As OOCL London entered the English Channel in early February, the 323-meter vessel owned by Hong Kong’s biggest container line was forced to switch from burning the black sludge known as bunker oil to less polluting fuel. That wasn’t the case in the ship’s home harbor last week.
Pollution in Hong Kong, with the worst roadside smog on record during the six months ended March, has led more people to consider leaving the Chinese city, according to a survey by a policy think tank.
Roadside pollution in Hong Kong, which benchmarks itself against a 25-year-old air standard, contributed to about 7,240 premature deaths from 2005 to 2011, a public think tank said, citing data from an environmental index.
Harboring an unlicensed duck in Hong Kong can land a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,440) after the world’s first human deaths from bird flu were recorded in the city 15 years ago. That’s 50 times the penalty for driving a vehicle belching smoky fumes.
Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container-shipping company, threatened to stop using cleaner fuel at Hong Kong port from next year if the government doesn’t mandate higher quality oil for carriers berthing in the city.
Hong Kong, facing criticism over its pollution, plans to have new objectives for its air quality by 2014 and seeks to use the World Health Organization targets as a benchmark, according to a statement from the government.
Hong Kong will ban high-polluting vehicles and offer subsidies to replace diesel-powered buses and trucks, after 15 years of clean-air measures failed to limit smog responsible for more than 3,000 premature deaths a year.