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December 30th, 2007:

Pollution Control Measures

SCMP Dec 30, 2007

With pollution control measures there must be a level playing field

For a long time I resisted buying a domestic air filter on ethical grounds.

It seems quite repellent that well-off families can cocoon their children and provide them with better air to breathe, whilst the extra electricity they use to do this is adding to the environmental problem for the majority of people.

Over my 14 years in Hong Kong I have seen the pollution worsen and as I became a mother to two young boys (the youngest of whom is asthmatic) this began to cause me more and more concern. So of course, I finally cracked and bought one too.

How could I let my personal stance cause my children to suffer and refuse to perhaps limit the long-term damage to them.

Now I am using one I am even more concerned about the environmental impact as obviously the effect of keeping windows shut on days which would be cool enough for a breeze, inevitably lead to more use of the air-conditioner too.

Your paper has carried stories and letters about road pricing – which is effectively exactly the same thing.

The well-off won’t think twice about driving/being chauffeured around town, just as they don’t in London.

In fact it creates a completely two-tier society, where some are able to move freely about the centre of the city laughing and making jokes about how they are privileged to enjoy the effects of keeping others off the streets.

For those other people, especially those with young families living on the fringes of the zone, it has caused a logistical nightmare – causing people to drive further in the terrible congestion just outside the zone to, for example, alternative supermarkets and swimming pools.

Pollution and energy consumption are literally vital issues and should be addressed strongly, quickly and on an egalitarian basis by the government and the whole population for the benefit of the whole population.

Emma Hurlston-Tseng, Pok Fu Lam