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October 14th, 2008:

Slow Reaction To Pollution Woes

SCMP – Oct 14, 2008

Am I the only person to have noticed how quickly individual governments and economic organisations have been able to react to the financial meltdown?

Seemingly, with very little investigation as to what really has caused it and what can be done to prevent it again, they have been able to find billions. Yet when it comes to the environmental meltdown, such as polluted air and water and global warming, governments procrastinate – saying the research is inclusive, the free market will solve it and that it is just too expensive to fix.

The trillions of dollars currently being spent propping up a defective system would have gone a long way to tackling these problems and ensuring a safer, healthier place for our children.

The government’s lightning reflexes show that money is far more important than clean air or water. Let’s hope that in 20 or 30 years there will be enough left of both these so that the bankers can enjoy their money.

Gareth Jones, North Point

HK’s Competitiveness Threatened By Poor Air Quality: Survey

Angela Seet – SCMP – Updated on Oct 14, 2008

The seriousness of Hong Kong’s air pollution could affect the city’s competitiveness, the American Chamber of Commerce warned on Tuesday.

The chamber said its latest survey raised concerns about the impact pollution was having on attracting people to work in Hong Kong.

AmCham’s third annual environment survey of 318 member companies showed 40 per cent of them had difficulty attracting professionals to the territory. In addition, 69 per cent knew professionals who intended to leave; and 56 per cent said they would prefer not work in Hong Kong because of the bad air pollution.

AmCham chairman Steven DeKrey said: “This year’s findings reinforce the reality that air pollution not only threatens our health but also the long-term competitiveness of Hong Kong as a world-class talent centre in Asia.”

AmChan urged the government to take more action to improve air quality.

“This year’s survey suggests that Hong Kong can productively focus on other aspects of air pollution especially ground-level pollution,” Mr DeKrey said. “This is something the residents and the government can address together,” he added.

The respondents support the government rapidly phasing out all diesel-run vehicles (81 per cent), bringing air quality objectives in line with those of the World Health Organisation (80 per cent), and using the cleanest buses (72 per cent).

Other key findings included:

  • Some 97 per cent supported converting diesel-run vehicles to liquified petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Ninety-one per cent wanted more ‘pedestrian only’ zones in the city centre
  • Eighty-one per cent were prepared to pay more for cleaner public transport.

However, not many were confident things would change in the next 12 months. Nearly 90 per cent of respondents felt the “quality of the natural environment in Hong Kong will not improve”, the survey noted.

What Do You Think Of HK’s Low Rating For Raising Children?

SCMP – Updated on Oct 14, 2008

Having recently relocated to Hong Kong with three children under the age of nine, I was very surprised that the article on expatriates raising children in Hong Kong did not even mention air quality (“City rated poorly by expatriate parents”, October 9).

The number one issue we have faced since moving our children to the city is the air pollution.

Having moved from Australia, most people we talked to back home cited air pollution as the main reason they would not consider moving to Hong Kong regardless of the salary or opportunities on offer. The air and water pollution has turned out to be a much bigger issue than we imagined and would be the main reason for returning home.

The second issue is the cost of schooling and quality of food.

Last, outside play would be a consideration.

Danni Harnett, Pok Fu Lam