Published: 12:44, September 6, 2023 | Updated: 18:02, September 6, 2023
Hong Kong mulls tightening air quality objectives
By Wang Zhan

Tourists take a boat ride in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, as they bask in the sunshine on Sept 4, 2023, with the weather getting better days after Typhoon Saola battered the city. (SHAMIM ASHRAF / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has proposed to tighten five prevailing air quality objectives (AQOs) and set three new parameters introduced by the World Health Organization in its Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs).

The current review of the AQOs has considered 21 air quality improvement measures with substantial emission reduction impacts by 2030 on basis of three blueprints announced in 2021 and projected the air quality improvement by 2030 through air quality assessment.

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The blueprints – Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles, the Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2035 and the Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2050 – cover strategies to promote new energy transport technologies use, combat climate change and achieve carbon neutrality and set out targets for the short, medium and long-term.

Over the past decade, Hong Kong’s air quality has been improving continuously, with an over 40% to 60% reduction in major air pollutants and a significant enhancement of visibility

Based on the assessment results, the Environment and Ecology Bureau proposed to tighten the five prevailing AQOs and set three new parameters. 

This will bring the AQOs of the fine suspended particulates to a target level broadly in line with the standards of Japan, Singapore, Korea and the United States, and more stringent than those of the European Union, said a spokesman for the Environment and Ecology Bureau

If the proposal is adopted, the 15 updated AQOs will all be benchmarked to the interim targets and AQG levels of the WHO AQGs, amongst which seven AQOs are set at the most stringent levels of the WHO.

Hong Kong’s air quality has been improving continuously, with an over 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in major air pollutants and a significant enhancement of visibility, over the past decade. In 2022, the air quality was the best since the city’s return to the motherland in 1997.

Acknowledging government achievements in improving the city’s air quality, the Advisory Council on the Environment expressed its support on the proposed AQOs updates a meeting on Monday.

“To further protect public health and improve air quality, the HKSAR government will implement the various emission reduction strategies as laid down in the Three Blueprints as planned, and through reviewing at least once every five years to explore suitable AQOs and formulate corresponding air quality management measures,” said the Environment and Ecology Bureau spokesman.

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The bureau will also strengthen collaboration with Guangdong authorities to tackle regional air quality management issues, the spokesman added.

The SAR government also launched a two-month public consultation on this on Aug 31 and will make the final recommendations after taking into account the outcome of the public consultation.