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Targets urged for 2030

Green groups called on Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam- sing to outline an emissions plan for 2030 and beyond.

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Wong, pictured, who is in Paris, should bring ideas from other regions back home, they said.

Currently, Hong Kong’s plan is to reduce emissions by 19 to 33 percent as compared to 2005 levels by 2020.

It is odd that China has outlined its plan well beyond 2020, said Gavin Edwards of the World Wildlife Fund.

The plan may include “a scheme to encourage renewable energy development,” he added.

Greenpeace senior campaigner Frances Yeung Hoi-shan said it is time to start formulating a 2030 target since “it takes time to change economic and energy models, including renewable energy.”

Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling

Dutch court orders state to reduce emissions by 25% within five years to protect its citizens from climate change in world’s first climate liability suit

A court in The Hague has ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by at least 25% within five years, in a landmark ruling expected to cause ripples around the world. To cheers and hoots from climate campaigners in court, three judges ruled that government plans to cut emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change. Jubilant campaigners said that governments preparing for the Paris climate summit later this year would now need to look over their shoulders for civil rights era-style legal challenges where emissions-cutting pledges are inadequate. “Before this judgement, the only legal obligations on states were those they agreed among themselves in international treaties,” said Dennis van Berkel, legal counsel for Urgenda, the group that brought the suit. “This is the first a time a court has determined that states have an independent legal obligation towards their citizens. That must inform the reduction commitments in Paris because if it doesn’t, they can expect pressure from courts in their own jurisdictions.” In what was the first climate liability suit brought under human rights and tort law, Judge Hans Hofhuis told the court that the threat posed by global warming was severe and acknowledged by the Dutch government in international pacts. “The state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts,” the judges’ ruling said. “Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.”

After a legal campaign that took two and a half years to get to its first hearing in April, normally dispassionate lawyers were visibly moved by the judge’s words. “As the verdict was being read out, I actually had tears in my eyes,” Roger Cox, Urgenda’s lead advocate, told the Guardian. “It was an emotional moment.” Young activists in court said that the ruling had gone some way to restoring Dutch national pride, which has been dented as Denmark, Germany and even the UK overtook the Netherlands, once seen as a European climate leader, in the green economy race. The Dutch Socialist party MP Eric Smaling cautioned though that “some people will feel proud but others are more unhappy about the influx of refugees. So far climate action has too much been the last baby of a relatively leftist elite.” He called for a wide coalition to spread the climate action message before elections in early 2017. The Dutch government has not decided whether to appeal the court’s decision yet, but opposition politicians are steeling themselves for the prospect. Stientje Van Veldhoven, an MP and spokesperson for the D66 Liberal opposition in parliament noted that the government had yielded to a comparable, if more limited, ruling ending gas extraction in part of the giant Groningen gas fields earlier this year. “The government has never ignored a court ruling like this one before, but there has never been a ruling like this before either,” she said. “Everybody has a right to appeal.” Veldhoven has requested a parliamentary debate on Wednesday’s court ruling. In a statement on behalf of prime minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet, the Dutch environment minister Wilma Mansfeld said that the government’s strategy was to implement EU-wide and international agreements.

“We and Urgenda share the same goal,” Mansfeld said. “We just hold different opinions regarding the manner in which to attain this goal. We will now examine what this ruling means for the Dutch state.” Some 886 plaintiffs organised by Urgenda had accused the Dutch government of negligence for “knowingly contributing” to a breach of the 2C maximum target for global warming. Their legal arguments rested on axioms forbidding states from polluting to the extent that they damage other states, and the EU’s ‘precautionary principle’ which prohibits actions that carry unknown but potentially severe risks. A UN climate secretariat article obliging states to do whatever is necessary to prevent dangerous climate change was also cited. So was the UN climate science panel’s 2007 assessment of the reductions in carbon dioxide needed to have a 50% chance of containing global warming to 2C. Several legal sources said that ideas outlined in the Oslo principles for climate change obligations, launched in the Guardian in March, appeared to have been influential in the judge’s reasoning. James Thornton, the chief executive of the environmental law group ClientEarth, hailed what he said had been a “courageous and visionary” ruling, that would shape the playing field for future suits. “There are moments in history when only courts can address overwhelming problems. In the past it has been issues like discrimination. Climate change is our overwhelming problem and this court has addressed it. The Dutch court’s ruling should encourage courts around the world to tackle climate change now.” Serge de Gheldere, the president of Klimaat Zaak, which is pursuing an almost identical case to Urgenda’s in Belgium said: “This gives us a lot of hope as it sets an incredible precedent. The government in Belgium will take a lot of notice of what’s happened here today. This could be the first stone that sets an avalanche in motion.”

Professor Pier Vellinga, Urgenda’s chairman and the originator of the 2C target in 1989 said that the breakthrough judgement would have a massive impact. “The ruling is of enormous significance, and beyond our expectations,” he said. The court also ordered the government to pay all of Urgenda’s costs.

Urban light pollution: why we’re all living with permanent ‘mini jetlag’

Studies show that exposure to light after dusk is quite literally unnatural, and may be detrimental to health. Do we need 24/7 garages, supermarkets and TV – or should the city that never sleeps be put to bed?


Astronomer Dr Jason Pun of the Hong Kong University department of physics has been studying light pollution for nearly a decade. He says people often ask him if he’s crazy. “‘Hong Kong is supposed to be bright,’ they say. ‘Why are you even talking about light being some kind of pollution?’”

This is a city that is famous for its nightscape: neon signs advertising market stalls, pawn shops and steakhouses; illuminated skyscrapers; swanky malls that stay open – and stay lit – well into the night. “When I walk at night around some of these commercial centres, it’s so bright you almost want to wear your sunglasses,” Pun says.

Indeed, in our collective imaginations, cities are meant to be bright. But as studies begin to show that too much light can be detrimental to health, and fewer of us are able to see the stars when we look up, are cities getting too bright for our own good?

Hong Kong isn’t alone in celebrating light. Paris is still known as the City of Light; only slightly less glamorous Blackpool relies for tourism on its annual illuminations, when more than 1 million bulbs light a distance of 10km.

This celebration of artificial lighting is perhaps unsurprising, given how recently electric streetlights became the norm. It’s easy to forget that being bathed in light is a relatively modern phenomenon. Although electric streetlights first began appearing in European capitals in the mid-1800s, widespread street lighting did not become common until well into the 20th century.

It soon became a clear view of the night sky that was uncommon. Hong Kong is now often touted as the most light polluted city in the world – a view supported by a recent study from Pun and his department, Hong Kong Night Sky Brightness Monitoring Network (NSN), which measured so-called “night sky brightness”.

“We set up about 18 stations around the city, in all sorts of living environments – from the commercial urban centre, to more residential neighbourhoods, to relatively rural areas,” he explains. Then they compared the levels of light to the standard provided by the International Astronomical Union, which states how bright the sky would be without artificial light. In the most-lit areas, it was 1,000 times brighter.

“Similar studies in major capitals like Berlin and Vienna,” says Pun, “would find something more of the order of 100 to 200 times brighter.”

Europe at night from Space. Photograph: SPL/Barcroft Media

Europe at night from Space. Photograph: SPL/Barcroft Media

But with light pollution studies still in their infancy, and without any strict international standards on how to quantify the extent of light pollution, it’s hard to say for sure whether Hong Kong is the most light-polluted city. Other candidates that are often cited by those with the best view – astronauts – include Las Vegas, Tokyo, Seoul and New York.

And Hong Kong, like in many cities around the world, is proud of its illuminated city. “The brighter the better,” Pun explains, mimicking a chirpy toothpaste ad. “Brighter means more prosperous. We have a nickname for Hong Kong: the Pearl of the Orient. So I suppose a lot of people take this actually as a badge of pride without rethinking what all this brightness means.”

That can include health problems. “There’s a cascade of changes to our physiology that are associated with light exposure at night,” says Steven Lockley, a neuroscientist and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has looked at the impact of light on human physiology, including on alertness, sleep, and melatonin levels.

Because humans evolved in a 24-hour light/dark cycle known as the circadian clock, any light after dusk is “unnatural”, Lockley says. When we are exposed to light after dusk, “our daytime physiology is triggered and our brains become more alert, our heart rates go up, as does our temperature, and production of the hormone melatonin is suppressed”.

Has the way city dwellers live, removed from natural light patterns, confused our bodies? “Not so much confused as shifted: we’ve been shifted later,” Lockley says. “What happens when people go camping? If you don’t have sources of electric light, then you go to bed earlier, shortly after the sun’s gone down, and you sleep for longer.” Every day we don’t go to bed at dusk, we experience what Lockley calls “mini jetlag”.

His colleague, Ken Wright at the University of Colorado in Boulder, conducted an experiment on camping. Wright found that for campers, midnight was the middle of the night: living in brightly lit cities has artificially lengthened our days. “We go to bed later, we don’t sleep as long, and we don’t know of the long-term health impact of changing,” he says.

Las Vegas at night. Photograph: Corbis

Las Vegas at night. Photograph: Corbis

There have been studies about how changes in circadian rhythms – which may be explained by exposure to light at night – can have an impact on humans. Studies of shiftworkers found that circadian disruption is “probably carcinogenic to humans”; female nightworkers, for instance, were found to have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who do not work at night.

“As a society we need to think, do we really need some of these amenities that are putting light pollution into the environment?” Lockley says. “Do we need 24/7 garages, do we need 24/7 supermarkets, do we need 24/7 TV? It was only in 1997 that the BBC turned off and there was the national anthem and we all went to bed.”

The International Dark Sky Association is an organisation of astronomers that aims to teach how to preserve the night sky. Member Scott Kardel says he believes in balance: “While we need certain amounts of light at night for safety, commerce and more, we also need to be more careful about how much light we use, where we use it and for how long.”

But at a more abstract level, Kardel also believes that “having bright skies takes something away from us. All of our ancestors had star-filled skies that inspired countless people in art, literature, religion, science and philosophy.”

It might not be plausible to put the metropolis to bed at dusk, but cities can mitigate some of the worst light pollution. “Proper outdoor lighting,” says Kardel, “conserves energy, reduces glare” and cuts back on so-called light trespass, for example when your neighbour’s bedroom light bleeds into your sitting room.

Pun also suggests limiting the number of light installations and their hours of operation, and controlling the distance between lights and living environments. “It’s a particularly big problem in Hong Kong because it’s a very densely populated city,” he says. Any change, he also points out, would have to be a community effort that involves not just business but government.

“While a great many cities do have laws about light pollution or light trespass, they are still in the minority,” Kardel says. “The number of cities adopting light pollution regulations is growing, but they mostly seem to be appearing in smaller towns where the problem isn’t as great as it is in the larger cities.”

The Empire State Building is seen lit up before Earth Hour in New York, during which lights were turned off for one hour to show support for renewable energy. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

The Empire State Building is seen lit up before Earth Hour in New York, during which lights were turned off for one hour to show support for renewable energy. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

Los Angeles, however, is one megacity that has been trying to scrape back some of its nighttime darkness. Not long ago a sprawl of apricot-coloured street lights, LA has since undergone one of the largest LED streetlight replacement projects in the world. LEDs are proving a popular choice for cities wanting to save on lighting costs: they are being rolled out in New York, Copenhagen and Shanghai.

They’re not a panacea. “LEDs offer promise and peril,” Kardel says. “They tend to be very directional in nature, which makes it easier to direct light where it is needed. And they are much better suited than older lighting technologies for integrating with dimming or motion-sensing technologies.” But most energy-efficient LEDs contain a significant amount of blue in their spectrum. “And blue disproportionately brightens the night sky.”

Lockley thinks LEDS are the “problem, but also the solution: they allow much more sophisticated lighting systems.” The blueness can be fixed, he says. “It is possible to create LED light with multiple colours – you can alter the colours for the right time of day and the right application.”

“We might not quite be at the point where cities are putting in those types of tuneable street lamps,” he adds. But many communities in the UK have either adopted or trialled “part night lighting”, switching off the lights where they’re not needed or lowering illumination levels for part of the night. Motion-sensing technologies are being tested in the Netherlands and Ireland.

At the centre of this shift is a change in the attitudes of city residents and their governments. In Hong Kong, until only a few years ago the government avoided even using the term “light pollution”, says Pun. “They wouldn’t even admit such a thing exists. If you call it something else, like ‘light nuisance’, then I guess it will make life a little easier. Even though it seems like a gloomy situation, no pun intended, I do see a change of mindset.”

So what about Hong Kong’s brand – built at least in part on its reputation as a metropolis literally buzzing with electricity? “About 100 years ago in London, we’d be talking about all this soot from the factories nearby, and the poor air quality of the city,” Pun says. “And we move on.”

Tips for reducing your light pollution

• It’s an obvious one, but switch off any lights you are not using.
• Ensure indoor and outdoor lighting is directed at what you’re trying to light and that it’s shaded. Table and floor lamps are better for this than overhead lights.
• Use low-watt lightbulbs – you’ll save on bills and reduce glare.
• Install dimmer switches so you can alter brightness to suit ambient light.
• Use motion sensors or timers so outdoor lights are only on when they need to be.
• Install thick curtains or blinds to minimise light escaping your home at night.
• Ask your local councillor to get street lamps fitted with directional, low energy lights – after all, residential areas don’t need to be lit up like football pitches 24 hours a day.

Lund-Harket: Energy from burning waste? Bad news for the climate

from Sam Lund-Harket, writing for the World Development Movement:

On Dirty Energy Month’s Global Day of Action – Don’t Burn Our Future: Against Waste Burning and for Zero Waste. Mariel Vilella from Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) writes about the consequences of refuse dirived fuel projects.

Municipal governments throughout the world are facing choices about how to manage the unending stream of waste generated by their residents and businesses. In some places landfills and dumpsites are filling up, and all landfills and dumpsites leak into the environment. As populations continue to grow, the issue of waste becomes more urgent and more complicated. Many regions are already facing a waste crisis, and drastic measures are needed.

It’s a golden opportunity for private companies with “innovative” waste technologies, which they claim, will not only eliminate waste but will also generate energy. Some municipal governments, seduced by the idea that they will be able to turn their urgent problem into something of immediate value, have made the mistake of investing significantly in refuse derived fuel (RDF) projects, resulting in the burning of waste in incinerators, biomass plants, cement kilns, and other combustion units.

However, producing and burning RDF does not make household and industrial waste disappear, nor is it an energy or climate solution. The basis of the technology is incineration, and the burning of garbage – whether in “waste to energy” (WTE) plants, incinerators, biomass plants, cement kilns, or other industrial burners – involves an unsustainable consumption of natural resources, pollutes the environment, increases climate change, compromises human health, and seriously disrupts the lives of huge numbers of informal sector recyclers, specially in the Global South.

Moreover, despite burning RDF involves paper, plastic, and metals that come from finite natural resources such as forests, energy from incinerators is considered ‘renewable’. Even if plastics and tires are made of oil; incinerators, biomass plants and cement kilns burn them as ‘alternative fuels’, taking advantage of this blatant ‘green washing’. Not only this is a distortion of what should be deemed a sustainable, clean, and renewable energy source, it’s an extremely inefficient use of resources, as it requires an enormous amount of waste to produce a small amount of energy. Ultimately, burning these resources creates a demand for more “waste” and discourages the real solutions: conservation, redesigned packaging and products, reuse, recycling, and composting.

Countries like the UK, China, India or the US, are strongly supporting the production and burning of RDF through the application of renewable energy subsidies to these practices, amongst other bonuses for these industries. Take the example of the planned Barton Renewable Energy Plant in Urmston, Greater Manchester, which if built, it will burn 75% biomass and 25% RDF. Despite the fierce opposition of the local Council and community, the UK government has pushed its approval arguing the necessity to meet the Renewable Energy national targets.

In China, the energy generated by incineration is subsidized at the same level as solar and wind power, and 0.38% of the energy cost on-grid is covered by public funds.  A similar situation can be found in India, where government’s pledge to double the capacity for renewable energy without mentioning specific sources has been met with skepticism and controversy.  In the US, most federal energy subsidies that benefit incineration are actually meant to support the development of real renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and micro-hydro, which should not have to compete against dirty energy for the same funding. Read more on this here.

Investments are needed to think waste out of the system, but not through burning but through practical, bottom-up, decentralized strategies and urban solutions for reducing climate pollution and conserving energy and natural resources. These efforts go hand-in-hand with clean production, producer responsibility, and waste minimization programs for dangerous and hard-to-recycle materials. In contrast with the primitive idea of burning our garbage, recycling and composting create livelihoods, save money, and protect the environment and public health.

8 Nov 2013

Progress On Green Goals ‘Not Enough’

Shi Jiangtao in Beijing – Updated on Mar 06, 2009 – SCMP

Government advisers and green campaigners expressed dismay at the lack of progress in tackling the mainland’s worsening environment, despite Beijing’s renewed pledges to combat climate change and pollution problems.

Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday that severe pollution and high energy use remained big challenges despite the government’s costly campaign to repair the environment.

Speaking at the opening of the National People’s Congress, he vowed Beijing would “unswervingly” push the anti-pollution drive and address climate change.

But his renewed promises failed to cheer mainland environmentalists, who said the damage was a lot worse than Mr Wen has said and were unhappy with the government’s inability to reverse the situation.

They said Mr Wen had talked little about the grave situation in dealing with global warming, and the speech was short of pledges to do more to help make the international climate change campaign a success.

According to Mr Wen, Beijing reported progress in curbing the emission of major pollutants and promoting energy efficiency last year, the second time since 2006.

Energy use per unit of gross domestic product was cut by 4.59 per cent. Emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand (COD), two keys in measuring water pollution, fell by 5.95 per cent and 4.42 per cent respectively.

Beijing set ambitious targets three years ago as part of a five-year plan to cut energy consumption by 20 per cent and the aforementioned pollutants by 10 per cent by next year.

Referring to a major achievement in protecting the environment, Mr Wen said energy use per unit of GDP had dropped by 10 per cent over the past three years compared with the 2005 figure, while COD and sulfur dioxide emissions had been cut by 6.6 per cent and nearly 9 per cent.

“We will implement the … plan for addressing climate change and become better able to respond to it,” he said.

Zhang Weiqing, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said the mainland’s overall environment had been deteriorating despite progress in some areas, which was far from enough to reverse the deterioration. “People are worried that it continues to get worse despite officials claiming otherwise,” he said yesterday. “Officials are still obsessed with development, but what’s the point … if the environment we live in is completely ruined?”

Environmentalists said the addiction to coal and policy priority on maintaining high growth would make it much more difficult to meet the pollution control targets on time.

Environmentally Friendly And Cost-Effective Minibus Design


I think minibus designs should be changed to make them more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Also, I think reintroducing buses without air conditioning is one way to help people who take long trips to work, cope better with the economic downturn.

Most buses have too much air conditioning. Even in the winter it is switched on which is a waste of energy.

In fact, during the peak flu season air conditioning can help spread flu in enclosed spaces. In a redesigned minibus it would be possible to have more control over air-conditioning settings.

Also, if some buses did not have air conditioning on some routes, this could make fares cheaper for people on low incomes having to commute from some remote areas to the urban areas of Hong Kong. This would lower their transport costs.

Stefan Lam Kit-yung, Tuen Mun

Air Quality Standards Review

The following letter was sent to the Director of Environmental Protection by Clear The Air:

Director of Environmental Protection – ENB

24th January 2009

Air Quality Standards Review

Dear Sir,

We are writing to express our NGO’s concern that Hong Kong’s air pollution is damaging local residents’ and visitors’ health and that the Administration’s belated current measures to address the problems remain ineffective whilst simply reporting platitudes.

Hong Kong is an extremely wealthy and developed first world city with ample resources to reduce air pollution , given the will to do so, and yet we know from the Hedley Environmental Index that last year alone 1,155 people died prematurely, there were over 83,000 avoidable hospital bed days, and 7.25 million doctors’ visits which were directly attributable to the toxic effects of local air pollution; this was at a minimum conservative cost of over HK$2.3 billion to society. We also know that for the major part of the year, the major pollution sources were locally generated. Our local power stations in 2007 burned 3 times more coal than they did in 1997 and 40% less gas than in 1999. Their greed is killing people. Perhaps you should suggest Exxon executives come and live here with their children ?

Given this evidence, we call on the Administration to demonstrate its commitment to imminent improvement of public health and reduction of resultant health costs by setting the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guidelines as the new Air Quality Standards for Hong Kong, and to set out a strategy on how it intends to achieve these Standards. Without gazetted Standards the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle cannot be effective.

In this strategy please address all the major sources of pollution, but please apply particular urgency to reducing emissions from marine vessels and non Euro V diesel on road / off road vehicles. We encourage you to enact large increases in road tax for non Euro V diesel trucks, vans and buses (thereby making these vehicle owners trade up to Euro V) and to insist forthwith on low sulphur bunker fuel use within Hong Kong waters. We appreciate that the emissions from local power stations might soon be reduced following your Department’s belated requirement that flue gas desulphurization equipment is installed as well as Nox burners. In addition the level of the Standards you set MUST therefore require the power companies apply Best Available Current Technology and fuel mix and that includes agglomerators which can catch the lethal PM0.1 ultrafine and PM2.5 heavy metal emissions which the Electrostatic Precipitators cannot currently catch.

We would stress that Air Quality Standards and a clean air strategy that do not lead to rapid improvements in public health cannot be considered an acceptable outcome of the Review and action is required, not further consultation of a public that has already grown tired of this Government’s lack of decisive action.
Yours faithfully,

James Middleton
Chairman Energy Committee

What Do You Think Of Air-Con Levels?

Updated on Aug 07, 2008 – SCMP

In the past, having an air conditioner was a luxury and only the affluent could afford them. Now they are a necessary part of our lives. Almost every family in Hong Kong has air cons.

I cannot imagine how I would endure the summer without air conditioners. I did not realise how important they were until the air con in my classroom broke down.

A lot of people turn their air conditioner lower than the temperature recommended by the government, 25.5 degrees Celsius. Sometimes, when I enter my classroom, it feels like a fridge and many of us have to wear jackets. This is a waste of electricity.

Global warming is a serious problem and is caused by many factors. Although car exhausts, factory emissions and deforestation are among the main culprits, we cannot ignore the effect that using air conditioners has on our environment.

Temperatures are gradually rising in Hong Kong and it is predicted that soon the cool months will disappear.

Global warming will see countries facing more extreme weather conditions. Floods, drought, typhoons and heat waves will happen more frequently.

If the water supply is affected, crop yields will drop and affect the food supply. We must all become more aware of the need for greater environmental protection. There must be more tree-planting initiatives and we can all do our bit by using more public transport, recycling and adjusting the temperature on our air conditioners.

Ruth Lam, Lam Tin

G8 Emperors Fiddle As The Planet Burns

Updated on Jul 18, 2008 – SCMP

Legend tells us that the Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

It seems very little has changed if we judge by the verbiage emitted by the G8 summit in Hokkaido. The globe is facing a major ecological catastrophe, yet the little emperors who attended the meeting kept fiddling as usual.

Competent scientists warn us that we must quickly reduce carbon emissions, that is, reduce the burning of coal and oil and end the conversion of rainforests to commercial agriculture, especially to produce damaging biofuels.

The obvious conclusion is that an immediate cap must be placed on the extraction and consumption of coal and oil. Was this decided by the Hokkaido meeting?

President George W. Bush (a neo-Nero) supports the oil industry and is afraid to offend American gas-guzzlers indulged by the automobile and road-building industries.

The G8 countries maintain excessive military installations that burn huge amounts of fuel in warplanes, warships, tanks and war games every day. Was any effort made to reduce their wastefulness and ecological destruction?

Anyone who still believes that the world needs armies and navies to maintain peace is either stupid or has a vested interest. These outmoded institutions waste lives, pollute the earth and waste energy. If political leaders are really serious about the health of the planet, they will order immediate cuts in military expenditure and a curb on the waste of fuels by their armed forces.

In primitive times, military men were considered patriotic. With our globe approaching ecological collapse, it is now more patriotic to condemn the damage and wastefulness of militarism and to demand that politicians stop their fiddling while our world heats up.

If environmentally-conscious American and Chinese mothers told their children to look down on military men as big polluters and ecological Frankensteins, there would be some hope for our overheated globe.

Loving one’s country now means protecting it from the ecological damage caused by the ignorant and careless Neros of our age.

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po

Green Bill May Target Electronics

Loretta Fong – Updated on Jul 13, 2008 – SCMP

Electrical appliances could be one of the next categories of goods targeted by the Eco-Product Responsibility Bill, the environment chief said yesterday.

The bill, which aims to provide a legal framework for manufacturer responsibility schemes, first set its sights on plastic bags, which are to be taxed by the middle of next year.

Speaking on an RTHK radio programme, Secretary for Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said the administration would take into account the amount of pollution produced and the timeliness of a category of products when deciding which would be next regulated under the bill.

“With economic growth, consumer spending incentives will also increase. It is often quite common for people to dump electrical appliances,” he said.

Waste such as tyres and plastic containers were also on the list for consideration, he added.

Mr Yau also said the 50 cent tax on plastic bags would be implemented by the middle of next year. He said the government was still working out the details.

“Subsidiary legislation will be required when implementing the bill. We will use our time during the summer vacation before the next legislative term, so as to get ready for working out the details,” he said.

“And a working team will be formed for scrutinising the legislation in the new term. I hope the scrutiny will go fast and the bill will soon be implemented.”

On Thursday, lawmakers approved a 50 cent tax on bags handed out in stores.

Mr Yau said that at this stage it would be hard to estimate how many plastic bags would be saved every year as a result of the tax.

However, he said he hoped that through legislation it could help the public and business community gradually change their habits on the use of plastic bags.