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Chery Automobile Unveils Plug-In Hybrid

Fresh Chery

Bloomberg – Updated on Mar 01, 2009

Chery Automobile, China’s largest maker of own-brand cars, has unveiled its first plug-in hybrid (a vehicle with more than one power source including batteries that can be recharged through a connection to an electricity socket), touting a range more than twice as far as General Motors’ planned Volt.

The S18 (pictured) can travel as much as 150km using just its batteries, according to Chery. GM’s Volt, which is due to go on sale next year, has a range of 64km. Chery has not said when the S18, which can be fully charged in as little as four hours and can be 80 per cent charged at a specialist station in 30 minutes, will go on sale.

The mainland has encouraged domestic carmakers to develop alternative-energy vehicles to curb oil imports and pollution and help local industry compete against GM and Toyota. BYD, the mainland carmaker backed by US billionaire Warren Buffett, started selling the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid car in December. The F3 DM can run for 100km on its batteries, which take seven hours to fully charge and can be 50 per cent charged at a station in 10 minutes.

Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang in November said the government intended to have 60,000 alternative-energy vehicles on the roads of 10 mainland cities by 2012.

Hong Kong-Developed Electric MyCar

Any colour so long as it’s green

The Hong Kong-developed electric MyCar is leading the drive for clean-fuel microcars in Britain

David Wilson – Updated on Mar 01, 2009 – SCMP

The time may have come to put the conventional gas-guzzling car in the garage and replace it with a compact electric vehicle. With fuel prices in a state of flux and our environmental vandalism becoming ever more apparent, demand for electric vehicles, or EVs, is increasing.

Hong Kong can be proud in the knowledge that a locally developed EV is attempting to lead the charge for clean-fuel microcars overseas, starting in Europe. The conservatively branded MyCar is an electric microcar – defined as a small, fuel-efficient car, powered by petrol engines of up to 700cc or electricity – manufactured by Kwai Chung-based EuAuto Technology, with funding from the Hong Kong government.

The MyCar was unveiled in Britain in January with a sticker price of £8,995 (HK$99,824). It comes in seven colours including pearl white and metallic green. The two-seater EV, made from fibreglass-reinforced plastic body panels, has a maximum speed of 64km/h and can travel 112km on a full charge. It takes six to eight hours to completely power the car.

EuAuto chief executive Chung Sin-ling says the MyCar should appeal to eco-conscious Britain, which has so far built a network of 73 public battery-charging stations, mostly in London. Owners who join the EV Network ( can charge their cars at the homes of other members.

The vehicle’s top speed might seem slow but it should be enough for London motorists, who drive at an average speed of 16km/h – about 3km/h slower than horse-drawn carriages travelled in Edwardian times.

Precisely because a microcar cannot hurtle around at high speeds, the accident rate is half that of standard cars, says Chung, who estimates microcar insurance and running costs should be about 25 per cent lower the conventional vehicles. Better yet, the MyCar is exempt from road tax as well as central London’s £8 daily congestion charge. In addition, in designated areas of the city, the typical £4-per-hour parking fee is being waived for EVs.

“We expect to get some very good sales over the next few months,” says Chung, noting the MyCar’s low running costs, zero carbon emissions and convenience for short-distance travel.

Unfortunately, the British MyCar launch ran into the heaviest snowfalls the country has seen in 18 years and the vehicle has so far registered only four sales.

EuAuto’s MyCar initiative was originally funded by Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Commission. The microcar’s driving system was co-developed with the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, while its initial design is credited to Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. Lee Tak-chi, a professor at Polytechnic University’s School of Design, was involved in the design of the prototype, introduced at the 2003 Bologna Motor Show, in Italy.

Peter Sun, chairman of EuAuto, points out that the MyCar’s future plans include a coupe, a four-seater and a pick-up.

Chung says the target markets for MyCar do not include Hong Kong – not because of safety issues but because “there is no such thing as a microcar in Hong Kong”. In other words, there is no classification that covers such a vehicle and would allow for its licensing.

The usual snag with EVs is that they handle badly but Chung describes the MyCar – which weighs 726kg with batteries – as “very stable” and capable of turning in a tight circle. The car measures 2.6 metres by 1.4 metres by 1.4 metres with a ground clearance of 12cm. Its maximum load is 200kg. The MyCar also needs minimal upkeep. “Besides its four-battery pack, there is nothing else that needs maintenance,” says Chung, adding that the car’s Italian-made parts should last a long time because they are made from the highest quality materials. It also has electric windows and central locking.

“You get a lot more features and functionality,” says Chung, noting that rival microcars from France and India are comparatively clunky. “And, of course, by emitting less carbon dioxide you’re also saving the world.”

There is, however, some uncertainty over the MyCar’s battery. Currently made of lead-absorbent glass mat cells, it will be upgraded to lithium. The change will probably increase both the vehicle’s mileage and the cost of the battery.

Early last century, American industrialist Henry Ford, father of the modern assembly line, teamed up with inventor Thomas Edison on a doomed mission to introduce an EV to the market.

Interest in electric vehicles was rekindled in the late 1960s and again in the 70s, following the Arab oil embargo.

Innovation consultant Jeff Lindsay paints a bright future for the MyCar, which he describes as “impressively styled”.

“It may be a compelling vehicle for urban dwellers, who rarely need to exceed 64km/h,” says Lindsay, adding that a microcar that can deliver basic performance and convenience should do well in today’s market. He warns, however, that pricing is critical and urges MyCar’s makers to publish their safety test results.

Europe is only a starting point for the MyCar, Chung says. Future plans include selling the EV in Asia, including in Greater China. She intends to lobby the Hong Kong government to change transport regulations, paving the way for the MyCar’s entry into its home market.

Christian Masset, chairman of anti-pollution group Clear the Air, says EVs such as the MyCar should be introduced on to Hong Kong streets.

“It would improve roadside air quality at no cost,” says Masset.

Additional reporting by Bien Perez.

Mitsubishi Motors Signs MoU with Hong Kong Environment Bureau

Mitsubishi Motors Signs MoU with Hong Kong Environment Bureau Regarding Testing of i MiEV Electric Vehicle

Hong Kong, Feb 26, 2009 – (ACN Newswire) – Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), in cooperation with its Hong Kong distributor Universal Cars Ltd., today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Environment Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China regarding local evaluation of the zero-emissions i MiEV* electric vehicle.

As an investigative step toward possible future introduction of the electric vehicle, the proposed project would begin as early as May 2009 and would examine issues including market acceptability, as well as incentives and structural issues such as the suitability of the charging infrastructure.

Announced in October 2006, the i MiEV represents the pinnacle of Mitsubishi Motors’ green technologies. Currently involved in testing and promotional activities in Japan, New Zealand, the United States and across Europe, the i MiEV will be launched in Japan during the summer of 2009.

*MiEV: Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle

Government To Promote The Use Of Electric Cars

Government seeks to pave way for introduction of electric cars

BUDGET 2009 – SCMP – Cheung Chi-fai – Feb 26, 2009

The government will promote the use of electric cars in Hong Kong by testing the vehicles in the city, while the financial secretary will head a body to overcome hurdles to their early introduction here.

The move came as Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah extended the registration tax waiver for electric vehicles for an extra five years, to March 2014.

The waiver was introduced in 1994, but only 31 private electric cars had been registered out of more than 400,000 on the city’s streets by the end of last year.

The test car will be a Mitsubishi iMiev, a four-seater vehicle powered by a lithium-ion battery, which was displayed in Hong Kong last October.

A government department will test its performance and issues related to battery recharging. Officials acknowledged that the government is now taking a more proactive role to lure carmakers into introducing electric vehicles here on a commercial basis, as early as possible and in the greatest numbers feasible.

To assess the development of electric cars, the officials said Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah had recently visited BYD Auto, a mainland-based battery producer that has developed an electric private car model.

Electric cars are emissions-free and about 80 per cent more energy efficient than petrol-powered ones. Recent technological breakthroughs have greatly increased their battery capacity, to sustain a trip of at least 100km after a single charge, up from 40km earlier in their development.

Quick-charging technology means a car can now be charged in half an hour, compared to eight hours before, and it has become easier to recycle used lithium batteries.

Mr Tsang will lead a high-level committee to address the problem of making battery-recharging infrastructure widely available.

“We will examine the feasibility of providing recharging facilities in government multi-storey car parks and explore ways of encouraging the business sector, including property developers and private car park operators, to set up such facilities,” Mr Tsang said.

The government fleet might adopt electric cars, and the city could tap the business and employment opportunities of producing electric car parts and accessories for the growing market, he said.

Chau Kwok-tong, an electric vehicle expert with the University of Hong Kong, welcomed the government’s move to promote electric cars.

“The smaller size of Hong Kong and relatively shorter travel distance makes the city an ideal place for using electric cars,” he said.

Hailing the ideal of a green economy in the budget, Mr Tsang said the city would step up co-operation with Guangdong to develop regional hi-tech recycling industries and promote cleaner production.

Locally, both government and private buildings would benefit from two programmes, totalling HK$900 million, to promote energy and carbon audits, and improve energy efficiency.

The Port of Hong Kong – download the full report here.

Case Study: Hong Kong

The Port of Hong Kong has been a leading Asian seaport for more than a century and a top container port for more than three decades. Between 2001 and 2006, Hong Kong container throughput increased by 32 percent from 17.8 million to 23.5 million TEUs. Containerized cargo in Hong Kong now represents about 74 percent of Hong Kong’s total cargo throughput. In 2006, Hong Kong was the second largest container port in the world, although it is likely that it was surpassed by Shanghai in 2008. The port is served by 80 international shipping lines with over 450 container liner services per week to over 500 destinations worldwide. The port is managed by the Marine Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the local government for the city.

Hong Kong is located in the Pearl River Delta, which includes other cities and container ports, including the Port of Shenzhen, the world’s fourth largest container port. Container traffic at Shenzhen has also steadily risen recently, to 18.5 million TEUs in 2006 compared with 5.0 million TEUs in 2001. Together, in 2006, the Hong Kong and Shenzhen ports accounted for 9.5 percent of global container volume, making the Pearl River Delta the largest container handling region in the world. Cargo throughput is expected to grow. A study commissioned by the Hong Kong Transport and Housing Bureau estimates that, by 2030, Hong Kong will handle between 39 and 43 million TEUs.

Air quality in the Hong Kong is generally poor and levels remain much higher than the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. Since 1990, emissions of all air pollutants have risen dramatically.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides doubled and particulate matter showed over a 90 percent gain. In 2006, Civic Exchange, a nonprofit public policy research organization based in Hong Kong, published a report, Marine Emission Reduction Options for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta Region, which found that local vehicle and marine emissions are the dominant source of air pollution in Hong Kong during prevailing wind conditions that exist about one-third of the year.

Governments and other stakeholders in the maritime sector have already implemented some positive measures including the promotion of low sulfur fuel use by marine vessels and port vehicles, the use of electricity to power port machinery and the reduction of fuel consumption through efficiency measures. These measures in themselves have not been sufficient to reduce port emissions on a scale necessary to protect public health, but pressure to take more ambitious action is growing.

In February and March 2008, Civic Exchange sponsored two workshops for stakeholders involved in port environmental issues. The working group for the workshop included four stakeholder groups: oceangoing vessel operators, port operators, local craft harbor operators and land vessel operators involved in port activities. The stakeholder groups all endorsed government incentives to encourage green technologies and to pay the incremental cost of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel compared to lower grade conventional fuels. They also supported increased research and development of advanced technologies for marine applications, pursuit of shore power use by berthed ships and the creation of a low emission area subject to IMO regulations.

The recommendations of the working group were used by Civic Exchange in the development of its July 2008 report, Green Harbours: Hong and Shenzhen — Reducing Marine and Port Related Pollution. The report’s five key recommendations are as follows:

• In the short term: Foster greater regional collaboration across borders, port and marine sectors
• In the medium term: Develop a comprehensive green ports strategy and related policy measures to create the regulatory and planning framework for implementing green port policies
• Develop cleaner fuels initiatives to encourage the use and availability of cleaner fuels
• Expand training programs for industry employees to encourage proper equipment operation to ensure efficient operation
• Conduct additional port related research to identify new green port projects suitable for Hong Kong

Hong Kong is responding to the increased recognition of the role of port activities in the city’s environmental problems. In June 2008, Hong Kong ratified the MARPOL Annex VI marine fuel quality standards as a Special Administrative Region of China recognized at the IMO separately from the national government in Beijing, which had already ratified the agreement. It plans to go beyond the new IMO regulations by applying fuel quality standards to local shipping as well as international commerce
regulated by the IMO.

Emissions from ships in Hong Kong harbor are regulated by the Marine Department. Ships in the harbor now use 5,000 ppm sulfur fuel. The ferry system will start running a trial using 50 ppm sulfur fuel early next year. Assuming the results are positive, political leaders seem committed to continue its use in ferries, but not to expand it to other craft without the cooperation of other cities in the Pearl River Delta mooring local marine craft.

The Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) was very active during the few years of debate before the MARPOL Annex VI Amendments were adopted in October 2008, says Arthur Bowring, Managing Director of the group. The HKSOA represents more than 100 shipping companies that own more than 1,100 ships. “Environment is our biggest single challenge,” adds Bowring, referring to shipowners.

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is the chief air pollution regulatory agency in Hong Kong for landside emission sources, including all types of motorized vehicles. “Marine emissions are a new issue for us,” notes W.C. Mok, Principal Environmental Protection Officer.206 There are currently no regulatory standards that apply to offroad cargo handling equipment at ports. Onroad trucks fueling in Hong Kong are required to buy diesel fuel containing only 10 ppm sulfur, but when refueling takes place across the border with mainland China, they are subject only to a 500 ppm sulfur cap. Since most trucks delivering containers to Hong Kong pick up their cargo at mainland factories, most diesel fuel burned in Hong Kong is the higher sulfur content grade.

The 10 ppm fuel is much more expensive, even with an exemption from sales taxes offered by Hong Kong. The EPD is currently studying the technical feasibility of using compressed or liquefied natural gas in heavy duty vehicles. It will examine the results in 2009. The EPD is also studying options to reduce air pollution from cargo handling equipment at container ports.

As government agencies assess regulatory options, several private container terminal operators are moving ahead to deploy hybrid electric rubber tire gantries (RTGs). Seventeen hybrid electric RTGs were deployed at Container Terminal 4 owned by Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT) in 2008. They are the first step in a $18 million (U.S. dollars) program to equip 81 RTGs with hybrid electric drivetrains, about 70 percent of HITs total fleet. The hybrid RTGs are fitted with lithium ion batteries that provide power to help lift containers. The batteries are recharged by regenerative braking energy generated during the lowering of containers and from a generator powered by the onboard diesel engine.

In October 2008, Modern Terminals Ltd. signed a contract with Kawatoyo Electric Company Ltd., the sole agent for Yaskawa Group Port Crane System, to convert 44 RTGs with hybrid electric drivetrains at its terminal in Hong Kong by mid-2009. The drivetrains are being developed by Yaskawa Electric Corporation. They use ultracapacitors as the onboard energy storage technology.

The Modern Terminals Da Chen Bay Terminal 1 at Shenzhen already uses hybrid electric RTGs. The terminal is the first to convert its entire RTG fleet to hybrid electric drivetrains. Modern Terminals associate company, Taicang International Container Terminal, is currently converting its fleet at the Port of Shanghai to hybrid electric RTGs.

In other programs at Shenzhen, Shekou Container Terminal (SCT) is installing auxiliary generators onboard its entire fleet of 78 RTGs by the end of 2010 at the port of Shekou. It is also installing rail mounted gantry cranes (RMGs), which are quieter, last longer, and are 20 percent more efficient than conventional RTGs. By the end of 2008, SCT plans to install 16 RMGs. Another initiative is studying the use of using hybrid technology or LNG yard tractors.

Yantian International Container Terminals (YICT) is the largest port in Shenzhen, handling 10 million TEUs in 2007. YICT has converted 12 of its 200 RTGs from conventional to hybrid electric drivetrains, and plans to switch another 60. The RTGs are equipped with supercapacitors, which are yielding a 25 percent energy savings by capturing and reusing energy released as containers are lowered to the ground. Anticipating shoreside power, YICT has started installing infrastructure works and is studying power converter technology before implementing this new technology. It is also promoting rail transportation from the port on its dedicated rail line. Each train can transport 50 containers in one journey, making them more efficient and cleaner than trucks.

Tax Break Set For Electric Vehicles

February 25, 2009 – Environment

The First Registration Tax exemption for electric vehicles will be extended five more years to promote their use. The exemption is due to expire March 31, but will be extended five years instead of three years as in the past.

In his 2009-10 Budget today Financial Secretary John Tsang said promoting the use of vehicles which are more energy efficient and emit no exhaust will create business opportunities.

He will lead a steering committee to study their wider use in Hong Kong, conduct in-depth studies and make recommendations from the perspectives of economic development, town planning, industry, technology, environmental protection and transport.

The Government will study the feasibility of jointly promoting electric vehicles with manufacturers, and be actively involved in testing them to introduce them into the local market early.

“We will also consider introducing such vehicles into the government fleet when the related technology has matured and the vehicles are available on the market,” Mr Tsang said.

The Government will study the feasibility of providing recharging facilities in public multi-storey car parks and explore ways of encouraging the business sector, including property developers and private car park operators, to set up such facilities.

Saving energy

Noting buildings account for 90% of Hong Kong’s total power consumption, Mr Tsang said the Environment & Conservation Fund will allocate $450 million for private building owners to conduct energy- carbon audits and energy efficiency improvement projects. More than 1,600 projects will be subsidised.

Another $450 million will be allocated to conduct minor works in government buildings in the next two years to install energy-efficient lighting, retrofit plumbing with water-saving devices and incorporate energy-efficient features in air-conditioning, elevator and escalator systems.

Going green

In the coming year Greening Master Plan projects undertaken by the Civil Engineering & Development Department will cover the whole of Hong Kong Island and urban Kowloon.

Landscaping features will be provided on 500 old slopes and greening work on the rooftops of 40 government buildings through additional funding for minor works. Schools and other non-profit-making organisations will also be subsidised to conduct greening work.

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong will co-operate with Guangdong to transform the Pearl River Delta region into a green and quality-living area with a cluster of high-tech, low-pollution and low-energy-consumption cities.

“We will further develop regional high-tech recycling industries, and encourage enterprises to adopt advanced technologies for cleaner production, energy saving and emission reduction,” Mr Tsang said, noting promoting a green economy will enhance Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness and make it a more liveable city.

Hong Kong To Invest Heavily In Green Economy

HK to invest heavily in ‘green economy’

Staff reporters – Updated on Feb 25, 2009 – SCMP

The government would invest hundreds of millions of dollars making Hong Kong a greener city and a better living environment, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said on Wednesday.

“Promoting a ‘green economy’ would enhance Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness as well as making it a more livable city,” he explained.

Mr Tsang sketched out plans for promoting more energy efficient buildings, beautifying the harbour front and introducing electric vehicles.

The financial secretary pledged to extend exemption for electric vehicles from First Registration Tax for a further five years, until March 31, 2014.

“Promoting the use of electric vehicles will create additional business opportunities. We will be actively involved in vehicle tests conducted in Hong Kong with a view to introducing electric vehicles into our market,” said Mr Tsang, who will lead a committee to study the wider use of electric vehicles.

Mr Tsang said the government would also study the possibility of jointly promoting electric vehicles with manufacturers.

To promote more energy-efficient buildings, HK$450 million would be allocated over the next two years to install energy-efficient systems in government buildings.

An additional HK$450 million has been earmarked for private building owners to conduct energy audits and improvement works.

“We expect to subsidise more than 1,600 projects,” he said. “This will also create business opportunities for related sectors.”

The financial secretary said Hong Kong would extend existing areas of co-operation with the Guangdong provincial government to improve the environment.

“This is to turn the region into a cluster of high-tech, low-pollution and low-energy-consumption cities. We will also further develop regional high-tech recycling industries, and encourage enterprises to adopt advanced technologies for cleaner production, energy saving and emission reduction,” he said.

Tenants Won’t Pay For Green Office

Olga Wong, SCMP – Feb 20, 2009

More than half of grade A office tenants are not willing to lease green space at higher rents despite the fact that such features save on work costs, a survey has found.

The survey also found 40 per cent of tenants would pay higher rents if the increase were not too much – not more than 20 per cent of the price of offices without green features such as power-efficient lighting and air conditioning, and more natural light.

Global real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle polled 20 major local developers and 80 grade A office tenants last summer. It was conducted to identify problems in promoting the city’s green buildings. No margin of error was provided in the survey.

Although occupiers understand that it is more costly for developers or landlords to build and operate green buildings, many of them are not prepared to pay more for these premises,” said Marcos Chan Kam-ping, Jone Lang LaSalle’s greater Pearl Delta area research chief.

The survey showed 40 per cent of tenants would not pay more to lease an office in a green building and 13 per cent added that they should pay lower rents.Mr Chan said the survey did not ask why tenants wanted to pay less for a green office.

If the rent on an office with green amenities is 20 per cent higher than that of an office without such features, the survey found that no tenant is willing to rent it. However, 40 per cent said they would if the rent was 10 per cent higher.

Eighty per cent of developers had no mission statement on sustainable properties although commercial buildings consume 66 per cent of the city’s electricity. Seventy per cent said the major hurdle in adopting green measures was the high initial capital cost and the length of time before any returns could be seen.

Mr Chan urged the government to use more incentives to encourage developers to design more green buildings. “In the US, green building plans enjoy a faster approval procedure. This benefits developers, especially when the property market is going up,” he said.

William Lai Hon-ming, the firm’s head of property management, said conducting an energy audit helped companies save on costs. “Few know that using a water-cooled air-conditioning system can save at least 20 per cent of energy costs and the capital cost can be recovered in five years,” he said.

State To Close 31 GW At Small Power Plants

Eric Ng, SCMP – Updated on Feb 05, 2009

The central government plans to shut down small coal-fired plants with a combined power generating capacity of 31 gigawatts over the next three years after surpassing its targets for the past two years.

China Central Television quoted an official at the National Energy Commission as saying that Beijing aimed to close pollution-prone and inefficient small power plants with a combined capacity of 13 GW this year, 10 GW next year and 8 GW in 2011.

They would be replaced by large, energy-efficient plants capable of generating 50 GW of power, the report said.

The targets were set at a national energy work meeting on Tuesday. It was the first national industry meeting since the ministerial-level commission’s establishment about a year ago.

About 3.14 GW of capacity was shut in 2006, while 14.38 GW was closed in the following year, exceeding a target of 10 GW. Last year, 16.69 GW was taken off line, beating a 13 GW target.

Together with this and next years’ goals, the mainland will close small plants with a combined capacity of 57.21 GW – more than the five-year target of 50 GW set in 2006.

“We should grasp the opportunity arising from the current decline in power demand to speed up the closure of small power plants and their replacement with large ones,” the commission’s head Zhang Guobao was quoted by the Shanghai Securities News as saying during the meeting.

Large modern plants utilise more efficient technology. For example, the 1 GW generation units installed at Huaneng Power International’s Yuhuan plant in Zhejiang province consumes 283 grams of coal per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of output. This compares with an average of 349 grams for all of the country’s coal-fired plants last year, down from an average of 370 grams in 2005.

The improvement was largely a result of the construction of new plants over the past five years, when capacity doubled to 792.5 GW at the end of 2008.

Energy efficiency enhancement in the power sector, which contributes three-quarters of energy production, is key to attaining the country’s goal to cut energy consumption per unit of economic output by a fifth between 2006 and 2010.

The mainland used 4.2 per cent less energy to generate each unit of gross domestic product last year, up from 3.7 per cent in 2007 and 1.8 per cent in 2006.

Time to Become Environmentally Friendly

Economic crisis gives us a chance to become environmentally friendly

Updated on Feb 01, 2009 – SCMP

Air pollution is a major concern in Hong Kong. I think the present financial crisis is the best time to begin changing our energy policies in an effort to lower our air pollution levels. We must do this, because as air quality deteriorates, our health will suffer. With [continuing dependence on oil] and fluctuating oil prices, we will face more economic instability. We have to recognise that as pollution gets worse, some professionals from abroad are reluctant to come and live in Hong Kong. Being a commercial city, there is huge demand for electricity. As a major entrepot in South China, our trucks, ships and aircraft consume a lot of fossil fuel.

I believe our power stations should come up with a strategy to develop renewable energy resources. We are using non-renewable energy, in the form of coal, natural gas and nuclear power. More should be done in Hong Kong to develop wind, solar and biomass energy. We should also consider co-operating with the authorities in Guangdong with a view to a joint venture through which we could develop green energy. Hong Kong could provide the necessary financing for such a joint venture and Guangdong could offer cheap labour and the spare land needed to establish the green projects. By lowering the cost of labour, land and energy, we can persuade foreign investors to set up companies in Hong Kong.

The government should also encourage Hong Kong citizens to save energy. For example, it could offer tax exemptions for environmentally friendly private cars. Tax penalties could be imposed on cars that pollute because of the fuel they use. I think the tax on plastic bags is a good start. We need to develop a new culture of responsibility regarding the environment. Instead of creating construction jobs as a way to stimulate the economy, we should consider ways of creating green job opportunities, especially for the unskilled who are out of work. For example, people will be needed to categorise our refuse and promote a recycling programme for Hong Kong’s households.

As I said, I think the economic downturn offers us a golden opportunity to diversify and develop green industries.

Stefan Lam Kit-yung, Tuen Mun