(Bryan Suen, Research and Project Officer) – Starting this month, the service life span of all newly registered diesel commercial vehicles is limited to just 15 years. Coupled with its plan to phase out older diesel vehicles, the government is determined and committed to improve roadside air quality.
This policy is part of a raft of incentives to tackle roadside emissions and protect public health. The ex gratia payment scheme to phase out pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles starts on March 1, and will see more than 80,000 such vehicles off our roads by 2020. Together with the catalytic converter replacement scheme for LPG vehicles and the introduction of a new air quality health index, the plan underlines the government’s commendable determination to improve Hong Kong’s air quality. (more…)
(Wilson Lau, Research & Project Officer) – Country park enclaves were a big issue last year. Some 54 pockets lacking a specific land-use classification were being assessed by the government. In this year’s policy address, the chief executive said it would seek to better protect ecologically important sites in private ownership through two measures: the management agreement scheme that enables approved non-governmental organisations to partner landowners in conserving the sites, and public-private partnerships. (more…)
Hong Kong 13 February 2014 – Civic Exchange commends the shipping industry for extending the Fair Winds Charter to the end of 2014. This is a welcoming move from the industry, showing once again how committed they are in reducing ship emissions in Hong Kong, supporting government legislation for at-berth fuel switching, and promoting similar practices and regulations across the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. (more…)
(Su Liu, Head of Greater China and water policy research) – In his policy address last week, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying made it clear that “Hong Kong needs sustained economic growth to address issues such as poverty, housing, an ageing society, environmental protection and the upward mobility of our young people”. Sound familiar? Yes, it is an elaboration of Deng Xiaoping’s famous saying, “Development is an absolute principle”.
Did Leung mean that “sustained economic growth” is the magic pill to solve Hong Kong’s problems? Or was he trying to say that we should seek economic development in a sustainable manner?
Sustained economic growth means achieving growth at any cost; while sustainable development means that at times there may appear to be no growth, but in the long term, growth is sustainable.
Even if economic growth were the sole objective, the policy address missed some fundamental factors enabling such growth. Water is one of them. By
The “total water management” strategy launched in 2008 governs Hong Kong’s water resources management. Ideally, such a strategy would ensure Hong Kong can manage its water in a closed loop.
This loop consists of two halves: the supply of clean water, which is managed by the Water Supplies Department, and the handling of waste water, which is the responsibility of the Drainage Services Department. “Closing the water loop” means considering the two halves as a whole; waste water is a potential resource that can be purified and reused.
Currently, however, the two halves are separate. The water management strategy is driven by the Water Supplies Department, and while it has proposed many initiatives regarding our water supply, it does not fully deal with the other half.
The department believes that “given its geography and population, Hong Kong cannot acquire all of its water resources locally to support growth”. Therefore, we must rely on the mainland for most of our water supplies. It has barely explored the possibilities of reclaiming and recycling water.
Such a structure creates the false luxury of being able to waste precious resources. This is evident in our spillage management and flood control operations. In 2013, total spillage from Hong Kong reservoirs reached 40 million cubic metres. This means that rainwater is being deliberately discharged from our reservoirs to make room for purchased water from Dongjiang. Also last year, a further 1.1 million cubic metres of rainwater was discharged from the drainage department’s flood storage tanks in two locations.
The added sum does not even reflect the full amount; it excludes rainwater that is captured from the hills through three storm-water drainage tunnel
Leung has promised to review our total water management strategy; however, without an overall vision for Hong Kong beyond 2047, this review cannot be meaningful. Hong Kong must consider a water strategy that is capable of closing the loop.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Civic Exchange’s responses to the 2014 Policy Address
HONG KONG: Wednesday, 15 January 2014 – Civic Exchange would like to comment on various initiatives proposed by the Chief Executive in the 2014 Policy Address, including air quality management, nature conservation, urban liveability, people with disabilities, and women’s issues. Despite significant steps in the right direction, there were missed opportunities and areas where Civic Exchange would like to express major reservations. (more…)
When compared with Singapore, what’s missing in Hong Kong’s water policy is not water resources, but a long-term vision and determination to become a more responsible and self-reliant city. Why? (more…)