations 120

Annual mean concentration (µg/m³)

100

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

80 60 40 20 0 C/W

E

KC

KT

SSP

TW

ST

TP

TC

Key for x-axes: C/W = Central / Western, E = Eastern, KC = Kwai Chung, KT = Kwun Tong, SSP = Sham Shui Po, TW = Tsuen Wan, ST = Sha Tin, TP = Tai Po, TC = Tung Chung, YL = Yuen Long, TM = Tap Mun, CB = Causeway Bay, C = Central, MK = Mong Kok. Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

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September 2006


Section 1: The air that we breathe

Hong Kong pollution

If we look at the variations in annual concentration by individual monitoring stations (Figures 13-15) we can see important trends. Roadside stations show greatest NO2 pollution

For NO2 concentration, the roadside stations in Causeway Bay (CB), Central (C) and Mongkok (MK) show the highest pollution levels. Urban stations such as Kwai Chung (KC), Kwun Tong (KT), Sham Shui Po (SSP) and Tsuen Wan (TW) come next. Yuen Long (YL) is recording high NO2 concentration relative to other New Town sites. Among all the stations, NO2 concentrations have nudged up at Yuen Long, Tung Chung (TC) (both New Towns), Central, Mongkok (both roadside stations) and even Tap Mun (TM) over the years. Eastern (E) and Kwun Tong are moving in the opposite direction.

Annual SO2 concentration levels have risen gradually at most stations

SO2 concentration has stayed at a fairly low level across the board, but it should not be missed that the annual concentration levels have risen gradually at most stations. Causeway Bay and Eastern are the only stations that show improvement between 1998 and 2005. Kwai Chung, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, Tung Chung and Yuen Long all recorded substantial jumps in SO2 concentrations in the past few years. All general stations have been recording higher PM10 concentrations since 1998, including Tap Mun in the countryside. In contrast, two of the three roadside stations are showing better PM10 readings: Causeway Bay and Central. Even so, all roadside-station readings are still much higher than those of the general stations. Hong Kong’s problems Based on data, it is possible to identify and explain the following emerging trends:

Increase in traffic offsets benefit from government efforts to cut emissions

Most vessels calling at Hong Kong are burning high-sulphur bunker fuel

September 2006

!

First, street-level pollution is a major air quality problem. Roadside NO2 and PM10 concentrations remain high and harmful to human health, and SO2 concentrations are edging up again. One explanation is that, in the long run, the increase in road traffic offsets any benefit that may be gained from the government’s efforts to reduce emission per vehicle through better engines and cleaner fuels.

!

Second, air quality at Yuen Long and Tung Chung has deteriorated markedly in the past few years. Both stations are showing an upward trend for major pollutant concentrations, SO2 and PM10 in particular. In fact, both stations have recorded some of the highest hourly and daily readings for pollutant concentrations in recent years. Yuen Long is located in north-western Hong Kong and Tung Chung is on the southwestern side. These locations serve as the first screening stations for regional pollutants coming from the mainland. Some of their highconcentration readings relate to pollutants from the Pear River Delta.

!

Third, SO2 emissions are rising again, with some of the highest growth rates concentrated in areas close to marine activity and the container terminals in Kwai Chung, Tsuen Wan and Sham Shui Po. Hong Kong is a busy port and the number of vessels entering it handles has been growing annually. Most vessels calling at Hong Kong, both ocean-going and river-trade vessels, are burning high-sulphur bunker fuel. Millions of people living and working in and around these areas are therefore exposed to harmful pollutants. Apart from SO2, maritime transport’s contributions to NOX, PM and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) are also rising (see Figures 16-19).

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

!

Growing electricity demand outweighing emission-reduction gains

Finally, the power-generation sector’s contribution to pollution has been rising again over the past four to five years (Figures 16-19). One possible explanation is that growing electricity demand from different sectors is outweighing emission-reduction benefits gained via various pollutioncontrol measures and the commissioning of gas-fired plants.

Figure 16

Figure 17

Sulphur dioxide emission index

Nitrogen oxides emission index

250

(Index)

Electricity generation

Road transport

Maritime transport

Civil aviation

250

Total

200

(Index)

150

100

100

50

50

0

Road transport

Maritime transport

Civil aviation

Total

200

150

Electricity generation

0

1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

Figure 18

Figure 19

Particulate matters emission index

Non-methane volatile organic compound emission index

250

(Index)

Electricity generation

Road transport

Maritime transport

Civil aviation

250

Total

200

150

100

100

50

50

0

Electricity generation

Road transport

Maritime transport

Civil aviation

Total

200

150

1990

(Index)

0 1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

How AQOs relate to the API Many countries use an Air Pollution Index (API), an indicator designed to show the level of air pollution in a city or a region. Hong Kong stations measure concentrations of five pollutants

Hong Kong introduced its API in 1995 as a simple means of disseminating air pollution information to the general public. General and roadside monitoring stations measure concentrations of five pollutants, namely PM10, SO2, NO2, O3 and carbon monoxide (CO). The readings are then converted to a scale of 0 to 500. The API is not the arithmetic mean of all the hourly measurements. Rather, it is the highest hourly reading recorded among the five pollutants at each monitoring station. For example, if NO2 concentration measured at the roadside monitoring station in Mongkok is yielding the highest API between 2pm and 3pm, this API will become the hourly API for Mongkok, and NO2 will be reported as the contributing pollutant.

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September 2006


Section 1: The air that we breathe

Hong Kong pollution

The API is measured against the AQO. The index is constructed in a way that an API value of 100 for a certain pollutant corresponds to its short-term AQO, and an API value of 50 corresponds to its long-term AQO. Figure 20

Air Pollution Index and AQO (EPD) API 25 50 100

Relationship with HKAQO 50% of annual HKAQO / 25% of short-term HKAQO Annual HKAQO / 50% of short-term HKAQO Short-term HKAQO

Source: HKEPD

People naturally focus on situations where the API exceeds 100

In other words, an API value higher than 100 means the concentration level of at least one pollutant is not in compliance with Hong Kong’s short-term AQO. Such a high level of air pollution may have immediate negative health effects on people with existing heart or respiratory illnesses. It is therefore natural for people to focus mainly on situations where the API exceeds 100. However, a sub-100 API does not necessarily mean the air is safe, for the following reasons: !

In this respect, we see a worrying trend, with the proportion of daily API readings in excess of 50 having risen from 50% in 1999 to 65% in 2004 for general stations, and from 84% to 88% for roadside stations. (Note, high rainfall led to better readings in 2005.) Thus, Hong Kong people are becoming exposed to air pollution-related long-term health risks more days of the year than before.

Hong Kong people more exposed to air-pollutionrelated long-term health risks than before

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Hong Kong needs to tighten up its AQOs

First, while a high API (51-100) is in compliance with the short-term AQO, a consistent period of high API over a year may lead to violation of the long-term AQO. In other words, if a person is persistently exposed to air pollution that gives an API of 51-100, he may not suffer immediate health effects, but chronic health problems may develop over the long term.

Second, governments around the world are setting different AQS to meet their own needs. In places where lax standards are adopted, API readings may give a false impression of the state of air pollution.

Hong Kong’s lax standards A measurement of 50µg/m3 of PM10 over a 24-hour period translates to an API of just below 50 in Hong Kong, where an API of 50 corresponds to 55µg/m3 (which is also the annual AQO for PM10). However, the same concentration translates to an API of 100 in the EU and California, where 50µg/m3 is taken as the short-term 24-hour limit value for PM10, and an API of 100 corresponds to short-term air quality standards. Similarly, moderate or high API readings for Hong Kong would become very high and severe API readings if the indices were calculated based on tighter AQSs used elsewhere. AQS with legislative force should become the basis of air quality management for any government. It ultimately reflects an administration’s commitment to tackle air pollution problems and its determination to protect public health. Hong Kong’s AQOs, set in 1987, were based on limited knowledge about the impact of air pollution on human health, and it is the government’s responsibility to keep updating its standards for the wellbeing of its citizens.

September 2006

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

Established by the Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities, the Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network has been in operation since 30 November 2005. The PRD Regional API is published daily and is available on the EPD website. This network represents a major collaborative achievement and lays the foundation for developing a regional air quality management system. But it would be even more useful if the concentrations of the various pollutants were shown real-time online instead of giving an aggregate API, since neither Hong Kong nor Guangdong’s AQO/AQS are strong enough to protect public health.

How it stacks up against new WHO guidelines Hong Kong lags other major cities . . .

Hong Kong is lagging other major world cities in terms of cleaning up its act and falls short of most WHO air quality guidelines: !

Health-damaging particulate levels are worse than those in Vancouver, Paris, New York, London and Los Angeles.

!

PM10 concentrations are 200% higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Air Quality Guidelines, which should be adopted in 2006.

!

The government recently stated it is to commission a study on tightening the AQOs.

Figure 21

. . . and not enough being done about it

Hong Kong’s RSP (PM10) level is worse than most cities

100

Pollution (RSP) (Microgram per cubic meter)

Shanghai, Guangzhou 2004 (99)

80 Hong Kong 2004 (62)

60 40

Los Angeles 2003 (44)

London 2005 (30) New York 2003 (22) Paris 2003 (21)

20 0

Hong Kong AQO

WHO AQG

Vancouver 2004 (13)

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

Previous guidelines offered insufficient protection

Why the WHO revised its guidelines The WHO published a new set of global air quality guidelines (GAQG) last year that will come into effect in September 2006. In general, AQSs around the world take toxicological and epidemiological evidence into account, and consider whether the standards protect vulnerable groups. They are therefore health-based and not set with economic and political impacts in mind. The responsibility of governments is to see what policies they need to implement, and at what economic cost, to protect the health of citizens. While the WHO’s new GAQG do not supersede individual cities and countries’ AQSs, they have been put together on the basis of international consensus using the latest accumulated scientific evidence relevant to human exposure to air pollution and exposure-related disease. The WHO notes: ‘These guidelines are written for worldwide use, intended to support actions aiming for air quality at the optimal achievable level of publichealth protection in different contexts . . . the epidemiological evidence

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

indicates that the possibility of adverse effects remain, even if the guideline values are achieved, and some countries might select even lower concentrations for their standards’. In other words, the WHO considers it necessary to tighten AQSs as its previous guidelines, revised in 2000, were found to be still insufficient to protect the health of the general public and that more stringent guidelines are needed. The WHO is also of the view that cities and countries must take action to improve their air quality to protect the health of their people. Controlling PM levels is critical to public health

While all pollutants are of concern, a particular issue is PM. There is increasingly robust evidence about the severe health effects associated with ambient PM, which can penetrate the lungs and increase the likelihood of disease and premature death. Recent health studies have been unable to find a threshold below which PM has no effect on health (thus, implying there is no safe level of PM). Finer particles (PM2.5 or less) are even more hazardous than larger ones (PM10) in terms of mortality and cardiovascular and respiratory illness. Thus, controlling PM levels has become a critical public health issue.

Instead of guideline values, WHO gives risk estimates for PM levels

The WHO noted: ‘The available information for short- and long-term exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 does not allow a judgement to be made regarding concentrations below which no effect would be expected. For this reason, no guideline values have been recommended, but instead risk estimates have been provided.’ The report further noted long-term exposure to PM is associated with ‘reduced survival . . . prevalence of bronchitis symptoms in children, and of reduced lung function in children and adults . . . . These effects have been observed at annual average concentration of levels below 20ug/m3 (as PM2.5) or 30ug/m3 (as PM10).’ Comparing the US, California and EU AQSs with those of Hong Kong and Guangdong (Figure 22), we see their standards are considerably tighter. The WHO’s new GAQG is also causing governments around the world to review national air quality standards with the view to tightening them further in the years to come, especially with respect to PM2.5, and to consider what policies are necessary to reduce air pollution further. Figure 22

US, California and EU standards are considerably tighter

International air quality standards Pollutant

Averaging time

10 minutes 1 hour 24 hours annual 1 hour Nitrogen dioxide 24 hours (NO2) annual 24 hours PM10 annual 24 hours PM2.5 annual 1 hour Ozone (O3) 8 hours Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

(Concentration in µg/m3) WHO (2000) 500

WHO (2006) 500

US

125 50 200

20 (a) 200

365 80

40

40 50 20 25 10

100 150 50 65 15

100

157

120

California

EU

HK

China

655 105 470

350 125 20 200 (b)

50 20

40 (b) 50 40

800 350 80 300 150 80 180 55

500 150 60 240 120 80 150 100

240

200

12 180 137

Notes: (a) no need for an annual guideline as compliance with the 24-hour level will assure low levels for the annual average. (b) to be met by 1 January 2010. Sources: WHO; USEPA; CARB; HKEPD; EU

September 2006

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 1: The air that we breathe

The Hong Kong Government buries its head in the sand

Hong Kong’s response to international trends Up until May 2006, Hong Kong’s minister with the environment portfolio, Sarah Liao, responded to media questions on tightening Hong Kong AQOs saying: ‘People will have to be pragmatic about how to set objectives . . . you set it this low, nobody can comply, it becomes a joke’ (Bloomberg, 15 May 2006). This is similar to what was stated on the EPD website: ‘The rationale is that to adopt too stringent a standard would be pointless as nobody is able to comply.’ In other words, the Hong Kong government was unwilling to use the most potent tool governments have to drive down air pollution. The matter is urgent. After all, Figures 23 and 24 show the extent to which Hong Kong’s air quality falls behind not only the new WHO GAQGs but also its own local AQO for PM10 and NO2. In the case of PM2.5, which Hong Kong AQO does not yet cover, the annual mean concentration in 2004 was 55ug/m3 in Central (roadside pollution), 48ug/m3 in Yuen Long and 46ug/m3 in Tsuen Wan, when the WHO GAQG 2006 provides for 25ug/m3.

PM concentration is a major concern

Thus, PM concentration is a major concern, with residents regularly exposed to high levels that exceed even the region’s relatively lax standards. For example, Hong Kong’s PM levels are about 40% higher than those in Los Angeles, the city that has the worst air pollution in the US. Throughout Hong Kong and the PRD, people are also experiencing health-threatening concentrations of O3, which is chemically highly reactive and a strong respiratory irritant, and one of the main components of haze (smog). Thus, even if Hong Kong meets its current AQO level for PM and Guangdong does the same over the border, significant negative health impacts – including reduction in life expectancy – are likely. On the other hand, it is also clear that a reduction of air pollution in the region will lead to considerable health benefits. Indeed, there is ample evidence to strongly recommend policy action to establish and comply with more stringent standards in order to significantly reduce levels of pollution, including PM and O3.

Fighting air pollution is now a top priority

With Chief Executive Donald Tsang having made high-profile statements in July 2006 (in response to mounting public pressure) that fighting air pollution is now a top priority.

Figure 23

Figure 24

Monthly PM10 concentration

Monthly NO2 concentration

120 100

General Roadside

(µg/m³) Hong Kong PM10 AQO (annual) = 55

160 140

General Roadside

(µg/m³) Hong Kong AQO (annual) = 80

120 80

100

60

80 60

40

40 20 Proposed WHO PM10 (annual) = 20 0

20

Proposed WHO (annual) = 40

0

Jan 01 Sep 01 May 02 Feb 03 Oct 03

Jun 04 Mar 05 Nov 05

Jan 01 Sep 01 May 02 Feb 03 Oct 03

Jun 04 Mar 05 Nov 05

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

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September 2006


Pressing issues

“Foul air put runners at risk, experts say� SCMP, 19 February 2006 following death of a man after taking part in the Standard Chartered Marathon in Hong Kong on 12 Feb.


Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Christine Loh CEO, Civic Exchange cloh@civic-exchange.org

Health issue impact productivity, inflate costs

Hong Kong pollution

The cost of air pollution

So what is it costing us? Since 2003, the number of hazy days - meaning visibility is less than eight kilometres - has doubled. Clearly, there are multiple cost implications associated with Hong Kong’s deteriorating air quality. First, the very real and growing health issue impacts productivity, inflates healthcare costs and tragically contributes to unnecessary deaths. A recent public health report has estimated that Hong Kong could avoid 1,600 deaths and some 64,000 hospital days each year if it could upgrade its “average” pollution days (using 2004 as the benchmark) to “good” levels.

Bad press will make tourists wary of visiting

Second, tourism will suffer as people read more articles like Time magazine’s ‘Bad Air Days’ and ‘Foul air put runners at risk, experts say’ as the South China Morning Post heralded on 19 February 2006, following the death of a man after taking part in the city’s Standard Chartered Marathon. The cynical may say mainlanders, with their own acute pollution problems, will be more insulated from such bad press because Hong Kong’s air quality is still better than that of many mainland cities. But that is to miss the point altogether on public health grounds and people can be put off visiting.

Firms likely to relocate to places like Singapore

Third, business will be lost as firms choose to relocate their hubs and headquarters. This has been especially evident in the fast-growing hedgefund industry where lifestyle is trumping proximity to China. Compounding this trend is the fact Singapore, Hong Kong’s primary competitor as a regional hub, is capitalising on its green image and tax-friendly incentives to lure lifestyle-oriented managers to their city state.

Public health costs Better air quality could see huge financial gains

These would come from avoided healthcare costs, lack of lost productivity and intangible costs

28

The cost of Hong Kong’s air pollution to public health is enormous and the value of potential benefits arising from improvements is substantial: !

Family doctor visits for respiratory problems total 6.8 million per year.

!

Hospital bed days, mostly for heart, lung and blood-vessel diseases, total 64,000 per year.

!

Deaths, mostly from heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and other lung diseases total 1,600 per year.

!

Value of the benefits of air quality improvement would be more than HK$21 billion per year (Figure 25).

A report published in June 2006 by public health experts, air quality scientists and public policy experts noted that if Hong Kong can improve its “average” air quality days to “better”, the city could avoid 36,000 hospital bed days and 800 deaths per year. And if it could raise the bar to “good” levels it would avoid 64,000 hospital bed days and 1,600 deaths per year. This would result in annual dollar “savings” of HK$1-1.5 billion in avoided healthcare costs; HK$0.3-0.5 billion in lack of lost productivity; and up to HK$19 billion in intangible costs (including value of lives lost and willingness to pay to avoid illness). See Defining air pollution levels on page 31 for definitions of average, better and good air quality.

cloh@civic-exchange.org

September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Figure 25

“Savings� could amount to HK$21bn

Benefits of better air quality

Direct health costs & productivity loss avoided HK$2.008bn 1,600

+

(HK$m)

1,400

Intangible costs for pain & suffering HK$19.172bn (HK$m)

=

1,200 1,000 800

15,000 10,000

Total value of harm avoided HK$21.18bn

600 400 200

20,000

5,000 0 WTP for avoidance of serious chronic & less serious illness Deaths

0 Direct costs Productivity losses

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

Myriad associated health problems

Health problems arising from air pollution Adverse health outcomes attributable to air pollution include: ! Hospital admissions, emergency room visits and doctor consultations. ! Mortality and higher risks of mortality, especially among sensitive groups (persons with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory diseases, and elderly people). ! Diseases of the respiratory system such as coughs, phlegm and wheezes, acute and chronic bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma; and cardiovascular problems including increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. ! Lung impairment in the short and long term; higher risk of lung cancer. ! Poorer physical fitness for the population. Figure 26

Early on health effects are largely unnoticed . . .

The pyramid of harm from air pollution

Deaths

Serious chronic illness & increased healthcare utilisation

Evidence of serious adverse health effects from laboratory studies and population surveys

First symptoms and less serious illness Disturbed physiological function, or subclinical damage to individual organs or body systems Pollutant exposure

Health effects which are largely unmeasured

Proportion of the population affected Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

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Section 2: The cost of air pollution

. . . but increasing visits to doctors and hospital admissions will follow

The four key pollutants are particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone

Hong Kong pollution

Figure 26 shows the distribution of harm air pollution causes to public health. At the base of the pyramid is the proportion of the population exposed. Among these, large numbers will have subclinical (ie unobserved) inflammatory changes in body tissues, such as in the lungs and arteries as a result of injury caused by pollutants. In some people, symptoms will develop leading to self-medication or perhaps increased doctor consultations. Progression to serious chronic disease will be reflected in hospital admissions, which provide public-health experts with measures of the impact of air pollution on vital organs and health-related quality of life. The key pollutants The four pollutants used to estimate the impact of air pollution on public health are: ! Particulate matter (PM, measured as PM10 - called respirable particulates in Hong Kong [RSP]) ! Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) ! Sulphur dioxide (SO2) ! Ozone (O3) formed from nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) under the influence of ultraviolet light (sunlight). The “culprit” air pollutant or mix of pollutants may differ from place to place as a result of variances in the pattern of air pollution in different regions. Thus, the dominant problem may be the gaseous pollutants in one place and particulates in another. Nevertheless, studies show a positive association between air pollution and poorer health across different cities and regions where the dominant air pollutant(s) may differ. Figure 27

The mix of pollutants may differ from place to place

Air pollution – Combination of effects

RSP NO2 SO2

+

O3

We sum up the avoidable health problems assoicated with individual pollutants after adjusting for the correlation among pollutants (RSP, NO2 and SO2); but we treated ozone (O3) as an independent pollutant Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

Combined impact likely to be even more harmful

30

Evidence shows that each air pollutant exerts an independent effect on health outcomes. Air pollution is, in reality, a complex mix of chemical pollutants and there is still uncertainty as to the extent of harm to human health arising from the overlapping contribution made by pollutants acting together, but the combined impact of is likely to be even more harmful.

cloh@civic-exchange.org

September 2006


Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Hong Kong pollution

Defining air pollution levels In June 2006 public health experts, air quality scientists and public policy experts set out to identify the economic savings Hong Kong would achieve if the city improved its pollution levels. Stark contrast

The team began by identifying days with poor and better visibility between January 2004 and July 2005. Figures 28 and 29 show photographs taken from the same location on 1 August 2004 and 4 January 2005 showing a poor and a better visibility day.

Figure 28

Figure 29

Taken on 1 August 2004 (better visibility)

Taken on 4 January 2005 (poor visibility)

Photos: Edward Stokes

Concentration of air pollutants generally much higher on hazy days

For the dates on which these photographs were taken, the researchers matched the days with the government-recorded hourly concentrations of PM10, O3, NO2 and SO2. The hourly data were then plotted and the daily average concentration of each pollutant calculated. The photographs above show the marked variation in visibility on the recorded dates. The hourly concentrations of air pollutants on the days with “poor” visibility were generally much higher (in particular PM10 and NO2) than those with “better” visibility. The researchers then set four different levels of pollution defined in terms of good, better, poor and average for easy understanding: ! Level 1 Good = The mean of the minimum concentrations on better visibility days. ! Level 2 Better = The mean of the concentrations on better visibility days.

Four pollution levels

! Level 3 Poor = The mean of the concentrations on poor visibility days. ! Level 4 Average = The annual average of all actual daily concentrations in 2004.

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Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Hong Kong could avoid 1,600 deaths and 64,000 hospital-bed days . . .

Hong Kong pollution

Potential improvements in Hong Kong’s air pollution In a 2002 government-commissioned report, using data from the year 2000, the economic loss caused by respiratory and cardiovascular diseases related to air pollution was estimated at around HK$1.7 billion per year (including medical consultation and hospitalisation costs and loss of productivity). A new and more extensive report published in June 2006 by public health experts, air quality scientists and public policy experts noted that if Hong Kong could improve its “average” air quality days to “better” air quality days, the city would avoid about 800 deaths a year. While it would avoid 1,600 deaths per year if air quality improved to “good” levels. In terms of serious illness episodes from cardiopulmonary disease, Hong Kong can avoid about 36,000 hospital bed days by reducing pollutants from “average” to “better” and about 64,000 hospital bed days by moving from “average” to “good”.

. . . and dollar savings could be huge

The annual dollar value of the avoided healthcare costs resulting from bringing Hong Kong’s air pollution levels in line with other world cities, such as London, Paris and New York would be HK$1-1.5 billion; avoided productivity loss HK$0.3-0.5 billion and avoided intangible costs up to nearly HK$20 billion. Using the four defined air pollution levels – poor, average, better and good the experts estimated the annual health effects and value of the costs that would be avoided if, instead of the higher air pollution levels, there had been the next lower level for a year. In recent years, 45% of the number of days in a year are worse than average. Figure 30

Number of below-average days on the rise

Potential improvements in Hong Kong’s air quality What happens if . . .

% of days at these levels

Pollution (RSP) (Microgram per cubic meter) Poor

100

2% 43%

. . . we go from average to better? 80 60

Hong Kong 2004 (62)

40

44% Better

20 0

Average

Good

8% 2%

. . . we go from average to good?

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

By taking other data such as days spent in hospitals, outpatient consultations, calculation for the value of a life, family doctor visits, relevant household spending, travel costs related to illness, productivity losses, willingness-topay responses etc, avoided costs were then calculated based on improvements from a worse to an improved position among the four levels.

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Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Hong Kong pollution

Figure 31

Determining avoidable costs

Unit costs used in estimating avoidable costs (HK$) Direct costs of illness Public hospital bed days

3,132

Acute general ward

2,734

Chronic infirmary ward

5,188

Coronary-care unit public outpatient visits Government general-health clinic

219

Public hospital general clinic

301

Specialist clinic

660

A&E department

571

Family doctor visits

163

Travel costs Taxi (roundtrip and less than 5km/trip) Bus (roundtrip)

72 8.40

Productivity loss Median monthly income, males Median monthly income, females Overall median monthly income

12,000 8,800 10,000

Intangible costs Willingness-to-pay to avoid a death Willingness-to-pay to avoid a hospital admission for respiratory/ cardiovascular reasons Willingness-to-pay to avoid a day of coughing

10,000,000 4,900/ 4,100 184

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

Hong Kong is exposed to poor to average PM10 and O3 concentrations more than 75% of the time

In particular, the research shows that on more than 75% of days in a year, people in Hong Kong are exposed to PM10 and O3 concentrations that fall within poor and average levels. To illustrate the estimation of changes in risk with improved air quality, the experts calculated the number of deaths avoided from reduction of a single pollutant. In the case of NO2, the risk of mortality associated with this pollutant per 10ug/m3 increase was 0.64%. When the pollution level changed from average to better the change in risk was 1.7%. The number of avoidable deaths attributable to NO2 was 545 (ie the total number of deaths in the year). Similar calculations were done for the other pollutants. The deaths avoidable were then summed up after adjusting for the correlation between pollutants.

This takes its toll on public health

The deaths avoidable by achieving air quality improvements from average to better were 769 and from average to good were 1,583 (approximately 1,600). Avoidable bed days for hospital admissions were 36,326 for the difference between average and better, and 64,207 (approximately 64,000) for improvements from average to good.

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Figure 32

Figure 33

Deaths avoided on shift from average to good

Hospital days avoided on shift from average to good

Pollution (RSP) (Microgram per cubic meter) Poor

100 80

Pollution (RSP) (Microgram per cubic meter)

Hong Kong 2004

1,600

60

100 80

Average

Hong Kong 2004

64,000

Po

Average

60 40

40 Better Good

20

Better 20

0

Good

0

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

The value of lost lives accounted for most of the intangible costs

Furthermore, the avoidable dollar values can also be assessed as per Figure 34. The avoidable direct costs of illness were HK$1-1.5 billion for moving from average to better or good. About 76% of these costs were due to avoided family doctor visits and 19% due to public-healthcare savings. Avoidable productivity losses were up to HK$0.5 billion while avoidable intangible costs were HK$10-19 billion. The value of lost lives accounted for most of the intangible costs. Figure 34

Avoidable costs (HK$)

Average to better

Average to good

103,314,117

182,595,046

84,315,594

133,527,565

Direct cost of illness Public-hospital admissions Public outpatient visits Private-hospital admissions Family doctor visits Travel costs Total direct costs

7,281,544

12,870,139

724,520,232

1,113,504,483

40,709,783

61,894,109

970,141,270

1,504,391,343

Productivity loss Hospital admissions

1,744,263

3,102,961

Family doctor visits

82,223,270

124,647,322

Premature deaths Total productivity loss

182,845,220

376,237,624

266,812,753

503,987,907

7,692,517,649

15,828,767,946

Intangible costs Deaths Serious chronic illness Less serious illness Total intangible costs

34,024,336

59,797,014

2,270,028,285

3,283,378,006

9,996,570,270

19,171,942,967

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

The economic cost Hazy days and negative press are hitting tourism and recruitment

The rapid increase in the number of hazy days since 1995 is an indication of Hong Kong’s deteriorating air quality. While the worsening trend was clear by 1980, the rise has been especially dramatic since 2003 (see Figure 41). Negative international press on this issue is impacting tourism and Hong Kong’s brand as Asia’s World City especially as neighbouring cities try to attract global talent to relocate by offering lifestyle benefits - including cleaner air.

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Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Figure 35

Figure 36

Looking from Central to TST on a good day . . .

. . . and a hazy day

Figure 37

Figure 38

A view from Victoria Peak on a good day . . .

. . . and a hazy day

Figure 39

Figure 40

Capturing Wanchai from TST on a good day . . .

. . . and a hazy day

Hong Kong pollution

Note: The clear-day shots were taken on 15 August 2006 while the hazy day images were captured just a few days later on 20 August. Source: CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets

September 2006

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Figure 41

A very worrying trend

Hazy days in Hong Kong 60

(No. per year)

50 40 30 20 10 0 1970

1973

1976

1979

1982

1985

1988

1991

1994

1997

2000

2003

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

Factors affecting GDP growth

Non-health related economic costs are hard, if not impossible, to calculate with any degree of accuracy. These include costs arising from the loss of visibility, falling property values, diminution of Hong Kong’s brand value, deterioration of earnings arising from such impacts, and how these factors may impact GDP growth. Indeed, there are no generally accepted methodologies to make such assessments. Nevertheless, they do play a role in people’s behaviour, and many sectors of the Hong Kong community are increasingly talking about these issues.

Hard to calculate economic impact of loss of visibility . . .

Visibility impairment While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies reduced visibility as the best indicator of the environmental effects of air pollution, the loss of visibility also has economic impacts that are widespread although extremely hard to calculate accurately. Visibility is defined as ‘the greatest distance at which an observer can see a black object viewed against the horizon sky’, which is technically referred to as the “visual range” When assessing visibility, we must also consider how objects are actually viewed and this includes difficult-to-value things like value judgments, which allow us to appreciate scenic beauty.

. . . as scenic visibility has no separate market value

The economic value of a good is determined by how much an individual will pay for that good. For market goods, the value is therefore reflected in its market price. But since, it cannot be bought and sold, which complicates the process of calculating its economic value. Visibility is valued by people at home, at work and in relation to amenity and recreation. It is also valued because of the importance people place on protecting nationally significant areas, especially beautiful countryside, as well as famous urban scenery, even when there is no immediate benefit to a particular individual. A good Hong Kong example is the view of Victoria Harbour from the Peak.

Calculating willingness to pay for visibility

36

Calculating the non-health related economic cost of air pollution is an underresearched area and there are no widely accepted empirical estimates of visibility values. With the exception of the US, which has regulated Regional cloh@civic-exchange.org

September 2006


Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Hong Kong pollution

Haze since 1980, few countries have assessed the economic value of visibility in any depth. Incentives in the US for addressing visibility were the result of potential reduction of tourism (to national parks) and associated loss of revenue and to a “green” image of famous scenic areas. Loss of revenue was recognised to have knock-on consequences due to potential effects of the local housing market. The desire to protect national recreational resources was a driver of the evolution of the Clear Skies Act 2003 in the US. The main techniques are to calculate revealed or stated preferences

Calculating the economic value of visibility is challenging. The benefits arising from good visibility are contingent on a range of factors and uncertainties, including people’s perceptions and the nature of the setting (eg urban, residential, rural or scenic). The main techniques are to calculate revealed or stated preferences. The former infers preferences from actual or observed behaviour of people, whereas the latter elicits people’s preferences through asking specific questions. The most widely used method in assessing the monetary impact of visibility is contingent valuation, which looks at how much people are willing to pay (WTP) for visibility. This method usually involves presenting subjects with a series of photographs of the same location with different visibility levels and then ascertains their WTP for a prescribed improvement. The hypothetical nature of WTP (being dependent on what people say they will do, not what they actually do) raises questions about the extent to which this method can provide accurate predictions.

The 1997 forest fires in Indonesia had a transborder impact

Bad air leads to bad press

In Asia, the health effects of poor visibility are the priority and no specific indepth visibility valuation and economic analysis has been carried out. It was widely recognised, however, that the 1997 forest fires in Indonesia had a transborder impact that caused disruptions to the transport sector (shipping and inland traffic accidents); adversely affected the fishing industry and agricultural production and hit tourism revenue in several neighbouring countries. Malaysia calculated the value of reduced tourism as a result of the regional haze to be in the order of US$127 million and there was a 30% decline in fish landings. The economic impact of Hong Kong’s haze If Hong Kong were to conduct visibility valuation research, the obvious focal areas would be to assess the potential impact on tourist revenue, as well as the value of residential property. Air pollution (acid rain) also damages buildings, physical structures and monuments, thus resulting in higher maintenance and repair costs, as well as shorter useful lives. ! Tourism. Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong topped 23 million in 2005, of which approximately 10.8 million were international visitors with the balance from mainland China. The total tourism expenditure associated with inbound tourism exceeded HK$100 billion last year. While the number of visitors to Hong Kong has been increasing year to on year (except for a substantial downturn in 2003 as a result of the Sars outbreak) problems began in November 2004 when the Sunday Times in London reported that Hong Kong’s ‘air quality is so poor, it poses a health risk’. Since then, there has been a string of negative reports about Hong Kong’s air quality in the international media. In its 2004 response, the Hong Kong Tourism Board quoted an old study from 1999, which found ‘air quality was not a major factor’ in determining visitors’ choice of Hong

September 2006

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Kong as a destination. The Board added that it had only received two visitor complaints about air pollution in the past two years. The 1999 study found that 84% of visitors surveyed by the Tourism Board did not consider air pollution an issue when deciding whether to visit Hong Kong. Air pollution has deteriorated rapidly since 1999, so much so . . .

Since then, air pollution has deteriorated rapidly. A March 2006 Friends of the Earth survey of 150 local tour guides, who accompany international and mainland visitors while they are in Hong Kong, found 40% of the visitors the tour guides came into contact with were aware of Hong Kong’s pollution before they arrived. While the conclusion could be drawn that the knowledge did not put them off visiting, what was disturbing was that half of the visitors complained about pollution during their visit and 10% suffered pollution-linked health problems while they were in Hong Kong.

. . . that tourism officials now rank improving air quality as a priority

Tourism officials now believe the city’s poor air quality can impact Hong Kong’s brand value and make visitors think twice about taking their trip. Today, they rightly rank improving air quality as a priority for the wellbeing of the industry even though visitor numbers and tourism-related earnings are strong. ! Attracting global talent. Beyond attracting short-term visitors, Asian cities are also competing to try to persuade global talent to relocate. Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Seoul all have better air quality than Hong Kong. This has created opportunities for rival cities to trumpet a better ‘lifestyle’ experience for residents, especially Singapore, which believes it can provide cleaner air and better environmental conditions. Talented individuals in the financial services sector have the highest mobility and some have already moved away from Hong Kong because of the city’s poor air quality. Figure 42

Hong Kong slipping down the ranks Best locations in the world for Asians to live

Best locations in Asia for Asians to live

2004-05

2005-06

2004-05

2005-06

1

1

1

1

20

32

3

5

Singapore Hong Kong Source: ECA International

Many people are leaving Hong Kong, citing poor air quality as the reason

The head of Asian trading for a major fund manager is blaming Hong Kong’s air pollution for his decision to move to Singapore at the end of this year. This way, he keeps his job, and his children, ages nine months and three years, keep their health. ‘I like Hong Kong – it’s a great city, very dynamic,’ said the 38-year old, but ‘the fact that my kids and I have to strap on a gas mask every time we go outside is appalling.’ ‘Residents aren’t the only people affected by air quality,’ said Harry O'Neil, managing director in Hong Kong of Whitney Group (Asia) Ltd, which specialises in recruiting financial-services executives. Potential hires from overseas are turning down job offers in Hong Kong because of health fears, he said. ‘We’ve brought in quite a few people this year, but it's definitely a major consideration and we certainly have rejections,’ said O'Neill, 48, a resident of Hong Kong for 13 years. ‘It’s not even that they want more money. People with young children seriously worry about living here.’ Bloomberg, 21 May 2006.

38

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Figure 43

Figure 44

Hong Kong’s air quality is poorer than that of . . .

. . . its southern neighbour, Singapore

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.10 0.09

NO2 NO2

SO2 SO2

0.08

PM10 PM10

O3 O3

0.07

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.06

NO2 NO2

0.05

SO2 SO2

0.04

0.06 0.05

PM10 PM10

0.03

0.04

0.02

0.03 0.02

0.01

0.01 0.00

0.00 94

95

96

97

98

99

00

01

02

03

04

05

94

95

96

97

98

99

00

01

02

03

04

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

! Residential property prices. Air quality and visibility can impact the long-term value of residential property. Although there has been no direct survey to assess whether Hong Kong buyers are already taking visibility into account. Families with young children likely to consider cleaner locations

A 2001 survey published by Civic Exchange showed that the older age groups in Hong Kong had significantly higher degrees of concern about the effects of air pollution on their personal health and wellbeing. A survey published in 2003 by Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Lung Foundation said that 30% of elderly citizens over the age of 70 complained about respiratory problems because of bad air, compared with 4.9% in 1991. This could indicate that retirees and families living with elderly parents may well pay increasing attention to where they live. Families with young children are also likely to consider cleaner locations, especially those who have the means to choose where to live.

Air quality likely to become a bigger influence on buyers’ decisions

The 2001 Civic Exchange survey also provides a window to the level of concern for the effects of air pollution among the residents living in Hong Kong’s 18 districts. The residents of Central and Western, Wanchai, Yau Tsim Mong (Yaumatei, Tsimshatsui and Mongkok), Kowloon City, North District (Fanling and Sheung Shui), Kwai Tsing and Islands (includes the Tung Chung area on Lantau) showed above-average concern. This means residents in these districts already know they live in highly polluted environments. While no study has been carried out to test whether the residential property prices of these areas have been affected due to poor air quality, this could be a factor influencing buyers’ choice if air pollution data become more widely understood.

Acid rain damages buildings

! Damage to materials. Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of acid rain. The smoke and fumes from burning fossil fuels rise into the atmosphere and combine with the moisture in the air to form acid rain. Acid rain usually forms high in the clouds where SO2 and NOX react with water, oxygen and oxidants. This forms a solution of sulphuric acid and nitric acid. Sunlight increases the rate of most of these reactions. Rainwater and other forms of precipitation containing these mild solutions of sulphuric and nitric acids fall to the earth as acid rain.

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Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Hong Kong pollution

Figure 45

A dangerous cycle

Acid rain is a combination of pollutants and moisture

Source: Civic Exchange

But acid rain levels are moderate in Hong Kong

40

In 1999, the Hong Kong EPD released a report on acid rain in Hong Kong and found the levels to be “moderate�, comparing well against London and New York. Economic losses were mainly in terms of material damage to buildings and the total cost to GDP was found to be 0.05%. But the situation may well have deteriorated. As acid rain can often be carried a long way by the wind, the much more serious acid rain from Guangdong may well impact Hong Kong. Approximately 45% of the rain in parts of the PRD is acid rain. Without further research, it is impossible to estimate the effect on Hong Kong.

cloh@civic-exchange.org

September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Section 3: Challenge for world cities

Christine Loh CEO, Civic Exchange cloh@civic-exchange.org

P Anson Lau info@civic-exchange.org Lessons for Hong Kong

Challenge for world cities Controlling air pollution remains a formidable challenge for cities worldwide. But each faces unique issues depending on the primary pollutants, proximity to industrialised areas and particularly the topography of the cityscape. Some of the world’s great cities - London, Tokyo, and Los Angeles - have experienced and countered acute air pollution over the past 50 years. And Hong Kong can draw some valuable lessons from their experiences.

Key lessons from London, Los Angeles and Tokyo London, Los Angeles and Tokyo must still rein in vehicular pollution

While many urban centres have effectively reduced emissions from power plants and relocated high-polluting industries away from densely populated areas (which Guangdong must do), cities like London, Los Angeles and Tokyo must still rein in vehicular pollution. Los Angeles has neglected to develop a good public transport system, leaving the metropolis with heavy vehicular emissions. The city must also deal with shipping-port-logistics activities to contain rising port-related emissions (as must Hong Kong and Shenzhen). Meanwhile, London and Tokyo are keenly aware of the need to reduce greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency and reduce the climate impact. Figure 46

Measures taken by other cities London

Los Angeles

Tokyo

! Use cleaner fuels. ! Implement road pricing.

! Enforce tough state

! National leader in

! Citizen use of courts to

! Public-private structures

! Establishing emissions

free zones to force fleet replacement.

! Improve energy efficiency ! Dealing with climate change.

legislation.

force compliance.

! Manage regional air

quality with neighbours.

pollution control.

to settle disputes and claims.

! Cheap, efficient, and

extensive rail/ underground networks.

! Focusing on shippingport-logistics sectors.

! High energy efficiency. ! Dealing with climate change.

Source: Civic Exchange

In 1952, London ground to a halt a smog enveloped the capital

The number of deaths in the city spiked . . .

September 2006

London On 5 December 1952, London witnessed exceptionally cold and damp weather. Londoners increased coal burning to stay warm, causing levels of SO2 to rise seven-fold and smoke to increase three-fold. Visibility in central London dropped below 500 meters for 114 hours and 50 meters for 48 hours. Under a blanket of thick yellowFigure 47 black smog (smoke and fog), the London smog, 1952 - Limited visibility city temporarily ground to a halt. Railways, roads and airports ceased to function. Theatre performances were cancelled as seeping fog overwhelmed the auditoriums. Yet even more seriously, the number of deaths in the city spiked. During the following two weeks, more than 4,000 people died. Most victims were either old or afflicted with chronic respiratory and

cloh@civic-exchange.org

Source: www.pbs.org

41


Hong Kong pollution

Section 3: Challenge for world cities

cardiovascular problems. Yet research also revealed that the death rate among adults aged 45-64 tripled while infant mortality rose two-fold. At the time, most Londoners remained unaware of the events unfolding around them until people began noticing undertakers running short of coffins and florists depleted of flowers. . . . due to a fatal mixture of smoke, SO2 and fog

Official reports following the event found the fatal mixture of smoke, SO2 and fog to be the main reason for the spike in deaths. The deadly smog concentrated the amount of pollutants being breathed in by urban dwellers, often in the form of a thick sulphuric acid fog. Predictably, the climax in deaths corresponded with the peak in levels of SO2 and smoke in the atmosphere. Figure 47

London smog 1952 - Peak in deaths corresponded with climax in smoke 1,000

(Deaths per day)

Snokes mg/cu m Deaths Smoke

2

750 1 500 0 250

0 1

8

15

Source: Civic Exchange

This heralded a turning point and led to the Clean Air Act of 1956

The events of 1952 sparked a turning point in the people and government’s actions towards air pollution. People were pushed to stop burning coal for heating and cooking in home furnaces. The Clean Air Act of 1956 regulated domestic sources of smoke pollution by introducing smokeless zones, which in effect limited the burning of coal in homes. At the same time, Britain (like the US) was also suffering the effects of coal-related pollution and began using cleaner fuels, in particular natural gas, to reduce SO2 levels. The Clean Air Act of 1968 introduced the use of tall chimneys for industries burning coal, liquid and gaseous materials to improve the dispersal of emissions. Urban renewal, relocation of manufacturing out of the city and building of power stations in the countryside all contributed to a significant decline in London’s air pollution.

But the rising use of cars led to higher CO, NO2, O3, benzene, aldehyde pollution

But the subsequent rise in motor vehicle usage throughout Britain has more than offset the reduction in smoke and SO2, by increasing carbon monoxide, NO2, O3, benzene and aldehyde pollution. In response, the government began targeting automobile emissions under national and local regulatory bodies. The Motor Vehicles Regulation of 1973 controlled the construction and use of vehicles; in 1974, the Control of Pollution Act went further by specifically dealing with the composition of motor fuels, most notably requiring a decrease in the use of sulphur. This drive to minimise automobile emissions through vehicular construction and fuel composition continued through the 1990s, when the government set standards regarding carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons emissions in the Road Vehicle Regulation of 1991.

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Hong Kong pollution

The state further placed air pollution control for the first time under the jurisdiction of local authorities and polluting industrial processes under an integrated pollution control system (Environmental Protection Act of 1990). Legislation in the 1990s and at the turn of the millennium stressed the importance of a nationwide, statutory framework for local air quality management - laying out standards, targets and objectives for authorities to meet under a national strategy that is reviewed on a regular basis. London still faces an uphill battle but keeps fighting air pollution on all fronts

Today, London’s air quality is better than that of Los Angeles. Nonetheless, London continues to face an uphill battle against deteriorating air quality - not least of all, with automobile pollution. Mayor Ken Livingstone proposed a congestion pricing scheme to tackle London’s traffic and pollution woes. Inspired by the success of other cities, such as Singapore, Livingstone’s plan charged drivers entering a designated central area a fee during the weekdays as an incentive for drivers to choose carefully when, where and how they entered London with their private vehicles. Presumably, those who wished to avoid the charge would forgo unnecessary trips; take another form of transport, such as public bus; or select a more economically minded setup, such as car pool, to enter the zone. Exemptions included licensed taxis, buses, emergency vehicles and certain alternative-fuel cars, while citizens residing within the charging area received a 90% discount on their cars. Figure 48

Inspired by Singapore’s success

London charging scheme - Map of designated area

Source: www.cfit.gov.uk

Drivers are supervised by a system of video cameras

September 2006

When the plan began in February 2003, drivers paid a flat fee of £5 to enter the area; this fee rose to £8 in July 2005, with a western extension of the zone’s borders to come in 2007 and pro-rating the fee according to time spent in the charging area on the drawing board. Drivers may pay via a variety of modes, including retail centres, payment machines, cellular text messaging, or online. Drivers are also supervised by a system of video

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Hong Kong pollution

cameras that take pictures of all vehicle licence plate numbers within the zone and match them against a paid list. Offending vehicles are then mailed a fine of £80, which is reduced to £40 if paid within two weeks and rises to £120 if not paid beyond a month. The overhead startup and operational costs were high, amounting to a projected £600 million from 2000 to 2008 (including three years’ development and five years’ operation). Yet the charging and penalty revenue has more than compensated for the initial cost. For example, in the 2004/5 budget, revenue reached £190 million, with a net profit of £97 million. Reduced vehicle congestion bodes well for air quality

Congestion charging has also spurred an improvement in traffic flows. During the initial months, automobile traffic declined by 20% (approximately 20,000 vehicles daily), average traffic speed increased 37% (from 8mph to 11mph), peak time congestion decreased by 30%, and public transport ridership rose (14% for buses and 1% for the Underground). Reduced vehicle congestion not only bodes well for traffic but also for air quality. A 2004 study by King’s College found a 19.5% reduction in CO2 emissions, 12% in NOx, and 11.9% in PM10 emissions within the charging zone. The research attributed this decline to decreased vehicle numbers – but just as importantly, to increased vehicular speeds. Ultimately, Livingstone’s plans have generated popular support. has been used to improve London transport, such as expanding area and strengthening public transport. London’s success has other cities in Britain to consider pursuing a similar plan metropolises such as Shanghai, Sao Paolo and San Francisco.

Net revenue the charging also spurred as well as

Hong Kong must think more like London Hong Kong should take a leaf out of London’s book

London’s CO2 per capita is roughly 5.54-5.68 tonnes. The capital city is taking climate change seriously because rising tides are an imminent threat. The Thames Barrier, built to hold back storm surges has been forced to shut 19 times in a month. With rising tides, most of South London, The City and the Underground system would be lost. Likewise, a great deal of Hong Kong’s reclaimed land would be under threat if the sea level rises.

Thames Barrier will Hong Kong need one?

London now has a government-backed Climate Change Agency headed by Allan Jones, who transformed the energy system in Woking, a city of 100,000 people. With combined heat and power cogeneration systems and solar energy, Woking has reduced its energy use by 48% since 1990 thereby keeping 5.4 million pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere. Woking is now 90% independent of the grid, with its own energy-services company. Jones’ mission is to scale up what he did in Woking for London, a city of 7.2 million people. London aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 and one of its key focuses is on buildings, by experimenting with high-efficiency localised units that combine power generation with heating and cooling. London’s efforts represent cutting-edge innovation in combining policy, management and technology skills that will make the city more economically competitive via being able to manage its energy needs, which at the same time brings better air quality, improved health for the people and reduces the climatic impact. Currently, Hong Kong’s political and business minds are still overly focused on economic costs of improvements rather than to regard them as necessary investments for the future.

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Section 3: Challenge for world cities

Livingstone has further proposed declaring all of Greater London a low emission zone

Fight against air pollution tied to rise of the automobile in California

Hong Kong pollution

Confronting the stubborn persistence of particulate emissions, Livingstone has further proposed declaring all of Greater London a low-emissions zone (LEZ). Entry into the LEZ requires non-compliant vehicles to either pay a substantial fine or retrofit their engines to meet EU low-emissions standards. London hopes this will spur the commercial vehicular trade to replace buses, trucks and coaches sooner. Hong Kong may note New York City is also considering targeting its fleet of publicly and privately run waste-disposal trucks, buses, and public vehicles. This proposal involves increased emissions regulation, with legal requirements to phase out older, diesel-fuelled vehicles and push for use of alternatively powered vehicles using the likes of natural gas, hybrid or fuel-cell models. Los Angeles The history of Los Angeles’ fight against air pollution is closely tied to the story of automobile growth in California. As the state’s population grew from six million people in 1930 to more than 30 million by 2000, so did the number of vehicles travelling throughout the state. With the largest concentration of people and vehicles in Los Angeles, air quality management became a key problem to resolve. Los Angeles’ first recognised smog incident was in 1943. People complained of irritated eyes, respiratory problems, vomiting and nausea while visibility fell to only three blocks. At the time, the event was blamed on a local butadiene plant. Yet following the plant’s closure, the condition did not improve.

LA smog is caused by reaction between sunlight, NOx and VOCs

Unlike London smog, Los Angeles smog, otherwise known as photochemical smog, is caused by a chemical reaction between sunlight, NOx and VOCs in the atmosphere, which results in airborne particles (PM) and ground-level O3. Los Angeles’ stable, sunny weather, low wind velocity, and low-lying geography produced ideal conditions for photochemical smog to develop. Figure 49

London versus Los Angeles smog Characteristics Primary pollutants Secondary pollutants Weather conditions Inversion type Effects Peak period

London smog SO2, soot Sulphuric acid Cool, stagnant, foggy Marine or radiation Low visibility, breathing difficulties Worse during the mornings

Los Angeles smog NOx, reactive organics O3, organic toxins Warm, sunny, clear Subsistence or marine Low visibility, respiratory stress, eye irritation Worse during the afternoons

Source: Civic Exchange

State and local bodies formed to control emissions

In response to the worsening air situation, California - and Los Angeles launched a series of environmental legislation and formed supervisory bodies at state and local levels to control emissions. In 1947, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors established the first air pollution control district in the US to deal with industrial emissions. In 1955, the Los Angeles Air Pollution Control District created a Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Laboratory to assist in local research of air pollution. Numerous specialist supervisory bodies were also created in the 1960s and 1970s to manage emissions, an example of which was the Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board to test and certify car components for sale in the state. While the federal government pushed for stronger regulation and air quality standards, with such legislation as the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, the first federal Clean Air Act of 1963, and setup of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, California called for even stricter controls within its borders in order to tackle this severe problem.

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Despite rigorous efforts LA continued to exceed federal AQS

Hong Kong pollution

Despite rigorous efforts by the state and local government to control harmful emissions, Los Angeles continued to exceed federal AQS. Failure to build a wide public transport subway network due to political lobbying by the auto sector resulted in a prolific need for cars and the emergence of a wellentrenched car culture. By 1971, Los Angeles’ O3 levels were at 580ppb/hr when the standard was set at 120ppb/hr. In 1977, the city suffered 121 days of Stage 1 Smog Alerts. As late as 1985, Los Angeles was still experiencing O3 levels of 380ppb/hr and the city exceeded Stage 1 Smog Alerts on 118 days that year. Observing that local regulatory systems were failing to produce results, Los Angeles moved to define supervisory jurisdictions along geographical, as opposed to legal, boundaries. This reform reflected Los Angeles’ awareness that smog control could be better achieved through regulating entire geographical areas rather than legal jurisdictions. In 1976, a larger, multicounty regulatory body, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, was formed to handle the pollution in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. Figure 50

A long history of tightening standards

History 1943 1945 1956 1963 1966 1968 1970 1975 1977 1984 1990 1991 1993 1997 2000 2002 2002

of US-California air pollution control Air pollution episode in LA [similar events in other US cities from 1940s to 1960s] LA’s first pollution-control programme [but buses replaced electric-transit system] US Highways Act accelerated roadbuilding in California. US Clean Air Act defined AQS. California set pace for auto tailpipe-emissions standards. California Air Resources Board (CARB) set up to manage air quality. US Clean Air Act: EPA to set AQS, states may set stricter standards. Catalytic converters became widely used in vehicles. Revised Clean Air Act to extend time for compliance. California introduces smog-checks programme for vehicles. Revised Clean Air Act to extend time for compliance again. American Lung Association sued EPA and won forcing AQS review. CARB set new standards for diesel. EPA tightened PM standards. EPA mandated new rule for diesel, capping sulphur levels by 2007. California passed law to require automakers to reduce GHG. California tightened standards for PM10 and PM2.5.

Source: Civic Exchange

46

California implemented vehicle test in 1984 . . .

By the 1980s and 1990s, California had adopted a stronger focus on controlling fuel composition and emissions control systems. In 1984, California implemented a smog-check programme to test all vehicles on a biennial basis in order to determine those in need of maintenance, especially with regard to their emissions systems. In 1993, the state agency, California Air Resources Board (CARB), required new standards for cleaner diesel fuel. Following the introduction of this new requirement PM declined by about 14 tonnes per day, SO2 by 80 tonnes per day and NOx by 70 tonnes per day.

. . . and economic incentive plans for industries in the 1990s

Also in the 1990s, California adopted economic incentive plans for industries. The Air Quality Management District (AQMD) implemented a pollution-credit system. Businesses which reduced their NOx and sulphur oxide emissions without using all of their credits could sell them to more polluting industries. This scheme was envisioned by the AQMD to encourage industries to be as clean as possible in order to profit from their air-friendly practices.

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Section 3: Challenge for world cities

By the turn of the century, Southern California’s air quality had improved dramatically. The state and region established the local AQMD to bring Southern California air quality up to the standards of state and federal guidelines while the state agency CARB was responsible for making sure California met federal targets, with a keen focus on emissions standards. In turn, these two organisations worked towards the unified goals of the federal EPA to protect California’s environment. Figure 51

By the turn of the century, air quality had improved dramatically

Ozone one-hour concentration, Los Angeles Federal standard (1-hour average > 0.12 ppm)

250

(ppm)

Basin maximum (RHS)

0.50 0.45

200

0.40 0.35

150

0.30 0.25

100

0.20 0.15

50

0.10 0.05

0

0.00 1976

1979

1982

1985

1988

1991

1994

1997

2000

2003

Source: University of California, Los Angeles

But in 2003 air quality had begun to deteriorate once again

That said, 2003 was also the year when the region exceeded Stage 1 Smog Alerts for the first time since 1997 as air quality began to deteriorate once again. Los Angeles is still the city with the dirtiest air in the US. Experts attribute the poor quality to a continued rise in urban sprawl, vehicle usage, and not least of all, the popularity of sports utility vehicles (SUVs). Figure 52

Better but still a long way to go

Los Angeles smog – Circa 1950 (two left) and 2006 (right)

Source: www.aqmd.gov, www.freedigitalphotos.net

Of growing concern is the contribution of ports and to a lesser extent, trucks that require the use of many old forms of diesel engines. Creating fine particles that are particularly harmful to public health, these tend to be the most polluting engines still on the road in California. Indeed, studies suggest that NOx emissions from cargo ships in any one day equal the emissions from a million cars. The AQMD estimates that the vessels frequenting Los Angeles and Long Beach ports produce 49 tonnes of NOx daily, 33 tonnes of which comes from large cargo ships. Compared to the 246 million tonnes of NOx emissions from Los Angeles’ 8.4 million vehicles (approximately 29 tonnes per million cars), large ships exceed a million cars’ equivalent of NOx emissions daily. To address this problem, local port operators at the Ports of September 2006

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Hong Kong pollution

Los Angeles and Long Beach and environmental agencies have introduced reforms to improve port operating efficiency as well as credit programmes to help truck drivers in purchasing newer vehicles with cleaner emission systems. In the state’s latest move towards clean energy, on 21 August 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Solar Homes Bill. To become law on 1 January 2007, the plan is to invest US$3.2bn to fit one million rooftops with solar panels, which will generate 3,000 MW of additional green power per annum, by 2018. This will ‘reduce the output of greenhouse gasses by three million tonnes, which is like taking one million cars off the road’ commented Schwarzenegger. It also puts California back in the lead position in terms of world solar-power initiatives. Figure 53

California’s latest move towards clean energy

Governor Schwarzenegger completes the million-solar-rooftops plan

Hong Kong could do with taking a leaf out of California’s book Source: SCMP, 1 September 2006

Civil society took the pollution issue in hand

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Tokyo With Japan’s rapid industrialisation, pollution could be observed around every major city by the 1950s. Early on, civil society took charge. A famous episode involved the people of Yokkaichi (Honshu), who sued petrochemical businesses for their harmful emissions that had produced extensive respiratory disorders, collectively known as Yokkaichi Asthma.

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Section 3: Challenge for world cities

Hong Kong pollution

The Tokyo Municipal Government took the national lead . . .

The Tokyo Municipal Government took the lead by instituting groundbreaking measures to confront the city’s air pollution. In 1949, TMG launched the Tokyo Prefectural Ordinance for Factory Pollution Control, the first of its kind in Japan. Later in 1955, TMG implemented the Tokyo Prefectural Ordinance for Soot and Smoke Control. By 1969, it had established the Tokyo Pollution Control Ordinance, a reporting system allowing factories to alert the government of potentially harmful emissions and providing a conduit for the government to enforce environmental standards.

. . . and others followed

Motivated by Tokyo’s actions, other municipalities began pursuing regulatory measures. For example, in 1962, large cities, such as Tokyo and Osaka, as well as industrial areas, such as Yokkaichi, began implementing ambient air monitoring systems. By 2004, Japan’s air monitoring network included 1,487 stations measuring SO2, 1,880 for NO2, 1,193 for photochemical oxidants and 1,910 for PM. The Atmospheric Environmental Regional Observation System, or Soramame-kun, of 2001 posted these real-time monitoring findings online, providing further avenues for the community to proactively respond to deteriorating air conditions.

Businesses agreed to limit factory-to-factory emissions

Further advances in local government approaches towards industry development resulted in the emergence of voluntary agreements between local authorities and businesses, crafted specifically to the area’s needs - and often times, at much more stringent standards than those required by the national government. Local officials engaged businesses and citizens in discussions over industrial and environmental concerns. The end result would be businesses agreeing to limit factory-to-factory emissions.

Victims became more willing to prosecute polluters in the 1960s

Community activism led to important developments in court, and government treatment of pollution cases. As pollution victims became more willing to prosecute polluters during the 1960s, so did the number of successful judgments in their favour. Ultimately, these victories transformed the judicial, political and social landscapes in which polluters and victims operated. By 1970, the Supreme Court upheld a new principle dictating that the defendant (polluter) carried the burden of proof to establish there was no cause-andeffect relationship between its pollution and resultant health disorders. The government also implemented a unique Polluters Pay Principle (PPP), requiring polluters to compensate their victims for any damages they caused. Within the PPP system, the government set up a vast network of prefectural, municipal and national agencies - ultimately headed by the Environmental Disputes Coordination Commission - to act as both arbitrating body and science court. The mediating process was voluntary, non-binding and nonlitigious. For victims, it offered the advantage of a quick, simple and cheap way to settle disputes. For industries, the informal negotiations provided an expeditious, private manner to settle claims.

By 1970, government putting environmental protection above industrial development

Unlike the municipal authorities and community, the national government was slow in its response to pollution-related issues. While episodes of public harm due to pollution had been well known by the government since the Meiji Period, they tended to be treated by the state as collateral damage in Japan’s economic advance. Nevertheless, by 1970, the government began to place environmental protection above industrial development. The Diet of 1970, popularly known as the “Pollution Diet,” passed or amended 14 pieces of green legislation. In 1971, the government created the Environment Agency to centrally manage environmental issues. The same

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year, it also enacted new legislation calling on factories over a particular size to be monitored by qualified pollution controllers. Pollution controllers aided national and local government agencies in conducting environmental impact assessments (EIA), enforcing regulatory measures, and monitoring factory emissions. By 1984, the government made EIA a standard feature in approval of industrial projects while controls on the total volume and levels of automobile, NOx, and SOx emissions were enacted and tightened throughout the same decade. By the mid 1980s, Japan possessed an impressive network of pollution control measures. Figure 54

By the mid-80s, Japan possessed an impressive network of pollution control measures

History of national air pollution legislation Early 1960s

Air pollution in Yokkaichi City became an object of public concern

1968

Air Pollution Control Law enforced

1969

SO2 environmental standards set

1970

Photochemical smog occurred frequently

1974

Total volume control introduced for sulphur oxides (SOx)

1978

Automobile emissions control introduced

1978

NO2 environmental standards revised

1981

Total volume control introduced for nitrogen oxides (NOx)

1992

The Automobile NOx Law enforced

2001

The Automobile NOx Law revised to control particulate matter (the Automobile NOx and PM Law)

Source: Civic Exchange

Rising oil prices saw Japan encouraging energy-saving . . .

Faced with rising oil prices in the 1970s, Japan also began encouraging energy-saving actions and investments as well as fuel diversification. Japan passed the Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy, providing detailed principles for building standards and energy-saving machinery. Financially centred policies and preferential tax treatments formed the basis for much of this government policy towards industrial energy conservation. Firms were provided long-term, low-interest loans through government financial bodies, such as the Japan Development Bank. They could also qualify for tax exemptions and accelerated depreciation of energy-saving investments.

Figure 55

Figure 56

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and . . .

. . . sulphur dioxide (SO2 ) emissions

0.05

Concentration (ppm) Nitrogen dioxide Nitrogen monoxicle

0.04 0.03 0.02 0.01 0.00 70

73

76

79

82

85

88

91

94

97

00

03

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

. . . as well as fuel diversification

50

A push towards fuel diversification benefited industry’s choice of fuel mix for power production, with moves towards desulphurisation of fuels and greater use of nuclear, LNG and other less polluting sources. Indeed, the creation of

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the New Energy Development Organization supported the development of renewable sources. Ultimately, this combination of regulatory enforcement and technological investment increased both productivity and profit while also accounting for a considerable drop in harmful emissions. By 2002, annual mean concentrations of NOx emissions were one-third those of 1970, SOx emissions were less than a quarter those of 1970 and CO2 emissions decreased so much that Japan now counts itself one of the lowest among industrialised countries. In 2000, Tokyo still grappling with car emissions

While by 2000, Tokyo’s air quality had improved significantly, it still had to grapple with pollution from lifestyle practices – not least, those resulting from automobile emissions. TMG’s proposal, ‘six challenges to create a sustainable city and planet,’ provides innovative approaches to this problem: 1) The proposal expanded its CO2 scope to include commercial sources, which make up nearly 23% of Tokyo emissions. In 2002, the Emissions Management Programme required ‘large commercial and industrial users of energy create comprehensive plans, including emissions inventories, voluntary reduction goals, and measures to achieve those goals, and to publish those plans in a timely manner.’ The TMG will investigate the potential of setting mandatory reduction goals as part of the Emissions Management Program. 2) The Green Building Programme requires new buildings in excess of 10,000 square metres to undergo environmental performance assessments during the permit process.

TMG’s six innovative approaches to creating a sustainable city, planet

3) In order to combat CO2 emissions from residential sources, which total 23% of all emissions in Tokyo, the TMG created its own energy-efficiency label to be distributed to participating electronics stores to increase consumer awareness. 4) Likewise, the fight continues with vehicles, especially those with diesel engines. 5) The TMG is promoting the development of renewable energy supplies. These efforts include the installation of two wind turbines on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, construction of a hydrogen station near Tokyo Bay, and initiation of a fuel-cell bus pilot project in 2003. 6) Recognising that Tokyo is suffering from an urban heat island effect, the TMG has adopted aggressive monitoring and pilot projects. These actions include encouraging buildings to increase rooftop and surface greenery along with improving ground permeability. In the process, the TMG hopes energy consumption will fall.

Tokyo’s local government forged ahead of an unresponsive national government

September 2006

Recognising the damage arising from poorly regulated PM emissions, the TMG boldly forged ahead of an unresponsive national government and dealt directly with diesel vehicles. In 2000, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly passed the nation’s first initiative regulating diesel vehicles. A series of partnerships with neighbouring prefectures and cities to locally regulate diesel-engine use followed this move. When faced with a lack of low-sulphur fuel, TMG partnered with the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) to make the product readily available in the market. Likewise, when encountering a dearth in cleaner technological alternatives to diesel engines, TMG allied with the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) to increase investment and production in cleaner-burning engines. In addition, the TMG helped to develop and distribute diesel-particulate filters (DPF) and oxidation catalyst devices. cloh@civic-exchange.org

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Section 4: Cleaning up Hong Kong

Christine Loh CEO, Civic Exchange cloh@civic-exchange.org

Hong Kong pollution

Cleaning up Hong Kong Up to a year ago [pollution] hadn't hit our pocket-book. But now people are not coming to Hong Kong to take that job because their kid has asthma. Victor Fung Chairman of the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council, Li & Fung, August 2006

Hong Kong must acknowledge that it has a problem

In order to address an issue one first has to acknowledge there is a problem. And this is where Hong Kong must begin to ensure the most effective cleanup. Such acknowledgement requires the adoption of global standards; the incorporation of Guangdong measurements and highlighting where the specific risks lie rather than resorting to meaningless averages. However, while history tells us that the government plays a crucial role in mandating and enforcing change in terms of climate-related issues, businesses must heed Victor Fung’s comments and look after their own pocket-books. Going “green” increasingly makes sense from the perspective of good corporate citizenry and the bottom line.

Government and the business community must act in unison

The following should be Hong Kong’s near-term priorities if it is to proactively tackle this issue, although the list is by no means exhaustive: !

Release full real-time regional air pollution data via the regional monitoring system between Hong Kong and Guangdong instead of an aggregate regional API.

!

Focus on the total true cost of not acting quickly rather than just on the economic costs of introducing tougher controls.

!

Develop a comprehensive Hong Kong energy policy that sets clear goals on the optimal fuel mix for its electricity generators.

!

Create a solid regional air management structure that sets China’s national pace to improve air quality management.

!

Explore short-term wins by using cleaner fuels in manufacturing across the border, particularly with Shenzhen and Dongguan.

!

Clean up shipping, port and logistics operations in Hong Kong and Shenzhen as these witness greater port export related activity than elsewhere in the world.

!

Expand rail/subway networks ahead of investments in more roads.

Hong Kong’s air quality strategy Hong Kong, Guangdong to reduce emission of the four major air pollutants on a best-effort basis

To improve air quality, the Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities agreed in April 2002 to reduce, on a best-effort basis, the emission of the four major air pollutants, namely SO2, NOX, PM10 and VOC by 40%, 20%, 55% and 55% by 2010, using 1997 as the base year. Figure 57

Hong Kong’s progress report Emission level 1997 (tonnes) SO2 64,500 NOX 110,000 PM10 11,200 VOC 54,400

Emission level 2004 (tonnes) 94,800 92,500 8,040 41,900

Changes 1997-2004 (%) 47 (16) (28) (23)

Reduction target 2010 (%) (40) (20) (55) (55)

Source: HKSAR Government

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Hong Kong pollution

What efforts has Hong Kong made? Air quality improvement measures are designed to meet these targets

If these targets are met, the government believes Hong Kong will meet its current AQO. Air quality improvement measures in Hong Kong are designed to meet these targets. For Hong Kong, electricity generation is the biggest source of air pollution (92% of SO2, 50% of NOx and 50% of PM10). The discussion about the power sector’s emission reductions are difficult as they are taking place at a time when Hong Kong does not have a comprehensive energy policy, and when the Scheme of Control Agreements with CLP Power and Hongkong Electric (HEC) to supply electricity are being renegotiated (they expire in 2008).

All generating units built after 1997 are powered by cleaner LNG

Coal, LNG and emissions trading A further complication is that 46% of Hong Kong’s primary energy need comes from coal. Coal makes up 39% of CLP’s fuel consumption and 100% of Hongkong Electric’s, until later this year when 15% of its fuel will be LNG. All generating units built after 1997 are powered by LNG as this is a cleaner fuel. Both power companies have phased retrofit plans (flue gas desulphurisation and catalytic reduction) to lower emissions further between now and 2010 although the government states these measures will not be enough for Hong Kong to meet its emissions targets. The authorities have said publicly that the utilities should source lower-sulphur coal, and use natural gas ‘as much as possible’.

Hong Kong Government has not expressed its view on transit out of coal

However, the Hong Kong Government has not expressed its own view about the extent to which the utilities should transit out of coal in the longer term. Nor what it regards as an optimal fuel mix that will serve Hong Kong’s longerterm interest from the point of view of energy diversity and security, as well as environmental protection, since all of the city’s fuel is imported. Moreover, CLP has also been the target of criticism by the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau for selling access power to Shenzhen, which has regular power shortages. While on the one hand, the government’s permission is required before the utility can sell its access power (and permission had been granted by the Economic Development and Labour Bureau), much of which, in effect, powers Hong Kong’s businesses across the border, on the other, the government is putting pressure on CLP in the public arena to ‘reduce power supply’ to the mainland. Thus, there seems to be conflicting policies at play and the relative benefits and drawbacks of Hong Kong supplying relatively cleaner power to its neighbour has not been openly discussed. The public debate often centres on whether CLP should be allowed to make more money on its spare generating capacity.

CLP must secure alternative supplies from around 2010

Within this complex picture is also the issue of CLP’s application to build a LNG receiving terminal in Hong Kong because the Yacheng gas field from which it feeds the Black Point power plant is running out faster than expected. CLP must therefore secure alternative supplies from around 2010. Also, negotiations with the two utilities of the terms for the renewal of their Scheme of Control agreements add another dimension to this picture. And, as if things were not complex enough, officials have proposed emissions trading ‘as an optional measure for CLP and HEC to achieve their 2010 reduction targets’. The government says it is facilitating discussions to set up ‘an emissions trading pilot scheme between the power plants in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong pollution

and the PRD area’ but it has not yet released much information, although the Hong Kong authorities said in July 2006: ‘Subject to agreement of the two governments, details will be presented to the power plants in Hong Kong and Guangdong in the third quarter of 2006 so that prospective participants can identify their trading partners and draw up emissions trading agreements.’ In summary, gauging how policy may develop is difficult as there has been no coherent and comprehensive statement from the Hong Kong government of an energy policy that will best serve Hong Kong’s longer-term interest and the rationale upon which it is based.

The government has been working hard to reduce vehicle emissions, VOCs

Controlling vehicular emissions and fuels, and reducing VOCs Since 1999, the Hong Kong Government has worked hard to reduce emissions from local vehicles, as well as VOCs. Its efforts included: a)

Subsidising owners to replace diesel taxis with LPG taxis. This programme was completed in 2003.

b) Subsidising mini-bus owners to replace diesel light buses with LPG or electric buses. Since 2002, more than 75% of vehicles have switched to using LPG. c)

Introducing ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD) to Hong Kong and keeping the duty down to ensure widespread usage, as well as tightening petrol standards (EURO IV motor petrol) with effect from 2005.

d) Requiring pre-Euro diesel vehicles (eg commercial trucks and buses) to install catalytic converters and particulate traps since 2003. e)

Requiring new vehicles to meet Euro III emissions standards from 2001 and from 2006 new vehicles will have to meet Euro IV emissions standards.

f)

Improving vehicle testing and increasing the penalty for smoky vehicles from HK$450 to HK$1,000.

g) Requiring installation of vapour-recovery systems for vehicle refuelling at petrol stations from March 2005. h) Reducing VOC emissions from printing, paints and consumer products in phases with effect from 2007. Lower NOX and PM10 readings but overall situation has worsened

These measures have reduced NOX and PM10 readings at roadside stations by 17% and 14% since 1999 but the overall situation has, in fact, worsened. PM10 levels today are about 15% higher and O3 has increased by about 26% from 1999 and Hong Kong’s lax AQOs are frequently exceeded.

Other measures still needed Authorities must target a wider range of measures

Hong Kong’s roadside pollution is a major problem and associated public health risks are high. In order to better protect the public, the authorities need to go beyond controlling tailpipe vehicular emissions and target a wider range of measures, including: ! Turning Hong Kong AQOs into AQSs with statutory backing so that the standards must be met over a stated period of time, including having a standard for PM2.5 and not just PM10.

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September 2006


Section 4: Cleaning up Hong Kong

Hong Kong pollution

! Forming a clear and comprehensive energy policy so that Hong Kong can better promote energy efficiency, energy conservation, cleaner energy usage, environmental protection and public health, as well as reduce the climatic impact. ! Subsidising the 40,000 pre-Euro diesel vehicles to be replaced with new ones since the maximum emissions benefit can best be reaped by combining cleaner engines with cleaner ULSD. ! Using urban planning and design regulation to reduce the prevalent “street canyon” effect, particularly in new development areas (such as Tamar-Central, West Kowloon, South East Kowloon etc). ! Implementing the existing rail-led transport policy by giving priority to expanding the rail/underground systems rather than continuing to give priority to building roads. ! Ensuring marine emissions and port and logistics operations at Kwai Chung are properly controlled to reduce air pollution.

Help from Guangdong Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan a major step

Regional air monitoring network The most significant collaborative effort between Hong Kong and Guangdong was the implementation of the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan during 2005. The regional air quality monitoring network and the Regional Air Quality Index must be quickly built up so that real-time online data for the concentration levels of each pollutant are publicly released, which will allow Hong Kong and Guangdong to have much more meaningful discussions about control measures across the region together with public input. Vehicles, power plants and factories Guangdong’s programme follows a well-trodden path, which includes: a)

Tightened vehicular emission standards equivalent to Euro II with effect from July 2005 and trying to advance to Euro III.

b) Reducing sulphur content of motor diesel. c)

Closing down smaller and highly polluting power plants.

d) Retrofitting various power plants in phases to reduce emissions.

With renewed national emphasis on pollution, Guangdong is in enforcing the law more vigorously

September 2006

e)

Phasing out coal-fired boilers, industrial boilers and energy inefficient equipment.

f)

Increasing use of LNG in the future.

With rising power demand in Guangdong, small, highly polluting power plants were not closed. Furthermore, with world oil prices rising since 2003, many factories have had to burn all types of fuel, including coal, to keep private power generators going, thereby causing high levels of pollution – which reached a peak in 2004. Thus, despite having a stated programme in place, air pollution has remained extremely bad. However, with renewed national emphasis in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2005-2010) to deal with pollution, there are signs since April 2006 that Guangdong is being more vigorous in enforcing the law to require factories to clean up or close down. Recent news reports show that the authorities are forcing dirty factories to close.

cloh@civic-exchange.org

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Hong Kong pollution

Section 4: Cleaning up Hong Kong

Authorities must explore radical short- and longerterm measures

Other potential measures In view of the severity of the air quality problem, the Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities should explore radical short- and longer-term measures that can bear fruit in the next few years, including: ! Allowing and facilitating the use of cleaner fuels to power private generators in the manufacturing sector in the short term. ! Cleaning up the shipping-port-logistics sectors so as to lower emissions arising from the Hong Kong-Shenzhen port and logistics activities. ! Expediting the reduction/lifting of state-controlled prices for fuels in Guangdong. ! Assessing whether there are net environmental benefits in allowing the Hong Kong power utilities to sell relatively cleaner access power to Guangdong in the near term. Guangdong’s energy picture is likely to be quite different by 2020 as more new power plants come on stream and as it expands its transmission infrastructure. However, in the foreseeable future, there will still be frequent power shortages and the continued reliance on using various types of fuels to power onsite generators by the manufacturing sector, which will continue to create serious pollution especially if oil prices remain high within the context of China’s price control environment.

In the short term, there may well be net air quality gains

In the short term, where Hong Kong can supply relatively cleaner power to its neighbour, there may well be net air quality gains, which the Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities should determine for the region’s overall benefit. Furthermore, if an appropriate administrative way could be found for the export manufacturing sector to import cleaner fuel for powering the private generators, there will be an immediate lowering of emissions. A good example of the benefits could be seen from Hong Kong’s banning of industrial high-sulphur fuel in 1990, which reduced SO2 levels immediately. Figure 58

Immediate lowering of emissions

Beneficial effects of cleaner fuel PM 10 NO 2 SO 2 O3

(Micrograms per cubicmetre) 80

Fuel restriction on sulphur

60 50% reduction in SO 2 after the interventaion

40

20 No change in other pollutants 0 1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Source: Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, HKU

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September 2006


Hong Kong pollution

Section 4: Cleaning up Hong Kong

Consequence of failure to act quickly, aggressively Impact on Hong Kong’s attractiveness as a place to visit, live and work

The consequences of not taking quick, resolute and effective measures locally and regionally to reduce air pollution are grave. Figures 59 and 60 show the projected paths for NO2 and PM10 if the trends are not reversed. The concentrations of these pollutants will exceed Hong Kong AQO even more in the years to come, which will impact public health as well as Hong Kong’s attractiveness as a place to visit, live and work.

Figure 59

Figure 60

Projected NO2 and air quality standards

Projected PM10 and air quality standards

0.14

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.10

y = 0.0011x + 0.051

0.12

2

R = 0.5174

0.10

y = 0.0004x + 0.054

0.08

R2 = 0.0986

0.07 0.06

0.08 1Y HKAQO

0.06

0.05

1Y HKAQO

0.04 0.03

0.04 1Y WHO GAQG 0.02

0.02 1Y WHO GAQG

0.01

0.00 1994

Annual mean concentration (mg/m³)

0.09

0.00 2002

2010

2018

2026

2034

2042

2050

1994

2002

2010

2018

2026

2034

2042

2050

Source: Civic Exchange and HKUST

Hong Kong, Guangdong focus on the true cost of not acting quickly

September 2006

Instead of focusing only on the economic costs for introducing new measures, the Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities need to adjust their mindsets to see the true costs of not acting quickly. Furthermore, they should view the upgrade of manufacturing, power generation and transport to be more energy efficient and less polluting as a way to make the region more competitive rather than as an unwelcome cost. It will also be a positive response to China’s national desire to create an energy-efficient, high-productivity economy in the longer term. Indeed, there is every reason for Hong KongGuangdong to lead the pace.

cloh@civic-exchange.org

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References

Hong Kong pollution

References Section 1: The air that we breathe

WHO (2000). WHO Air Quality Guidelines for Europe, 2000, 2nd Edition. WHO (2005). WHO air quality guidelines: Global Update 2005. Report on a Working Group meeting, Bonn, Germany, 18-20 October 2005. The Department of Community Medicine, University of Hong Kong; The Institute for the Environment, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology; Department of Community and Family Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Civic Exchange (2006). Air Pollution: costs and paths to a solution, June 2006, www.civic-exchange.org/publications/2006/VisibilityandHealthE.pdf

Section 2: The cost of air pollution

Civic Exchange, Taking Charge and Cleaning Up: The search for a greener environment in the Hong Kong SAR, December 2001. Steven Knipp, Hong Kong fades under China’s smog, Christian Science Monitor, 23 December 2004. Staff Writers, Hong Kong Pollution Leaves Tourists Choking, AFP Hong Kong, 20 March 2006.

Section 3: Challenge for world cities

Beevers, Sean D., Carslaw, David C. ‘The impact of congestion charging on vehicle emissions in London.’ Environmental Research Group. King’s College. 6 October 2004. Fukushima, Hirokazu. ‘Air Pollution Monitoring in East Asia: Japan’s Role as an Environmentally Advanced Asian Country.’ Science and Technology Trends, Quarterly Review No. 18, January 2006. p54-64. ‘Great London Smog.’ Encyclopaedia of Atmospheric Environment. 2000. Atmosphere, Climate, and Environment Information Programme. 19 June 2006. http://www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/eae/Air_Quality/Older/Great_London_Smog.html Litman, Todd. ‘London Congestion Pricing: Implications for Other Cities.’ Victoria Transport Policy Institute. 10 January 2006. ‘Local and Private Sector Initiatives with Global Environmental Benefits: Lessons from Japanese Experience.’ Development Bank of Japan. 16 June 2006. http://www.dbj.go.jp/english/IC/experty/pdf/caselocal.pdf ‘Restore Clean Air in Tokyo!’ Tokyo Municipal Government Online. 19 June 2006. http://www2.kankyo.metro.tokyo.jp/jidousya/six-result/honpen/pdf-eg/all-eg.pdf ‘Six Challenges to Create a Sustainable City and Planet.’ Stop Global Warming from Tokyo. Tokyo Municipal Government Online. 16 June 2006. http://www2.kankyo.metro.tokyo.jp/English/basicpolicy.htm ‘The London Smog Disaster of 1952.’ Edinburgh Medical School. 19 June 2006. http://www.portfolio.mvm.ed.ac.uk/studentwebs/session4/27/greatsmog52.htm ‘Toxic Air: How ports contribute to pollution in the L.A. Basin.’ Long Beach PressTelegram. 19 June 2006. http://lang.presstelegram.com/projects/toxicair/displayarticle.asp?part=1&article =art02_history

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Hong Kong pollution

Author biographies Tim Flannery A writer, scientist and explorer, Tim Flannery was Principal Research Scientist in Mammalogy at the Australian Museum in Sydney from 1984-1999. A leading thinker in environmental science, Flannery is director of the South Australian Museum and chairman of both State Science Council and Sustainability Roundtable. He is also the National Geographic Society’s Australasian representative. His award-winning books include The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands & People (1994) and Tree-Kangaroos: A Curious Natural History (1996). Flannery’s groundbreaking book on global warming, The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change, was published in Australia in October 2005. It is to be released in more than 20 countries in 2006 and has played a key role in international discussion of the issue.

Christine Loh Christine Loh is the CEO of Civic Exchange, an independent, non-profit, public policy think tank established in Hong Kong. Its mission is to undertake research and development in economic, social and political policy as well as practice in order to help shape the breadth and depth of the public policy debate. Civic Exchange advocates and advances policies which are sustainable, resilient, non-violent, economically efficient, just, participatory, appropriate locally, and spiritually rewarding. Civic Exchange has various continuing studies and projects related to regional air quality management. In particular, it is exploring how the manufacturing industries in the Pearl River Delta can switch to using cleaner fuels on a voluntary programme in order to reduce emissions and improve air quality in Hong Kong and Guangdong.

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Boomtown to gloomtown The implications of inaction  

Introduction by Rob Morrison ..........................................................11 Foreword by Tim Flannery ...........................

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