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September 22nd, 2012:

Clearer air at the end of the tunnel at last

Submitted by admin on Sep 22nd 2012, 12:00am



Howard Winn

For someone who has been bellyaching about Hong Kong’s air quality for the past 18 months, and for the NGOs that have been at it for much longer, it was music to the ears to hear the environment secretary say air quality – roadside pollution, in particular – was to be a priority for his department. It’s the best news on the environment front for the past eight years, or however long do-next-to-nothing Donald Tsang was chief executive.

But the most interesting point was that the government acknowledged, for the first time, the connection between air quality and public health. This is an enormous step, since it means that dealing with our foul air becomes not just a matter of cost but also a question of benefits in the form of better public health, a reduced number of avoidable deaths, lower occupancy of hospital beds and fewer visits to doctors. It’s believed the bureau intends to announce initial proposals for dealing with roadside pollution ahead of the chief executive’s policy speech in January. If C.Y. Leung’s administration delivers on this and achieves nothing else, it will still be light years ahead of the previous administration.

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Roadside pollution in Hong Kong

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