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Green Initiatives Urged To Keep Prices Down And Create Jobs

Albert Wong and Tiffany Lam, SCMP – Updated on Feb 16, 2009

The Civic Party and Green Sense have called on the government to use any surplus on green initiatives that can keep prices down and create jobs. The party said HK$6 billion should be set aside to subsidise buses to convert to cleaner engines.

The proposal is part of the party’s “green new deal” – regular proposals to create a greener city while offering more business opportunities.

It referred to studies showing air pollution costs the city HK$1.5 billion a year in direct health costs, and HK$21 billion in lost productivity. The HK$6 billion would go towards either fixing after-treatment devices onto current buses by the end of this year, or replacing buses at least 14 years old with ones that run on the latest green engines by 2010. There have been a range of forecasts on the government’s fiscal situation, with predictions ranging from a small surplus to a small deficit.

Conservancy group Green Sense issued several talking points, urging the government to use HK$11 billion to create a “greener economy”.

It proposed the government shell out HK$4 billion to develop renewable energy, creating 7,000 jobs for architects and engineers; HK$3 billion should be allotted to buttress the city’s recycling facilities; and HK$2 billion could be used to promote green roofs to reduce the heat-island effect.

Green Sense also said HK$1.5 billion should be used to improve the efficiency of air conditioners, with the rest spent on policies such as promoting eco-tourism and developing a local market for organic foods. It estimated the package should generate 17,200 jobs.

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