Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

January 19th, 2009:

Hong Kong To Revise Air Pollution Index

ChinaCSR – January 16, 2009

Edward Yau, the secretary of the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong, has stated that Hong Kong will work out a range of measures this year and hold public consultations with the aim of updating the air pollution index.

Yau also stressed that he hoped that the revised rule on parking would be enacted soon.

Yau says he was inspired by the National Development and Reform Commission’s guideline planning for the Pearl River Delta Development in which cooperation between Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region on the environment was mentioned and a regional green living area was scheduled. Yau said that Hong Kong’s air pollution index which was initiated in the 80’s is already outdated and the consultants’ report is almost complete. A series of measures is expected to be launched within 12 months and the government will consult with the public on the steps to adopt the new measures.

Currently, Hong Kong refers to the World Health Organization for its air pollution index. If it wants to reach the highest standard, it needs to reduce sulfur dioxide emission from its power stations by 95% and change the use of coal fuel power.

Youth Speak Truth On State Of Air Quality

Updated on Jan 19, 2009 – SCMP

Sometimes it takes youth to speak the truth to those in power. Such was the case when 500 Hong Kong residents gathered on January 10 to discuss the growing epidemic of air pollution.

Hong Kong’s air is toxic and getting worse.

Recent studies reveal sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter 200 to 400 per cent above the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to protect basic health. The Hedley Environmental Index, developed by University of Hong Kong professor Anthony Hedley, shows the real costs in monetary and health terms.

Hong Kong suffers an average of four additional unnecessary deaths a day due to airborne toxins.

Hongkongers get the message. A survey released last month by the Hong Kong Transition Project reported that 81 per cent of local adults want the government to make reversing air pollution a priority – an almost 200 per cent increase from public opinion in 2001.

Two thirds of Hong Kong residents regularly avoid outdoor exercise and shield themselves with air conditioning; 500,000 are seriously considering leaving the city permanently.

The participants at the Air We Breathe conference, organised by Civic Exchange, sought more comprehensive solutions. Their suggestions were numerous, innovative and thoughtful, yet none seem to be on the government’s radar.

Refreshingly, it was the teenage contingent who put the issues to Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah most clearly. Their message to Mr Yau, who attended the conference, was: “You have the power; you should act. This is an issue of life and death, and the lives are ours. Fix it – now.”

Among the numerous fixes suggested, the top three were:

  • Set legally binding standards (not unenforced guidelines) for air quality, using human health as the guiding principle;
  • Adopt the latest WHO standards, which are based on the best science available to mankind; and
  • Commit to a near-term target for reaching the pollutant levels (say, 2011) and assign a blue-ribbon team, amply supported by government experts, to come up with a plan.

The people of Hong Kong have spoken. It’s time for the government to act.

Rachel Fleishman, Mid-Levels

Buses Create ‘Repulsive’ Bay

Updated on Jan 19, 2009 – SCMP

If anyone has any doubts that idling engines cause terrible pollution, then they need only go to Repulse Bay beach on any day of the week.

Lines of parked tourist coaches can be seen there for hours each day, each empty (save for the driver) and each spewing clouds of filth from their idling engines.

They should be obliged to turn their engines off while their tourists stroll to the beachside temple.

It is most unfortunate that so many of these tourists choose to break the law by smoking on that beach, but nothing is done about that either.

As one of Hong Kong’s prime tourist destinations, this level of pollution gives a poor impression of our lack of control of idling engines.

What is more, the seemingly permanent unsightly construction site between the road and the beach gives the whole area a shabby appearance and that mess has been there for years.

We really need to do more to present our best tourist spots in a much better way. Otherwise, what will the groups of mainland visitors say about us?

Mary Pang, Kwai Chung