Hong Kong Moves to Tackle Deadly Ship Smog Fouling City’s Skies

Hong Kong will force oceangoing ships to burn cleaner fuel while at berth, bringing relief to residents facing a third straight year of near-record pollution.

The city also said it would phase out polluting trucks and buses and clamp down on smoky vehicles, according to a government release today which detailed an emissions reduction plan to 2020.

Forcing ships to switch to the more expensive, cleaner fuel may reduce the smog that causes more than 3,000 premature deaths a year in Hong Kong, where the world’s highest rents, shortages of schools and the filthiest air of any global financial hub are deterring skilled workers. Vessels can now burn oil containing 3,500 times the sulfur as auto diesel sold in the city.

Soot from burning marine fuel accounted for 31 percent of respirable particles in Hong Kong’s air in 2008, according to the city’s government.

The decision to replace the current voluntary program that international shipping companies say rewards polluters was part of a raft of measures Hong Kong and the neighboring Chinese province of Guangdong endorsed to meet 2015 air emission targets.