Author: John Lee, Antonio Da Roza

Originally: Ir Iain Seymour-Hart (published by Civic Exchange)Civic Exchange logo

Date: 8/8/10

Originally: October 2007

A set of measures aimed at alleviating air pollution caused by road vehicles

An effective system should be put in place to ban the use of poorly maintained vehicles.

Vehicle maintenance should be carried out by licensed mechanics/technicians. Measures are needed to ensure compliance with these maintenance criteria. Garages should be properly registered with qualified technicians, appropriate equipment, etc.

A vehicle-related emissions data collection & management system, including mechanics’ licensing and garage registration schemes is needed. Data could be analyzed to produce a profile of the emissions created by the various types of vehicle, as well as to flag-up inadequately maintained vehicles.

In respect of enforcement of existing regulations and tightening of future regulations, regulations can only be as good as the enforcement mechanisms put in place – hence, there is always a need to explore ways of maximizing the enforcement of current regulations.

The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers needs to create an Automotive Engineering Group (AEG), a forum for experts to identify and discuss areas of concern. The introduction of an AEG is currently being explored.

Funding for the Vehicle Testing (Research and Development) and Emissions Centre needs to be unfrozen for architectural work to recommence. The Centre will train good quality graduates in key specialist areas. The Centre is a shared resource between the Department of Automotive Engineering and local technological universities.

Public education – a change in the mindset of the public is urgently needed. Businesses, teachers, students, drivers need to be educated to encourage stronger empathy for environmental protection.

Controls on the quality of maintenance need to be applied across all vehicles, including commercial vehicles. The average age of the vehicle fleet needs to be kept as low as possible to ensure that the community gains the intended benefits from the most recent vehicle technologies.

Aggressive driving (rapid acceleration, speeding and rough braking) should be discouraged - instead eco-driving that lowers operating costs and reduces exhaust emissions should be encouraged.

Commercial transport drivers should be carefully selected, monitored and trained as it is critically important that commercial transport companies employ drivers who are suitable to becoming good drivers.

It must be ensured that diesel vehicles only use high quality ultra low diesel fuel readily available in Hong Kong. Methods need to be employed to neutralize any financial gains presently enjoyed by drivers using poor quality, high sulphur fuel.

Light buses, vans and privately owned gasoline vehicles should be converted to run on Liquid Petroleum Gas.

The blending of bio-fuels with fossil fuels should be actively promoted. Furthermore, the use of hybrid and electric vehicles should be encouraged by providing financial incentives.

More frequent emissions checks for all vehicles should be introduced to ensure that they continue to meet standards over the service life of the vehicle.

Vehicle manufacturers should be required to make all repair manuals openly available so that small and medium sized repairers can achieve a better level of quality when servicing/repairing vehicles.

Car and taxi sharing should be encouraged to reduce both traffic congestion and pollution. Moreover, diesel buses should be replaced by hybrid buses or modern trolley buses.

Older vehicles need to be modified to upgrade all technical specifications.

Low priced or subsidized car parking should be made available near suburban MTR, bus and ferry stations to encourage rivers to use mass transport.

Severe penalties should be applied to penalize drivers who idle their engines for excessive periods of time.

Road planning systems can be put in place to control traffic congestion – stationary vehicles waste 100% of their fuel, while slow moving vehicles suffer low fuel efficiency.

There should be wider application of pedestrianisation in busy urban shopping areas.

The smoky vehicle spotter programme should be expanded and penalties against polluters increased.

A set of Best Practices needs to be developed by the Government so that vehicle operators adopt these practices to become more environmentally responsible persons.

Concluding remarks

There is no such thing as an “environmentally friendly internal combustion engine”, because all these engines suck in large amounts of air and exhaust larger and much hotter amounts of gaseous substances which are harmful to our environment. Hybrid vehicle takes us closer to the prospect of a viable all-electric vehicle, but that is only a first step towards this goal.

However, we have no choice but to quickly mend our ways – we all must breathe the air which is badly polluted, and evidence that global warming is being accelerated by human activity is overwhelming.


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