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December 11th, 2007:

Bad Press for Hong Kong Pollution

Bad press for HK pollution

Updated on Dec 11, 2007

Attending an Islamic banking conference in Bahrain, I noticed a report in the Bahrain Tribune about pollution in Hong Kong.

It was embarrassing to have to try and defend the quality of life we know we should have in Hong Kong against comments condemning Hong Kong as “a filthy place to want to live or visit”.

Given the conference is attended by some of the leading figures of Islamic financing, an area our hapless government seeks closer ties with, it is time for Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to do something to stop Hong Kong being condemned internationally as an unfit place to work.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

UN to Slow Global Warming Beyond 2012

Published in SCMP:

The United States urged a UN climate meeting yesterday to drop a 2020 target for deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases by rich nations from guidelines for a new pact to slow global warming beyond 2012.

The comments by chief US negotiator Harlan Watson came as former US vice-president Al Gore warned that the US and China – the world’s biggest carbon emitters – needed to take action on climate change or “stand accountable before history for their failure to act” as he accepted his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

The UN wants the talks, which began on Monday last week, to end on Friday with an agreement to start negotiations on a new global climate treaty to be adopted at a meeting in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.

“It’s prejudging what the outcome should be,” Dr Watson said of a draft text suggesting that developed nations should aim to axe emissions of heat-trapping gases by between 25 and 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

“We don’t want to start out with numbers,” Dr Watson said.

A new pact would widen the UN’s Kyoto Protocol, which binds 36 industrial nations to cut emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Delegates said Washington and Tokyo argued strongly in meetings against mention of a range for long-term emissions cuts in a draft text, which lays out the guidelines for future talks. The draft also refers to scientific evidence that world emissions will have to be cut by at least 50 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050 to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

Poor nations want the rich to commit to the deepest cuts.

“The numbers are still in the text. There has been a lot of pressure to take them out,” one delegate with intimate knowledge of the draft negotiations said. He corrected an earlier statement that they had been cut out.

“This is unacceptable,” Hans Verolme, of the WWF environmental group, said of efforts to cut out goals. He noted the UN climate panel – on whose work the 25 to 40 per cent range was based – collected the Nobel Peace Prize along with Mr Gore yesterday.

“Our opinion about Kyoto has not changed,” Dr Watson said.

President George W. Bush opposes the Kyoto accord, saying it would damage the US economy and wrongly excludes 2008-2012 goals for developing nations such as China, India and Brazil. Mr Bush says the US will join a new global pact.

Mr Gore – defeated by Mr Bush for the presidency in the 2000 election – urged nations to impose a carbon tax, and called for a moratorium on the building of new coal plants without the capacity to trap carbon. He directed attention to the US and China.

“While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest carbon dioxide emitters – and most of all, my own country – that will need to make the boldest moves or stand accountable before history for their failure to act.”