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May, 2009:

Client Saw Red As Cabbie Tried To Be Green – Taxi Sector To Fight Idling-engine Ban After Driver Fined For Row

Joyce Man, SCMP – May 30, 2009

Taxi drivers have vowed to oppose proposed legislation banning them from idling their engines while parked – which causes pollution but keeps the air conditioner running – after a driver was fined for getting angry with a passenger who left his car because it was too hot.

Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group chairman Lai Ming-hung said the taxi sector unanimously disapproved of the measure and this incident had increased their opposition. “The proposal hasn’t even come into law yet, and it has already caused problems,” he said.

Chan Man-kin, 29, plans to appeal after being fined HK$1,200 by Deputy Special Magistrate Liza Li Lai-shan in Tsuen Wan Court for behaving other than in a civil and orderly manner.

The court heard that early on November 4 last year Chan had parked his taxi on Nathan Road near Shan Tung Road in Mong Kok and switched off his engine, meaning the air conditioning was also off.

At about 1am firefighter Cheung Wing-hei got into the cab and asked to be driven to Wong Tai Sin, but then got out complaining the car was too stuffy.

Angry, Chan shouted at Mr Cheung, telling him not to play around, but Mr Cheung ignored him. Chan continued shouting and Mr Cheung turned around and said he was going to file a complaint.

It was not clear whether Chan had already started his meter, the court heard.

But Mr Lai said it had been turned on and likened the passenger’s action to going to a restaurant, drinking tea and leaving without paying.

“This law would be very inappropriate for our industry,” Mr Lai said, referring to the proposed legislation. “That person wouldn’t take the car because of the heat. It has happened already.”

But lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said that in this case it might have been the lack of legislation that caused the confusion.

“If there was legislation, it would have been clearer. Because there was no legislation, this guy asked why he switched off his engine,” he said.

“You need to make sacrifices to be environmental,” added Mr Cheng, who is deputy chairman of the Legislative Council’s panel on transport and a member of the subcommittee on improving air quality.

Mr Lai wrote to the Department of Justice and police yesterday asking why charges had been laid against Chan when both he and Mr Cheung had been involved in the argument.

Police had told Chan to pursue the payment in the Small Claims Tribunal, but that would be a waste of time, Mr Lai said in the letter. A date has not yet been set for the Legislative Council to discuss the proposal.

World Environment Day 2009


Easily Green Your Daily Routine

This year’s theme for World Environment Day (WED) is Your Planet Needs You! UNite to Combat Climate Change. But too often we are presented with environmental problems without being given the tools to act. WED is about taking action to be a part of the solution. And the Daily do something Tips are a great start.

We can all do our part to protect the planet by using less and acting more. Going green is not as difficult as you might think. Here we walk you through 30 easy ways to green your daily routine, from the moment you hit snooze on your solar-powered alarm clock to the point when you crawl into your eco-washed, organic cotton sheets.

Make your WED commitment today. But don’t stop at today and don’t stop here. Try to incorporate all of these into your life as a matter of routine. Get others to do so the same. And get involved!


  • Plant a tree! Help achieve UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign target of planting seven billion trees – one for every person on the planet – by the end of this year! Three billion are planted. Five billion are pledged. On every continent in the world trees can be planted in June, so start your efforts on WED.
  • Find needy homes or charitable organizations for things that you no longer need or want rather than throwing it away.



  • It would seem to go without saying, but many of us forget that we can save water in simple ways like not letting the tap run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth.
  • Insulating your water heater will help save valuable energy, and you can go the extra mile by installing showerheads with a low flow in your bathrooms for bathing purposes to help save water. You can also put a timer on your heaters to save power.
  • Using an electric razor or hand razor with replaceable blades instead of disposable razors goes a long way to cutting back on waste. And plant a tree.
  • Use towels for drying your face and hands instead of tissues that are used and thrown away. Also, hang your towels to dry so that they can be reused several times. You are after all clean when you use them!
  • Juice or yoghurt lovers can do their bit by buying juice in concentrates and yoghurt in reusable containers instead of single serving packages.
  • Many of us like to leaf through the paper as we munch on breakfast, but consider reading the dailies in communal spaces like the office or coffee shops. However, if you prefer to have your own copy, make sure you recycle!
  • When packing your lunch, opt for reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping the food with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  • As you leave the house, don’t forget to switch off all the lights and appliances at the wall unit (if you have this feature) and unplug chargers as they continue to consume even if they are not charging; saving energy helps reduce air pollution.


  • Don’t go anywhere without your cloth bag so you can just say no to plastic whenever you shop.
  • Radical as it may seem, in today’s “the easier the better” society, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by avoiding driving altogether. Power down and Instead try biking, walking, carpooling, public transport or an occasional telecommute.
  • If you have no other choice than to drive to work, look for the most fuel- efficient car model for your next purchase and keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure.
  • If you’re one of the lucky few blessed with clear stretches of road on your way to work, use cruise control, as it saves fuel and also helps you maintain a constant speed.
  • If you’re among the majority of drivers who spend their mornings stuck in traffic, consider turning your engine off if you will be idling for long periods of time. And plant a tree.
  • For those who suffer from road rage, remember that aggressive driving lowers your mileage, so if you want to save on fuel and save the planet while you’re at it, accelerate gradually– something to keep that in mind the next time that bad driver cuts you off! Just count to 10 and say the planet needs me!


  • Do you have a morning hot drink routine? Using a washable mug is an environmentally-friendly alternative to non-biodegradable styrofoam or plastic cups.
  • Leave a cup and reusable bottle for water at work to eliminate buying drinks, which get served in plastic cups, or bottled water. 80% of plastic bottles are recyclable but only 20% are actually recycled.
  • When you need a pad for lists and messages, turn over an old document and write on the back of that instead.
  • If there isn’t an office recycling system, start one yourself! Recycling our trash actually contributes to reducing global warming emissions. And it is estimated that 75% of what is thrown in the trash could actually be recycled, though currently only 25% is.
  • When you must have a paper copy, make sure you default your printer option to use both sides. This is an easy tree-saver!
  • Most computer accessories like ink cartridges and CDs and DVDs are made of materials that could be reused. Computer cords and speakers are fairly standardized, meaning they can be used for a variety of computer models and makes.
  • Lower your office’s carbon footprint by seeing computers, monitors, printers, copiers, speakers and other business equipment to their energy saving feature and turning them off at the end of the day. And plant a tree!
  • Turning off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms is an easy way to save energy.
  • If you’re in search of something to personalize your workspace, look no further than the humble houseplant. Houseplants are good for the environment because they remove quantities of pollutants present in the air.


  • In the summer/warmer months, consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air-conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home. While you’re at it, in winter, lower your thermostat and put on a jumper. In summer, increase it and wear lighter clothes, you will also save money!
  • Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat as it senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air-conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • When cooking dinner, match the size of the pan to the size of the heating element to lower energy wastage.
  • When you are feeling at your laziest, don’t throw clean clothes in the hamper to avoid hanging them up! Wear jeans more than once…
  • When you wash, use only eco-friendly products in your home. It’s best for you and the environment! And did we mention plant a tree!


Green Island Cries Foul Over Eco-report Clause

STAFF REPORTER of HK Standard – May 25, 2009

Green Island Cement (Holdings) has described as “irresponsible” and “illogical” the government’s move to slap a HK$20 million environment assessment report requirement before allowing it to bid for a sludge management project.

Green Island – a subsidiary of Cheung Kong Infrastructure – said it was given the requirement at a meeting with the Environmental Protection Department.

“It is impossible for Green Island Cement to spend HK$20 million to conduct an environmental assessment when it remains uncertain if it is eligible to bid for the project,” a company statement issued yesterday said.

The firm said it is baffled by the government policy of not considering the company’s eco co-combustion system, which cost only HK$3 billion – one-third of the government’s budget of HK$9 billion – to build the sludge treatment and integrated waste facilities at Tap Shek Kok, Tuen Mun.

Last Thursday, Legislative Council public works subcommittee chairman Raymond Ho Chung-tai slammed the government’s inability to accept the latest technology introduced by Green Island Cement.

In its letter to the department last August, the company said the proposed eco co-combustion system has substantial benefits in reducing coal use and recycling all bottom and fly ash to make cement.

Pollutant Control Tightened

EPD – 22 May 09

A new law has been gazetted to further control the emissions of volatile organic compounds – a major category of pollutants causing the smog that reduces Hong Kong’s visibility.

The Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) (Amendment) Regulation will extend the existing control on products containing such compounds to vehicle refinishing paints, vessel paints, pleasure-craft paints, adhesives and sealants.

It will ban the import and local manufacture of the newly-regulated products with such compound contents exceeding the prescribed limits.

The Environmental Protection Department said the compounds play a significant role in the formation of ozone and respirable suspended particulates. Hong Kong and Guangdong have a consensus to cut such compounds by 55% by 2010, on the basis of the emissions in 1997.

The department expects a further 700 tonnes of local volatile organic compound emissions will be cut when the extended control is fully implemented.

The law will be tabled at the Legislative Council on May 27 for negative vetting, after which it will be implemented in phases from January 1

No More Bottled Water!

Asthma Group Condemns Plan To Adopt Lax Pollution Targets

Joyce Ng, SCMP – May 04, 2009

The Hong Kong Asthma Society has joined other groups in criticising the government’s proposed adoption of the World Health Organisation’s minimum air-quality targets.

Society chairman Alfred Tam Yat-cheung said lax targets for reducing fine particles – known as PM2.5 and PM10 – were particularly unacceptable because they were the key pollutants affecting asthma patients.

In March, the government proposed adopting the WHO’s least stringent emission-control level for PM2.5, and the second-loosest target for PM10.

Dr Tam, a paediatrician, said Hong Kong would lag behind the EU and Australia, which had adopted far more stringent targets.

“The government, of course, has its political and economic considerations, but if public health is the first and foremost concern, I see no reason why it should not take the ultimate WHO target,” he said.

More fine particles in the air provide more surfaces for viruses to attach to, he said, increasing infection risks and breathing problems.

Ten per cent of children in the city suffered from asthma, up from 4 per cent 15 years ago, he added.

Dr Tam urged the government to install a review mechanism for targets, which he said should be used “constantly” as the environment changed. “Don’t leave it until 20 years later, like we have done,” he said.

Three hundred people have signed the society’s petition calling for tighter air-quality targets. The petition will be submitted to the government this week.

In June 2007, the government commissioned a study to review and update the city’s air-quality objectives – which had not changed since 1987 – with reference to WHO guidelines issued in 2006.

In revealing its findings in March, officials said compliance with the WHO guidelines could cut hospital admissions caused by air pollution and increase the average Hongkonger’s lifespan by about nine hours.

Nineteen first-phase measures, including increasing the use of natural gas, were identified as helping to meet the new objectives.

The draft report will be released next month.