HONG KONG, Jan. 15 -- Hong Kong Chief Executive C Y Leung said Wednesday in his second policy address that environmental protection is one of the priorities of the current- term government and the plan of phasing out old diesel commercial vehicles will start in March.
"In my first year of office, the government drew up a more comprehensive and long-term blueprint to improve Hong Kong's environment and launched a series of major environmental protection initiatives," Leung said.
He said that the government has reached a consensus with the industry to phase out some 82,000 old Euro III or earlier diesel commercial vehicles and the relevant legislation has been passed by the Legislative Council (LegCo).
"Subject to this council's approval for a provision of about 11. 4 billion HK dollars (about 1.47 billion U.S. dollar) to meet expenditure on ex gratia payments, we will kick-start the scheme in March this year."
He also mentioned that the environment bureau announced A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong last March, with the goal of broadly achieving the new Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) by 2020. The new AQOs took effect this month.
Moreover, newly registered diesel commercial vehicles will be subject to a service life limit of 15 years with effect from February 2014.
The sulphur content of local marine diesel will be reduced from 0.5 percent to 0.05 percent. The relevant legislation will soon be introduced into the LegCo.
Leung said, to reduce sulphur dioxide and particulate emissions, the environment bureau will introduce a bill into LegCo within this year to require ocean-going vessels at berth in Hong Kong to switch to low-sulphur diesel. The government will seek to implement the new requirement next year. (1 HK dollar = 7.75 U.S. dollars)