Focus on local air quality

Updated: 2013-01-14 14:08

By Murad Qureshi (China Daily)

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Let us look at the somewhat different experiences of London and Hong Kong. The London mayor, in his previous term, had hoped to put 100,000 electric vehicles on the road and to install 25,000 plug-in-points in the city. He even hoped that 1,000 of the Great London Assembly vehicles would be run on electricity. But only 1,500 electric vehicles have hit the roads, 900 plug-in-points have been set up and just 50-odd GLA vehicles are running on electricity.

Most of the 3,000 EVs in the United Kingdom are part of companies' fleets and this trend is likely to continue in the immediate future. Though the UK's network of charging points continues to expand - 400 more points are likely to be added in London - the price of new electric cars remains high despite the government's 5,000 pounds subsidy for each vehicle.

But Hong Kong informed the BAQ2012 that many manufacturers had conducted EV trials, 373 EVs from different makers had been registered and more than 1,000 standard charging points set up, 500 of which were in government car parks. So it appears that with the concerted efforts of the government, power companies, property developers and car park operators, the EV charging infrastructure in Hong Kong is expanding progressively. That's a positive sign.

On the Chinese mainland, the combined efforts of the government and the private sector are helping drive the global growth in environmental certification. Almost 82,000 Chinese companies have qualified for ISO14001, of which more than 12,200 did so in 2011 alone.

This is the highest growth rate in the world and can attribute to Chinese companies' realization that the standard can help them reduce their environmental impact, as well as maintain their competitive advantage, cut costs, enhance their reputation and win new business.

In these times of global economic uncertainty, the continued increase in the number of Chinese companies with environmental certification proves that investing in environmental measures will help build a sustainable economic future.

So while critical global environmental issues like climate change have been effectively put on hold because UN member countries have not agreed on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, attention has been diverted to more localized global environmental concerns like poor air quality in cities. This development can only improve urban residents' life in countries like China.

The author is the chair of the London Assembly

Environment Committee.



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