Hong Kong pollution in the spotlight at smart car show

Asian countries are running out of time to combat air pollution, campaigners said Wednesday, as smart car firms converged in Hong Kong to promote clean energy vehicles.

The China International New Energy Vehicle (CINEV) show displays the latest products from major Chinese manufacturers and French firm Renault and takes place in a city where 3,000 people die of air pollution every year, according to a 2013 Hong Kong University report.

In Hong Kong there is increasing concern over pollution levels, with the government's monitoring system frequently measuring the air as hazardous.

"In terms of air pollution in Hong Kong...this is really the biggest health crisis", Hong Kong-based Clean Air Network chief executive officer, Kwong Sum-yin, told AFP.

Government proposals to reduce emissions include a plan to replace more than 80,000 older commercial diesel vehicles between 2014 and 2019.

Cities across China, India and Pakistan dominate global pollution rankings.

"All the Asian countries really need to act right now, otherwise we'll really reach the point of no return," Kwong said.

"It's still the mentality to develop first and then fix the problem later, but we don't really have that timeline anymore." The smart car show takes place less than a week before a major climate summit in Paris, which 147 world leaders will attend.

"We need to have concrete cooperation from this conference," former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who opened the CINEV show Tuesday, told AFP.

"We have to develop new initiatives the year after the conference and we have to act very quickly." The November 30-December 11 Paris conference is tasked with signing the first-ever truly universal pact to curb global warming.

The CINEV show closes Thursday.