DATE: 17 May 2013 FILED UNDER: Environment, Issues, News, Newspaper Column, Publications TAG: lands, reclamation, scmp
(By Wilson Lau, research and project officer) Passions were running high last Saturday as government officials met the public for the second stage of consultation on reclamation in Hong Kong waters.
What does the word “temporary” mean to you? In the case of the small-house policy, it means 40 years and more. It was first introduced in Hong Kong as a temporary measure to address housing needs of indigenous villagers in the New Territories. Today, it has been criticised as unsustainable and outdated. (more…)
(By Carine Lai, project manager) While recent proposals by the Environment Bureau to control vehicles’ exhaust fumes have received much attention, it is also worth highlighting the role urban planning can play in reducing roadside air pollution. The “street canyon effect” can be reduced by improving ventilation, cutting vehicle use, reducing pedestrian exposure and mitigating pollutants.
The bureau’s master plan to improve our air quality mentions three urban planning policies: urban greening, pedestrian schemes and cycling networks. Yet, on closer examination, these policies are missing some key elements and are unlikely to have a major impact. (more…)
HONG KONG: Thursday, 28 March 2013 – Civic Exchange welcomes the joint announcement of “A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong” (the Plan) by the Environment Bureau, the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Development Bureau, and the Food and Hygiene Bureau today.
After over a decade of under-achievements and broken promises on air quality improvement, the Government finally rolls out a plan to energise new efforts to right the wrongs. This is long overdue, but a much welcomed approach. The Plan is a demonstration of the current administration’s commitment to deliver clean air to Hong Kong people and to protect public health. (more…)
(Simon Ng, Head of transport and sustainability research) – Last Saturday, the 294-metre, 91,000-gross-tonne Celebrity Millennium became the first cruise ship to berth at the new Kai Tak terminal in a rehearsal, three months prior to the grand opening of the facilities.
Another 16 calls are scheduled before the end of April next year, including some of the world’s most popular cruise ships. Tens of thousands of passengers will grace the state-of-the-art terminal, as well as the city’s many famous attractions and shopping and dining areas.
This is a milestone for Hong Kong as a regional cruise hub, potentially bringing considerable direct and indirect benefits to the economy.
Yet, because of the filthy, high-sulphur bunker fuel these gigantic cruise ships are known to be burning, at locations virtually at the heart of the city and close to Hong Kong’s population centres and commercial districts, environmental groups have been vocal in recent months about cruise ship emissions and the adverse impact on public health. They have been asking the cruise ships to clean up, exactly what is happening in the United States and Europe under mandatory requirements. Hong Kong has been lenient in the past, but not any more.
Judging by their reaction, the cruise industry and the government agencies overseeing the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal were taken by surprise. Some argued that container vessels are the main culprit among ocean-going vessels when it comes to the emission of air pollutants, and wondered why environmental groups were pointing the finger at cruise ships. By saying this, they missed the point that, after container vessels, cruise ships are the most polluting, and the public now expect the business sector to take responsibility for the impact of their business.
Some others even claimed they were not in the business of delivering clean air or addressing environmental issues. Surprise, surprise!
The biggest surprise, though, comes from the failure of this sector to recognise the good work done by their peers. For example, some local cruise ships are already burning low-sulphur fuel while at berth in Hong Kong, even without regulation. A couple of international cruise companies were also among the inaugural signatories of the Fair Winds Charter in 2011, having pledged to voluntarily switch to cleaner, but more expensive, fuel while berthing.
Indeed, switching fuel at berth is a common and proven control measure to cut ship emissions. A recent report estimated that if the 16 cruise ships would switch to fuel with 0.5 per cent sulphur content while berthing at Kai Tak, at-berth emissions of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter would be reduced by 83 per cent and 78 per cent, respectively.
Alternatively, on-shore power is an option at Kai Tak, but unfortunately little progress has been made. Space has been reserved for the power supply facilities. The government committed in the policy address to secure funding for the installation. An international standard for the on-shore power system was published last year.
There is a pressing need to clean up the shipping sector, and the industry is very supportive. What is the missing link? Perhaps a nod from the landlord will connect the dots.
DATE: 7 May 2013 FILED UNDER: Environment, Events, Events, Highlights, Issues, Latest Events, News, Social
In support of the Second United Nations Global Road Safety Week focused on ‘pedestrian safety’, Civic Exchange, Community for Road Safety and Designing Hong Kong will co-host a full day event entitled Walkable City, Living Streets. Three main themes of conferences, ‘Pedestrian Network Planning’, ‘Pedestrian Safety’ and ‘Streets as Public Space’, will be given and followed by a panel discussion on integrating the three themes in urban and transport planning in Hong Kong. (more…)
DATE: 5 Mar 2013 FILED UNDER: Environment, Highlights, Index_Publications, Issues, News, Press Releases, Publications, Research Reports
Civic Exchange’s report Cruise Ship Emissions and Control in Hong Kong aims to provide timely information regarding cruise ship emissions in Hong Kong for thorough discussions between the government, business sectors and the general public on the issues, before the opening of Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in June this year. Emission estimates for cruise ships to be using Kai Tak Cruise Terminal are produced. Recommendations to control emissions are also provided in the report.
(By Amber Marie Beard, Senior Project Manager) – “Ninety per cent of the electricity consumed in Hong Kong is used in buildings, and this consumption accounts for 60 per cent of Hong Kong’s greenhouse gas emissions.” How many times have we heard this statement in the past few years? It’s no secret that Hong Kong’s buildings are the primary source for energy and greenhouse-gas emissions, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that green buildings are the key to radical transformation of that statistic. So will somebody please tell me why there was merely an obligatory nod of acknowledgement in the recent policy address?
As a “world class” city, Hong Kong should be setting green building standards for other global cities. As an example, Singapore is enacting regulation this year requiring all buildings to get a minimum green certification when a new or replacement cooling system is installed. At the very least, Hong Kong could take a more aggressive approach to reducing energy and greenhouse-gas emissions in existing buildings. A few years ago, there was great support for retrofitting existing buildings, both from the government and the building industry. What happened to that momentum?
Currently, Hong Kong is engaged in a debate on the energy fuel mix as we seek to reduce our greenhouse emissions by 19-33 per cent from 2005 levels, to be in line with China’s reduction in carbon intensity targets for 2020. In addition to looking at the supply side of the equation, the demand side – namely, buildings – cannot be ignored. (more…)