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ENVIRONMENT | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong to get tougher on pollution

Will take old commercial vehicles off the road.

The Hong Kong government estimates that 80% of roadside pollutants are from old diesel commercial vehicles. It has also said it will soon propose new air quality objectives it intends to implement in 2014.

Persistent pollution has been a factor in Hong Kong’s aim to attract foreign professionals and has probably hurt the city’s competitiveness. Factory emissions from neighboring Guangdong have long been a source of pollution but health authorities admit that street level pollution is also to blame.

Over the past five years or so, Hong Kong University estimates that more than 3,000 avoidable deaths per year were caused by air pollution.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has proposed setting aside some US$1 billion for subsides to phase out an estimated 80,000 diesel commercial vehicles. The government intends to subsidize up to 30% of the new vehicle price for owners.

The government will publish a new air plan by the end of this first quarter and hopes the targets can be implemented in 2014.

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