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April 7th, 2008:

Campaigners Get On Their Bikes For Cycle-Path Protest

Annemarie Evans – SCMP – Updated on Apr 07, 2008

A hundred cyclists campaigned yesterday for a cycle path along Victoria Harbour by cycling along the waterfront – or rather, the limited parts of it they could get to.

Led by Ho Loy, the heritage activist and failed Legislative Council by-election candidate, marshals from the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance and Hong Kong Cycling Information net and a contingent from the Civic Party, they made their way from Cadogan Street in Kennedy Town over to Sheung Wan.

Some also planned to cycle back to Planning Department offices in North Point, to post a letter outlining the need for a harbour cycling path.

Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who saw the cyclists off at the start, said that unlike the New Territories there were no facilities for cyclists on Hong Kong Island.

“Why should a cycle path be seen as a luxury item? Why does everything have to be about the dollar sign?” she said.

Ms Ho said the Eastern District Council had asked the Planning Department for a boardwalk under the Island Eastern Corridor, which could easily double alongside a cycle path.

Organisers were unhappy with the way police split the group into batches of 10 cyclists on the road. “They forced us to start up separately,” said alliance member Martin Turner. “If we’re all in one group, it’s much safer. It would also have been less trouble for the police.”

A police community relations officer said the riders needed to split up in order not to block traffic.

Frenchman Richard Ferge, 36, and his English wife, Stani, are staying in Hong Kong for two weeks having taken several years off work to cycle around the world.

“It’s quite challenging to cycle here,” Mr Ferge said. “It’s not an environment with cyclists in mind. Particularly in Europe, people in cities are returning to the bicycle. But here and in Shanghai they have moved from the bicycle to the car.”

Legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who cycled with several other members of the Civic Party, said: “I think a bike path along Hong Kong Island is something people long for, so we’re in support of that.”

Cyclists Take To Streets In Campaign For Path

Timothy Chui – Monday, April 07, 2008 – The Standard

Forty cyclists became pathfinders yesterday when they carved a route from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan through congested streets to dramatize their fight for a harborfront cycle path.

The group included conservationist Ho Loy and Civic Party lawmakers Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Mandy Tam Heung-man and Audrey Eu Yuet- mee.

They stopped off at the North Point headquarters of the Planning Department to deliver a letter from the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance and Hong Kong Cycling

The HKCA and HKCI want a bicycle path included in the department’s seafront promenade blueprint.

Eu said the government’s policy of squeezing every dollar per square foot has left out considerations such as allowing more open space for the public on the south side of Victoria Harbour.

“We’ve been indoctrinated into an air-conditioned city environment to the extent that a cycle path is a luxury.”

Cycling enthusiast Dick Chan Tak- hung, 50, said: “The town isn’t bike friendly and forcing riders off sidewalks into sharing the road with car drivers is dangerous.”

Without providing adequate cycling networks, the government has put cyclists in harm’s way, Chan added.

There were two fatalities last year. A seven-year-old boy was killed in April and a 13-year-old boy the following month after being struck by vehicles while cycling.

Change Of Climate In The Business World

Sheila Bonini, Greg Hintz and Lenny Mendonca – Updated on Apr 07, 2008 – SCMP

Business executives are catching up with consumers in expressing concern about global warming and other environmental issues, two global surveys of senior executives and consumers by McKinsey indicate.

In a sea of change over the past 12 months, executives now regard the environment as the sociopolitical issue that will attract the most attention, by far, from the public and politicians over the next five years.

Consumers also want healthier and safer products, retirement and health-care benefits for employees, and much else besides, though their expectations vary by industry and geography.

What is more, they say clearly that the performance of an industry or a company on a wide range of societal issues affects not only its reputation but also their willingness to buy its products.

Each corporation faces a wide range of risks specific to the industries, regions, and countries in which it operates. But our surveys also reveal that companies have significant opportunities to differentiate themselves and to increase shareholder value by acting responsibly and by providing products and services that address the consumers’ concerns.

Executives and consumers are now equally concerned about environmental issues, including climate change. Fifty-one per cent of the executives – up 20 percentage points from 2006 – pick it as one of three sociopolitical issues that will attract the most attention during the next five years. Among consumers, 55 per cent agree. Almost 90 per cent of executives and consumers say they are personally very or somewhat worried about global warming, and clear majorities see a role for government as well as business and consumers in tackling climate change.

Taking action on global warming and other environmental issues seems critical for narrowing a trust gap between consumers and corporations. But many corporations would be wrong to focus almost all of their efforts on environmental issues and to forget about others that are important in their industries. The industries we covered in the survey – petroleum, food and beverages, retailing, and high-tech – have a common need to tackle environmental issues but otherwise face different societal challenges and opportunities.

In retailing, for example, consumer research suggests that measures such as reducing energy consumption and selling environment-friendly products are important for winning credibility as a socially responsible company.

In food and beverages, most respondents in most of the countries surveyed said they were willing to pay more for food and drink from companies that address the respondents’ most important concerns about health (food safety, fat content, the use of pesticides and genetically modified products) and the environment (waste and pollution, the impact of packaging and global warming).

Hi-tech companies could take a wide range of environmental and social actions to improve their reputations and differentiate themselves from competitors. But such strategies may be complex, as the measures that consumers emphasise vary widely by country.

Business leaders need a nuanced understanding of how the performance of companies in addressing social and environmental issues affects reputations and sales. By tracking consumer attitudes at a fine-grained level, they would improve their chances of gaining a competitive advantage and, at the same time, of addressing global problems.

Sheila Bonini is a consultant in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, Greg Hintz is a consultant in the New Jersey office and Lenny Mendonca is a director in the San Francisco office. This article was originally published in the McKinsey Quarterly

Mainland Cement Makers Seek Higher Prices, Technology Upgrades

Kandy Wong in Shanghai – Updated on Apr 07, 2008 – SCMP

For cement makers, it’s all about price and pollution. The mainland is experiencing surging steel and coal prices. But cement industry executives who met in Shanghai last week said the price of the basic raw material for buildings and toll-roads was only half that of international prices.

“A higher price will give investors a fair return,” said Tom Clough, a member of the executive committee of Switzerland’s Holcim, one of the world’s largest cement producers with a 40 per cent stake in A-share listed Huaxin Cement.

The average price for thermal coal rose 20 per cent last year and analysts said steel prices would increase 25 per cent this year on soaring demand for iron ore. But the average price for cement only rose 7 per cent last year to 600 yuan (HK$667) per tonne.

Industry executives said they needed higher prices, and not just for shareholders.

“Many Chinese cement companies need funds to upgrade their technology and enhance environmental protection,” said Mr Clough.

The cleaner way of making cement is the modern dry process. Limestone and other materials, such as sand, iron ore and clay, are put in a rotary kiln at temperatures as high as 1,450 degrees Celsius to produce black and nodular clinker, the precursor of cement.

The central government is encouraging mainland cement companies to adopt the dry process because it can be upgraded to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming.

But only about 55 percent of the industry uses this technology. The rest use a much older, cheaper technology, heating up limestone and coal in a simple big burner to producing cement, releasing sulphur and carbon dioxide into the air.

“Cement companies should always be aware of energy efficiency and emission reductions,” said National Development and Reform Commission official Jia Yinsong.

“The 59 low-temperature, heat-saving electricity generating machines used for the cement companies last year saved 1.4 million tonnes of coal and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 3.64 million tonnes.”

One way Beijing is attacking the pollution problem is consolidation.

The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission suggested early last year that the cement industry should be led by 12 pillar companies. It is a policy that would require industry consolidation to eliminate small, polluting companies.

But Huaxin Cement chief executive Li Yeqing has a different goal.

“The top 12 are already here in terms of capacity, but not in terms of performance and profitability,” he said. “What we need is modern ideas from global players by transforming technology into quality and performance because big cement companies should aim to be national brands.”

Mr Clough agreed. “China should have a slight change in mentality about big being impressive,” he said. “They should be concerned about profitability.”