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May, 2008:

Law Aims To Cut Sulphur-Dioxide Emissions

Environmental Protection Department

The new law requiring the use of ultra low sulphur diesel in industrial and commercial processes will be tabled to lawmakers on May 21, the Environmental Protection Department says. If endorsed, it will take effect from October 1, cutting local sulphur-dioxide emissions by about 2,480 tonnes a year.

The Air Pollution Control (Fuel Restriction) (Amendment) Regulations, gazetted today, mandates the use of clean diesel with sulphur content of no more than 0.005 % by weight in industrial and commercial processes.

Sulphur dioxide is a major pollutant responsible for respiratory illness. It plays a significant role in causing regional air pollution and reacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere and transforms into fine particles which impair visibility and contribute to smog formation.

The Hong Kong Government and the Guangdong Provincial Government reached a consensus in 2002 to cut sulphur dioxide emissions 40% by 2010, using 1997 as the base year. The new law will help reach the reduction target, enabling Hong Kong to improve the smog problem, air quality and public health.

It will also bring Hong Kong to the forefront of using clean fuel: At present, nowhere in the world is clean fuel being used in this comprehensive manner.

The new law will not cause any major impact on the operational environment of the industrial and commercial sectors. It could create a ‘win-win’ situation for the environment and the business sector, showing that protecting the environment need not be at the expense of economic growth.

Decontaminate Polluted Sites In China

FTA with China: Environmental awareness growing

5:00AM Thursday May 15, 2008 – The New Zealand Herald

Former trade commissioner Merv Stark is spearheading a push by a New Zealand firm to decontaminate polluted sites in China.

Stark, a director of Environmental Decontaminations Ltd (EDL), says demand for environmental technology is enormous in developing countries like China. The best prospects are in old industrial areas in inland provinces where there has been less attention has been given to environmental issues until the last decade.

But with China now paying an enormous price in galloping pollution, which is badly affecting the quality of its air, waterways and soils, the pressure to do something about it is intensifying. Beijing has spent enormous sums trying to clean up the smoggy air in time for the Olympics. But the pollution goes well beyond its borders, resulting in a yellow haze affecting Hong Kong and even Japan.

Environmental services is one of the key sectors that China agreed to designate within the FTA.

The environmental industry in China was valued at US$24 billion in 2004 and is estimated to have increased by 15 per cent in each subsequent year.

Stark says EDL’s particular decontamination technology is appropriate for a good percentage of contaminated sites that are required to be re-mediated under China’s obligations with the Stockholm Convention on the elimination or persistent organic pollutants to meet a 2028 deadline for phase-out.

Such technology doesn’t come cheap: One project on soil remediation is valued at US$31 million ($40 million).

China has enlisted support from the World Bank to fund environmental clean-up projects. Stark says companies like EDL have an opportunity to work with such agencies and the Chinese Government to obtain approval for the technology and tender for projects.

He says Zhejiang province has identified 37 sites that are appropriate for decontamination with an average value for each project in excess of US$15 million. Lianoning province is also well advanced in singling out contaminated sites.

But EDL has not ventured beyond these locations yet as the technology is too capital intensive to spread the net far.

Both Stark and NZTE China Markets manager Pat English say there are lots of opportunities for Kiwi companies to get involved in China’s environmental cleanup. But English says the problem is finding project funding: The Chinese sometimes expect foreign governments to support their companies work.

“I look out the window and I see enormous environmental opportunities,” says Trade Minister Phil Goff. “You can see the market.”

Prime Minister Helen Clark is also keen to make sure that that New Zealand companies operating in the environmental services are alert to the new opportunities that the free trade deal brings.

Clark notes there is a mechanism for dialogue in the environment side agreement to the FTA.

She would also like to see China and its partners in the Climate Change Partnership extend an invitation to New Zealand to join their technology based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

English says other NZ companies have tried their luck. One environmental project was involved setting up a mini eco system on Shanghai’s Chongming Island: “It didn’t come off.”

Christchurch’s HotRot Exports, which produces high-quality composts, has attracted Chinese attention. It says research indicates that 30 per cent to 40 per cent of landfill in New Zealand is made up of organic waste, contributing to problematic leachate and methane gas emissions. The HotRot in-vessel composting system is an environmentally superior and cost-effective alternative to landfill that also produces top-quality compost just as useful to China as New Zealand.

Pollution A Risk Factor In Blood Clots, Study Finds

Loretta Fong, Bloomberg and Reuters – Updated on May 14, 2008

Hongkongers were warned yesterday to be alert to the risk of developing blood clots in their legs after research showed that air pollution could be a factor in the potentially fatal condition.

A Hong Kong University blood expert said that while the findings were not conclusive, they could be an indicator that the city should take notice of.

A Harvard University study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday, is the first research into air pollution’s effects on clotting in the veins.

It suggested that long-term exposure to air pollution heavy in small particles might cause blood clots in the legs, similar to the condition known as deep vein thrombosis that affects air travellers.

Researchers examined 870 patients in Italy who had been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in their legs from September 1995 to 2005, and compared their risk to another 1,210 people in a control group, who did not have DVT. The findings showed that for every increase in particulate matter of 10 micrograms per square metre in the previous year, the risk of deep vein thrombosis also went up 70 per cent.

Deep vein thrombosis forms in the vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Clots can break off and travel to the lungs, blocking blood flow there, possibly leading to lung damage or death.

Andrea Baccarelli, the study’s lead author and associate professor of environmental health at Harvard’s school of public health in Boston, said that doctors might wish to consider pollution as a new risk factor for clots.

James Chim Chor-sang, an associate professor in the department of medicine (haematology) at Hong Kong University, said the finding could be an indicator.

“Air pollution is a worldwide problem, as well as here in Hong Kong, so people should take notice of it,” he said.

But he added that it was too early to tell whether long-term exposure to particulate air pollution meant a higher risk of DVT.

“I believe another study should be done to confirm the association between the two,” he said.

“In the case of Hong Kong, it is also hard to say now as we are short of data on the number of people with DVT.”

He also noted that the incidence of DVT among Asians was 40 to 50 per cent less than people in western countries.

The green group Friends of the Earth said air pollution was already known as a risk factor in other conditions such as heart disease and lung ailments, and the government should work harder to control vehicle emissions.

Director Edwin Lau Che-feng said the most threatening particulate matter was roadside pollutants caused by heavy diesel vehicles, buses, container trucks and trucks.

“When you walk in the street, you can see black smoke coming out from the car pipes,” he said. “And since the streets in Hong Kong are packed, people such as street hawkers suffer a lot.”

The Government Says Beijing’s Air Is Better

Hazy on the detail

The government says Beijing’s air is better, but experts doubt its claims – and its commitment to cleaner air after the Games

Shi Jiangtao – Updated on May 14, 2008 – SCMP

Beijing was counting its blessings when it rained on the morning of a marathon trial late last month, just in time to disperse thick smog that had blanketed the Olympics host city for the previous five days.

The shroud of smog had prompted fresh fears that the capital’s choking air pollution, despite the government’s repeated pledges, is still threatening to spoil the country’s coming-out party. Although the chilly spring rain, the most in five years, couldn’t have been more timely, washing away some of the dust, it will take much more to restore public faith in Beijing’s ability to tackle pollution and deliver a “green” Olympics.

Beijing seems to have basked in the success of its frequently ruthless efforts to remake itself in the past decade. Underground lines and roads have been expanded, new venues and high-rise buildings built and the city’s historic quarters demolished.

But the environmental impact of the construction boom and the headlong rush to urbanisation has created environmental problems the city authorities have been unable to solve.

Beijing has taken many measures to combat deteriorating air quality. There have been efforts to reduce coal consumption by converting coal-fired boilers to clean energy sources, expanding the use of natural gas, shutting and relocating polluting industries, planting millions of trees every year and imposing stricter emissions standards for new cars.

Boosting environmental investment is another key move to allay fears that the Olympics will be blighted by smog. Yet many Beijingers are sceptical about the official claim that air quality is improving.

Beijing has spent more than 120 billion yuan (HK$134 billion) on pollution control since 1998, with investment in environmental measures topping 25 billion yuan in 2006. Officials say the amount spent last year was similar to the 2006 figure. The capital has also pinned its hopes on banning private cars in certain areas and halting industrial production and earthworks at construction sites during the three weeks of the Games.

City authorities have also applied tougher vehicle emission and fuel quality standards, and in March they banned the sale of new petrol-fuelled light vehicles that fail to meet the Euro IV standard. But the move was described by mainland experts as a largely symbolic step ahead of the Olympics as it failed to deal with the more than 3 million cars already on the road in Beijing, which are the main cause of the city’s smog.

The restrictions would not make much difference to the capital’s air quality in the short term, they said.

Wang Canfa , an environmental expert at the China University of Political Science and Law, said the new policy failed to impress many due to widespread doubts over the accuracy of pollution statistics.

The capital began implementing the Euro I standard in 1999 and Euro II in 2002. The standard was raised to Euro III in 2005, when European countries implemented Euro IV. Although the city has done relatively well in controlling the two main air pollutants – sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide – it lags far behind in tackling fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone, the two biggest health hazards.

Beijing’s average ambient concentration of particulate matter with a median diameter of less than 10 micrometres – the predominant pollutant in most mainland cities – jumped by 13.4 per cent, to 161 micrograms per cubic metre, in 2006, well above the 100-microgram national standard recommended for residential areas and more than double the World Health Organisation’s 70 microgram guideline for developing countries.

But most industrial countries and the WHO believe much smaller particulate matter – particles of 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter – represent a more accurate standard for evaluating airborne pollution. Fine particulate matter from the burning of fossil and other types of fuels, industrial emissions and dust pollution from construction sites is believed to be linked to cancer, respiratory disease and other fatal illnesses.

Mortality rates among the mainland’s urban population have soared in recent years due to widespread air pollution. About 358,000 people in 600 mainland cities died from pollution-related illnesses in 2004 and health costs from premature deaths and serious illness associated with air pollution were estimated at 152.7 billion yuan, according to a government report.

Abnormal ground-level concentrations of ozone – a gas produced by mixed emissions from industry, vehicle exhausts and fuel vapours in sunlight – can cause long-term damage to health, according to WHO studies.

Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau recorded 55 days in 2006 when ozone concentrations exceeded the national standard, which is far higher than international safety standards.

The most prominent drop-out from the Olympics so far is Ethiopian distance great Haile Gebrselassie, who announced earlier this year that he would not run in the Olympic marathon because of concerns over Beijing’s air quality.

The Games were further diminished by warnings from various sports experts and professionals that pollution and the constant threat of smog posed serious health risks to all athletes competing this summer.

But the authorities have rejected such criticism, insisting that the key air pollution indices such as dust particles, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide had shown marked improvement over the years.

Yu Xiaoxuan , director of the environmental activities department at the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Bocog), said assumptions should not be made based on feelings.

Jin Ruilin , an environmental expert at Peking University, said the city authorities had made huge efforts to cut pollution and green the city ahead of the Games. “The air quality is getting better in the past two years thanks to the support of the central government and the involvement of neighbouring provinces.”

But he and other experts expressed concerns over the authorities’ lack of motivation to tackle the root causes of pollution rather than providing a temporary fix for the Games.

“Temporary measures, such as traffic bans, may be effective to clear up the sky for the Olympics, but what about the real problems,” asked Professor Jin, who predicted Beijing’s pollution problems would return immediately following the event.

Although experts are divided over whether the government should restrict increasing private car ownership, they agree that authorities have done little to improve traffic flows, which continue to worsen as more people take to the roads, and which have exacerbated the city’s pollution.

“It is a shame that the authorities only care about the air quality during the Games and everything they’re doing at the moment seems to be for the Olympics only,” said Beijing-based political analyst Liu Junning .

Li Dun , with the Research Centre on Contemporary China at Tsinghua University, criticised the government’s lack of transparency in pollution-related information.

Although government officials have been keen to deny accusations they have falsified pollution statistics to mask the capital’s air quality problems,

Professor Li said authorities had done a poor job in responding to public queries, such as the collection of pollution-monitoring data, and failed to shed more light on their policy of selective dissemination of information.

Like many experts who have cast doubt over the city’s claims of victory in improving air quality, Gilbert Van Kerckhove, a consultant to Bocog, said pollution was worse than the official figures indicated.

Despite Beijing’s efforts to improve public transport, and the fact that official statistics claim a substantial increase in blue-sky days, pollution levels remain high – too high for endurance sports and for people with any respiratory weakness, he said. “I hoped Beijing could prove to the world that it is indeed making a tremendous progress,” he said.

Professor Wang said the central and municipal governments should think about relocating their offices from the heart of the city to suburban areas.

“It will take tremendous courage for the government to heed the suggestion, which involves the interests of hundreds of thousands of officials,” he said. “But without a dramatic change in urban planning, a real solution to the city’s pollution and traffic woes seems unlikely.”

Founder Of Green Power Resumes Activism

Founder of environmental group resumes activism after 2 decades

Joshua But – SCMP – Updated on May 12, 2008

After two decades, the founder of local environmental group Green Power, John Chan Koon-chung, has decided to resume his role as a green activist, driven by a sense of urgency against climate change.

Better known for founding City Magazine in the 1970s, Mr Chan, a newly elected board member of Greenpeace International, said global warming had evolved into a “round-the-corner disaster”.

“We only talked about that in the 80s, while no one would have imagined how quickly it is happening,” the Beijing-based writer and cultural critic said.

He was a member of the government’s advisory committee on environmental protection before leaving Hong Kong in the early 1990s, partly because of bureaucratic frustrations.

“The agenda was set by the administration, which discussed targets and figures instead of raising incentives on environmental protection,” he said.

Thanks to Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, Mr Chan said global awareness of climate change was now much higher.

While ideas and solutions were not lacking, now all that was needed were clues on implementation.

“I am optimistic on willpower, but pessimistic on reason [in the fight against global warming],” he said.

“We have to mobilise the masses and tell them their participation can make a difference.”

Referring to the green measures adopted in Hong Kong, he said he was not happy with the fact that the city was not required to commit to any greenhouse gas emission limits under the Kyoto Protocol as it was part of China.

“It is a shame we hide behind the shadow of the mainland on environmental protection. Looking at the per capita GDP of the city, I do not see a reason why we should not shoulder the responsibility against global warming,” he said.

Contrary to Hong Kong, Mr Chan said the mainland had advanced quickly in promoting green measures in recent years.

“Use of compact fluorescent lamps is now state policy, while the Olympics this year also offers an opportunity to introduce more green products,” he said, adding that renewable energy, such as solar power, was becoming more prevalent, given the extensive market.

Officials’ achievements on environmental protection on the mainland were now considered in their work assessments, he said.

Mr Chan said many green measures were not new to the public and feared people would be tired of more promotions.

“Perhaps you and your family can go and travel by riding a bus on holiday, instead of driving your own car.

“You can also switch off electrical appliances instead of leaving them on standby mode when you go out for dinner,” he said. “They are concrete but simple steps.”

Environment Ministry Bans Crop Burn-Offs

Al Guo in Beijing – SCMP – Updated on May 12, 2008

The newly established Ministry of Environmental Protection has banned burn-offs of crop stubble in nine provinces and municipalities in North China from May to September, a clear attempt to improve Beijing’s air quality ahead of the Olympics.

Air pollution from post-harvest burn-offs has long been recognised as a major environmental problem but provincial governments have never totally banned the activity because there no other cost-effective alternatives for farmers wanting to clear their land of crop residue.

In a statement published at the ministry’s website today, the environment watchdog ordered nine provinces and municipalities â Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces as well as Beijing and Tianjin â “must reinforce an all-around crop stem burning ban” during the period.

Top provincial and city officials will be appointed to monitor the ban’s implementation and those who fail to act with an iron first would be punished, according to the statement.

Satellite-assisted monitoring results from 2004 to last year revealed that every administrative region on the list major crop stubble burn-offs which “polluted the environment, harmed people’s health and negatively affected traffic,” the ministry statement said.

The ban is believed to be only one of a series of measures taken to improve Beijing’s air quality as the August Olympic Games fast approaches.

Critics of the games have long complained that Beijing’s air pollution is so bad that it poses a threat to athletes during outdoor competition.

To improve air quality, Beijing plans to order at least half of the vehicles off the street during the Olympic Games to reduce vehicle exhaustions. Water trucks will also spray city streets on a regular basis to keep dust down.

Beijing’s neighbours, especially Hebei province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, had been ordered to plant trees in large-scale in the past few years to stop dust from being blown to the capital.

A wide-ranging smoking ban has also been imposed in Beijing since May 1 to keep even a whiff of smoke out of public places.

Green Cars Take Slow Lane To Popularity

Kandy Wong – SCMP – Updated on May 12, 2008

Hybrid car owner Liu Gang drives home the message – it will take him 10 years to recover his investment in Toyota’s Prius, but the “green” car saves him fuel costs on a daily basis.

As market watchers question the industry’s commitment to environment-friendly vehicles, senior management at various motorworks have said gradual technological improvement instead of swift replacement probably will establish the popularity of green cars over time.

They were speaking on the sidelines of the Beijing Car Show held last month.

“It’ll not be a big bang of a change,” said executive vice-president Soh Weiming of Volkswagen China, which will put more focus on diesel-engine cars domestically. “But [the switch to green cars] will go on from region to region.”

Cynics remained unconvinced, however, as to how carmakers could promote green cars in a market where pollution is part of daily life, as they did not unveil any solid marketing plan.

“If I tell you that you can recoup the investment in a green car in less than two years, then you may be persuaded to buy,” said Cheng Mei-wei, vice-president of Ford Motor.

“But nowadays, it takes up to 12 years for consumers to recover their investment in a hybrid”, which commands a price premium of as much as 100 per cent over a conventional car.

Mr Cheng added it was not necessary to have a completely brand-new model but just the installation of green technology in existing models.

More than a dozen green cars – with fuel cells, diesel and electric engines – were featured in the show last month with the theme, “Looking into a green future”.

In sharp contrast to reality and the theme, Mr Liu said fewer than 50 hybrids were running on the roads of Beijing “because carmakers are not keen to promote their green cars”.

Many analysts are sceptical about the focus on going green. They believe that green cars are probably just a marketing gimmick rather than a practical move by car manufacturers.

A Prius is priced between 250,000 yuan (HK$279,350) and 300,000 yuan, about twice the price of models such as Toyota’s 1.8-litre Corolla and Honda’s 1.5-litre Civic, which are both popular with mainland consumers.

The state is expected to play its part to promote the green revolution, such as offering tax concessions, but that often takes time to implement.

Mainland media reported recently that the government is discussing the possibility of slashing the 17 per cent value-added tax in the second half to lower the cost of buying a hybrid or diesel-engine car. Customers may only have to bear a 10 per cent consumption tax in the future.

Shi Yaobin, chief director of the Ministry of Finance’s Taxation Department, said at a motor conference in Tianjin in September last year that the government was working on preferential tax policies to promote low-fuel-consuming and environment-friendly vehicles.

Mr Liu touted the concept that a hybrid does not have less power than a conventional car but said green cars should target young consumers who are fascinated by new technologies.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan Motor, may have shared that vision when he said: “Young consumers should be the real targets for green cars as `zero emission’ may not be an issue for this generation.”

Global carmakers such as General Motors, Toyota and Honda, displayed their green models at the show, while local carmakers, including Anhui-based Chery Automobile, Hangzhou’s Geely Holding Group, BYD Auto of Shenzhen, Chongqing Changan Automobile and Jilin-based First Auto Work Group also showcased theirs.

However, the domestic carmakers did not disclose details of their new technologies.

Shanghai General Motors, the 50-50 joint venture of SAIC Motor Corp and General Motors China, will launch its first hybrid Buick LaCrosse next month. Nissan will launch electric vehicles in the United States and Japan by 2010, and globally by 2012. Honda, meanwhile, started selling its Civic hybrids at its joint venture with Dongfeng Motor at end of last year.

Besides the models and their launch schedules, carmakers have yet to announce plans on production capacity, sales targets and prices.

The 50-50 joint venture FAW-Toyota was the earliest to launch a hybrid on the mainland, unveiking it two years ago. Last year, it sold 414 Prius units in a market where about 6 million passenger cars were sold.

“The company will take steps to move hybrid technologies as China continues to drive a fuel-efficient economy,” said Kevin Wale, General Motors China’s managing director.

Similarly, Mr Ghosn said: “There are no obstacles to introducing green cars in China, [particularly since] the Chinese government talks about harmonious development.”

But until something more encouraging develops, carmakers will maintain a trial mentality.

Vision Of A Cleaner, Greener Future For China

President Hu seeks Japanese expertise to build the vision of a cleaner, greener future for China

Ng Tze-wei in Tokyo – Updated on May 10, 2008 – SCMP

Environmental protection was highlighted again as a key area for Sino-Japanese co-operation by President Hu Jintao yesterday as he visited a state-of-the-art recycling factory near Tokyo.

Mr Hu expressed a wish that Japanese technology could be brought to China during his tour of a PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle recycling factory in the Kawasaki Eco-Town, an environment-conscious hi-tech zone that the Japanese government pioneered in 1997.

“We want to introduce Japan’s advanced technology on the environment to China,” Mr Hu said, adding that environmental protection should be a “new highlight” of Sino-Japanese co-operation.

Few details were released on what Mr Hu saw inside the factory, but if he had followed the itinerary of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on his scouting tour last month, the president would have seen a used bottle transformed into a piece of clothing.

China, the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States, has been much criticised by the international community for its worsening pollution after years of pursuit of GDP growth.

Japan and China have been trumpeting environmental protection and energy conservation as the major areas for strengthening bilateral ties in recent years, and this priority has been further sealed during Mr Hu’s historic visit to Japan this time.

Mr Hu and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said in their landmark joint declaration on Wednesday that “co-operation in the areas of energy and environment is a responsibility owed to our children and the international community” and therefore must be strengthened.

The two leaders further listed global warming as one of the international challenges that China and Japan must tackle together in the declaration – the fourth such communique between the two Asian neighbours, which touched on an array of issues key to Sino-Japanese relations.

Japan hailed as a success the fact that China had “taken notice” of Japan’s proposal to halve emissions by 2050, and a sector-by-sector approach to cutting emissions, in a separate document that the two governments agreed upon on Wednesday.

China’s acknowledgement was seen as a shift in policy since it had always said no to emission targets, claiming that they would hurt economic growth.

Hosting the G8 summit this summer at Hokkaido, Japan has been endeavouring to get the international community to agree to a framework for climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Formulated by the UN, the protocol requires industrial countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 1992 levels by an average of about 5 per cent by 2012, but developing economies such as China and India are not bound by the pact.

Getting China to participate in a new pact in the post-Kyoto era is crucial to Japan’s new role as a world leader in the battle against climate change. So far China has agreed only to participate in the construction of such a framework.

Mr Hu also called on Japan’s business sector on Thursday to give China a hand as it tries to transform into a sustainable and environmentally-friendly society, listing environmental protection and energy conservation as the top areas for joint business ventures. But it is not only about making money for Japan; China’s environmental protection efforts are a topic of high concern to some Japanese legislators who believe it can bring the two countries closer together or tear the relationship apart.

“Other than the gas exploration rights in the East China Sea and the poisoned dumpling incident, environmental issues will also affect Sino-Japanese relations,” said House of Representatives delegate Tomoko Abe of the Social Democratic Party.

“China has been criticising Japan for its wartime aggression and militarism, but China should realise that it also causes problems that are affecting other countries.

“For example, the environmental degradation in China has been affecting Japan and other neighbouring countries. The yellow sand and dust blowing from China bothers Japan every spring.”

A Japanese House delegate for the ruling Liberal Democrats, Masazumi Gotoda, was also concerned but for a different reason.

“The environment is not only a problem for the Chinese, or a problem for the Japanese. It’s a problem for all of mankind,” he said.

“Environmental protection and energy conservation are subjects that both sides must discuss. It’s a crucial element in pushing forward Japanese-Chinese relations.”

Islanders Want To Trash Incinerator Plan

Vivienne Chow – Updated on May 09, 2008 – SCMP

Residents of Cheung Chau protested last night against a proposal to build a waste incinerator nearby, saying it would ruin the outlying island’s clean air and its tourism industry.

About 100 Cheung Chau residents met Environmental Protection Department officials in a two-hour meeting to express their discontent.

Cheung Chau Rural Committee chairman Yung Chi-ming said the proposed incinerator, which could be built on Shek Kwu Chau, would severely damage livelihoods on the island.

“The incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau is only 2,500 metres away from Cheung Chau. When southwesterly winds blow, which happens a lot in summer, the smoke and pollutants will be blown directly to Cheung Chau,” he said.

“We are always proud of our clean air. We were not affected during Sars and we don’t even have cars on the island. But building this incinerator is going to pollute our clean air, which is pretty much the selling point of Cheung Chau.” Mr Yung said construction of the incinerator would involve land reclamation. “Fishermen are worried that the construction will affect the water currents … it might also scare the fish away.”

Mr Yung said a petition had been launched this week and thousands of signatures were expected to be collected.

After last night’s meeting he said: “The meeting went smoothly. The officials said they would consider our opinion. There is still one year left before the decision. We will keep fighting. I believe we stand a chance.”

Resident Augustine Lam Wai-hung said he understood the need for waste disposal facilities but more information on wind directions and how the incinerator would operate was needed in order for locals to accept such a proposal.

“It’s like building a rubbish station outside your home. Of course people are against it,” Mr Lam said.

The department said no decision had been made to build the incinerator, and assessment of the proposed locations would take 18 to 24 months.

Punished Over Pollution


HENAN – Almost 250 officials have been punished for not following environmental-protection rules in the past five years, the Henan Shangbao reports. These officials approved the construction of factories without considering their ecological impact, or allowed factories to discharge pollutants.