HK goes electric to drive out pollution

HK goes electric to drive out pollution
A tourist having her photo taken yesterday at Tsim Sha Tsui pier, where this giant banner depicting Hong Kong's skyline on a clear day has attracted many disappointed by cloudy or smog-choked skies.

SINGAPORE - The taxi purrs up the slope as cabby Sammy Ho Kam Lok steps on the gas - or rather, the electricity.

"I can go faster now. It's quieter too," says the 53-year-old of his new sedan painted the jaunty red of Hong Kong's cabs.

It is one of 14 new electric taxis now plying streets here, marking the start of what many hope will be a wave of electric vehicles that can help curb the city's pollution.

Just last week, Hong Kong was shrouded yet again in smog. Tourism officials put up a giant banner at the Tsim Sha Tsui pier of a clear city skyline, so visitors could take their holiday snaps against it.

A key culprit is road transport, especially belching lorries, buses and taxis. It makes up two-thirds of the carbon monoxide and a third of the nitrogen oxides here, says Ms Tiffany Leung of environment advocacy group Clean Air Network. Marine vessels and power generators also contribute.

"Electric vehicles will thus be significant in helping us deal with pollution," Ms Leung says.

There are now 482 such vehicles here, up from 74 in 2010.

They form a small fraction of the city's 658,000 vehicles, but plans are afoot to increase their usage.

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