Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

January 11th, 2009:

Anger Grows Over Inaction On Air Pollution

Paggie Leung, SCMP – Updated on Jan 11, 2009

Public dissatisfaction with government and private sector efforts to ease air pollution has soared, a poll has shown, with nearly eight out of 10 residents unhappy with the situation.

The “Hong Kong’s Silent Epidemic” study was conducted by Baptist University’s Hong Kong transition project director Michael DeGolyer on behalf of Civic Exchange.

The poll surveyed 1,020 residents between September and October.

It found that most respondents – 77 per cent – were dissatisfied with efforts by top government officials to improve air quality, 22 percentage points higher than in a similar survey in 2001. Only 16 per cent said they were content with the status quo.

About two-thirds were disappointed with government attempts to fight air pollution, up 19 percentage points from 48 per cent in 2001. “The report demonstrates that the public is increasingly aware and concerned about air pollution, but feels its concerns are not being heard or addressed,” the study said.

Nearly seven in 10 interviewees were dissatisfied with the business sector’s efforts to deal with pollution, compared to about five in 10 in 2001.

Seventy-four per cent of those surveyed said they had complained to someone about air pollution.

Most cited the effects on their own or their family’s health.

Most people who did not complain believed “air pollution affects them but they don’t believe complaining would do any good and about half don’t know who to complain to”, the report said.

Part of the study was released on Monday. It found that one in five residents were considering leaving the city to escape pollution, while one in 10 were seriously considering such a move or had plans to go.

A government spokesman said it had been implementing strong measures to control emissions at source, especially from roads and power stations. There were also joint plans with Guangdong to reduce smog.

The government said it was reviewing air quality objectives, including guidelines published by the World Health Organisation.

“The review will propose new objectives and a long-term air quality management strategy,” he added.