Hon KP Chan on Motion on Formulating Strategies on Development of Low Carbon Traffic and Transport System
• Studies reveal that greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong rose from 35.3 million metric tons in 1990 to 42.0 million metric tons or per capita discharge rate of 6 tons in 2008. It is essential for Hong Kong to promote low carbon living mode with a view to reducing impacts on the climate.
• As the second largest source of discharge, transport has plenty of rooms for reduction. Firstly, bus routes may be rearranged. In Hong Kong, bus transport is well developed. With community development and expanding railway network, duplication of services has become apparent and unnecessarily worsened gas emissions. In daily rush hours, major traffic corridors are packed with buses and they account for 40 percent of the flow. Yet, not all of these buses are full. Bus queues are uneconomical and polluting as well as creating traffic jams.
• However, consultations on rearrangement of bus routes with insufficient patronage are often met with strong resistance from District Councils. From 2007 to 2009, the Government proposed to cancel 24 routes and reduce services of 81 others. District Councils opposed to 59 of these proposals. It is understandable that District Councils are duty-bound to defend the interest of their communities and thus raised objections. Yet, District Councils should take into account the broader interest of the territory as well. Many people might have to walk another street block to catch buses following rearrangement of routes. For the benefit of a healthy Earth and our next generation, I do not think they would mind as long as there are good reasons for changes.
• At the beginning of last year, there were 370 pre-Euro buses and 1,300 Euro I buses and many are still running on the roads. They are high in greenhouse gas emissions and should be replaced at the earliest with Government aids. Meanwhile, the Government is studying retro-fitting 2,600 Euro II and 1,257 Euro III buses with selected catalyst reduction devices. In my view, the Government should replace or refit these high-discharge bus models with a view to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
• On the other hand, the Government launched a three-year subsidy programme of up to $3.2 billion in 2007 to encourage replacement of pre-Euro and Euro I commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful with 36,000 pre-Euro and Euro I vehicles still running on the road upon expiry. Last year, the Government launched another subsidy scheme for replacement of Euro II diesel commercial vehicle but the budget was only $540 million.
• All along, I have been very supportive of schemes to replace old model commercial vehicles and have repeatedly asked the Government for refinements. For instance, the amount might be increased and its coverage might be extended to scrapping old vehicles. Their sole purpose was to remove these highly polluting old model diesel vehicles from the road. Unfortunately, the Government disagreed and terminated the scheme on expiry. It was disappointing. Apparently, the Government’s agenda is to phase out these pre-Euro and Euro I diesel commercial vehicles generically. Yet, these high emission old models are environmentally unfriendly. If owners choose to disposal of them instead of replacement, subsidy should also be offered for scrapping so that they would not find their way to the second hand market. I urge the Government to reconsider seriously resuming the replacement scheme for old model diesel vehicles.