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August 2nd, 2008:

Search For HK Environmental Champions

Dan Kadison, SCMP – Aug 02, 2008

The “Hong Kong Earth Champions Quest” has begun.

An international group started a search yesterday to find extraordinary Hongkongers who are improving and sustaining the environment locally and globally.

“Our point of view is look around you and notice what is working, and they’re the people we’d love you to nominate,” said Earth Champions Foundation chief executive Fiona Mathews at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Central.

“It actually could be you, or it could be your neighbour, or it could be a colleague at work, or it could be your government,” she said.

Ms Mathews – a former member of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development – created the organisation in 2000 to prove to her son that the world was filled with inspiring role models.

The competition, which has already taken place in Australia and Switzerland, honours people for their work in such environmental categories as water, air, energy, transport, biodiversity and buildings.

“We have ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and that’s what we want you to help us find,” Ms Mathews said at the kick-off event.

The group started accepting nominations yesterday. Nomination forms can be found at

Ms Mathews was joined yesterday by guest speakers Otto Poon Lok-to, chairman of the strategic committee for the Council for Sustainable Development; Christine Loh Kung-wai, chief executive of the think-tank Civic Exchange; and Robert Gibson, director of sustainable development at John Swire & Sons.

Sir Crispin Tickell, a climate change expert and chair of the judging panel, delivered the keynote speech. “The question is what’s in it for all of us – individual, communities, governments, the world? The answer is survival … we need champions, and today you’re being asked to become them,” Sir Crispin said.

Past “Earth Champions” have ranged from an entire primary and secondary school in Switzerland to a 93-year-old Australian conservationist who created two nature reserves and a national park in her homeland.

The South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) is a media sponsor of the “Hong Kong Earth Champions Quest”.

There is no age requirement. Nominees must reside in Hong Kong and must have enhanced the city with their environmentally friendly ideas and actions.

What Do You Think Of The Ban On Idling Engines?

Updated on Aug 02, 2008 – SCMP

I am responding to the claim [made by a union representative] that overheated vehicles could become time bombs (“Heatstroke fear cited in campaign against idling ban”, July 31). Idling engines are already time bombs for every man, woman and child pedestrian. Also, how about the people who have to live and work near these vehicles? In Arran Street, Mong Kok (and other places) the engines of the coaches to the mainland are constantly idling, even if there are no passengers or drivers inside. How about the people working near these vehicles? The nearby 7-Eleven does not have a door and is open to the elements. What about the health of the young people working there and the newspaper vendors and other workers? The next generation is going to have terrible health problems if this problem is not addressed and we do not see drastic improvements. We have had enough of the debates and time-wasting discussions. We need action now.

Suzanne Chung, Mong Kok

To reduce levels of air pollution in the city, the government has proposed a number of methods to solve the problem, including banning idling engines. However, this well-intentioned proposal does not take into account the real situation. For example, taxi drivers would have to restart the engines of their vehicles several times a day if idling engines were banned. This would drain their batteries. Also on a hot summer’s day, the temperature inside vehicles will rise to 40 degrees Celsius within minutes if the air conditioning has been turned off (“Heatstroke fear cited in campaign against idling ban”, July 31). This makes drivers and passengers very uncomfortable when they are left sitting in the vehicles. I think it is possible to have a win-win result, by adopting a flexible policy. Vehicles would be allowed to keep their air conditioners running during hot summer days. Also, some cars, such as taxis, could be excluded from the legislation if their engines are idling for short periods. By adopting this approach we could see an improvement in air quality and still ensure a comfortable working environment for drivers.

I. K. Li, Ngau Chi Wan

Action Needed On Pollution

Updated on Aug 02, 2008 – SCMP

I have been shocked by some of the extreme weather conditions in Hong Kong.

The pollution index record was broken earlier this week (“Blackest day yet for air pollution”, July 28).

I can still remember the Action Blue Sky campaign television commercials last year, but I have seen no positive results.

Our government reported a substantial financial surplus. I wonder how much of this sum will be spent on environmental protection.

Officials are always saying that they won’t forget about the needs of their citizens, that they care about rising inflation and other important issues.

However, do they really care about our environment? They must appreciate that clean air is a necessity for Hong Kong people.

Ng Tse-ting, Kwai Chung