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November, 2011:

Plans to change political party funding to be published

Sir Christopher Kelly

Sir Christopher Kelly’s report on funding politics depends on all-party agreement for success

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New proposals on controlling the funding of political parties are being published, after the government pledged to remove “big money from politics”.

It has been reported they could include a £10,000 cap on individual donations.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life proposals could also include giving state funding to parties worth £3 for every vote they receive.

But Deputy PM Nick Clegg has already stressed taxpayers will not be asked to pay more to fund political parties.

The report is the latest in a long line of attempts to curb party funding, which grew in urgency in the wake of the cash-for-honours affair.

The committee’s chairman, Sir Christopher Kelly, has said he hopes his body’s independence from any political party will make the report’s findings more acceptable to voters.

But any finding depends on agreement from all the main political parties – something which has always proved impossible to achieve in the past.

Labour, with its heavy dependence on the trade unions for funding, resists curbs on unions donating on behalf of individual members.

The Conservatives, who rely more on large individual donors, are against further restrictions on what they can give.

At present there are no limits on donations, but the name of anyone who gives more than £7,500 to a party is made public.

‘Hard-pressed taxpayers’

The deputy prime minister’s comments in the House of Commons earlier this month may limit the chances of success this time if – as some reports suggest – Sir Christopher proposes a huge increase in state funding of political parties, worth up to £100m over a five-year Parliament.

Under this proposal, cash would be shared out according to the number of votes each party receives in a general election to compensate them for a huge loss of income as a result of introducing new caps on individual donations.

But Mr Clegg said it was “immensely important for us to clear this up, because it has affected all political parties negatively, but it would not be right to ask our hard-pressed taxpayers to pay more to political parties at a time when they are having to deal with so many cuts and savings elsewhere”.

The last major attempt to reform party funding began in 2006, at the time of the cash-for-honours affairs.

Former Permanent Secretary Sir Hayden Phillips was asked to find as much of a consensus as possible on a future system for funding.

He recommended a £50,000 limit on cash donations to parties, but after five sessions of talks with Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, the process broke down without agreement.

The Cabinet Office – which would introduce any change – has set a deadline of December 2014 for legislation.

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Hong Kong Advised On Light Pollution

22 Nov. 2011

Carl Gardner, Director of CSG Lighting Consultancy Ltd’, was recently invited by the city authorities in Hong Kong to advise them on ways that the city and its local businesses can reduce the problems of light nuisance and light pollution.

During visits in December 2010 and October 2011, Carl Gardner gave presentations to senior figures in the city’s engineering and environmental departments on UK planning laws and light nuisance legislation – as well as suggesting technical and design solutions the city could consider. He was also taken on a night-time tour of the worst ‘unwanted light’ hotspots on Hong Kong island and across the harbour in Kowloon, to gauge the extent of the problems first hand.

Hong Kong has some of the densest living conditions in the world – high-rise residential blocks are packed tightly together, to maximise land use, and upwards light spill from lighting at ground level is a constant problem. The main culprits in creating unwanted light are uncontrolled floodlights on commercial hoardings above shop frontages – and the new generation of dynamic LED and LCD advertising screens, which are taking over the facades and rooflines of Hong Kong’s buildings. The number of complaints about light nuisance has increased enormously in recent years, particularly from wealthy residents from Mainland China who have bought property in Hong Kong

Fresh round of hacked climate science emails leaked online

the Guardian

A file containing 5,000 emails has been made available in an apparent attempt to repeat the impact of 2009’s similar release

Description: Hacked climate science emails : December temperatures

A new round of hacked emails between climate scientists has been released online. Photograph: NOAA

A fresh tranche of private emails exchanged between leading climate scientists throughout the last decade was released online on Tuesday. The unauthorised publication is an apparent attempt to repeat the impact of a similar release of emails on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009.

The initial email dump was apparently timed to disrupt the Copenhagen climate talks. It prompted three official inquiries in the UK and two in the US into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists’ handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced.

Norfolk police have said the new set of emails is “of interest” to their investigation to find the perpetrator of the initial email release who has not yet been identified.

The emails appear to be genuine, but the University of East Anglia said the “sheer volume of material” meant it was not yet able to confirm that they were. One of the emailers, the climate scientist Prof Michael Mann, has confirmed that he believes they are his messages. The lack of any emails post-dating the 2009 release suggests that they were obtained at the same time, but held back. Their release now suggests they are intended to cause maximum impact before the upcoming climate summit in Durban which starts on Monday.

In the new release a 173MB zip file called “FOIA2011” containing more than 5,000 new emails, was made available to download on a Russian server called today. An anonymous entity calling themselves “FOIA” then posted a link to the file on at least four blogs popular with climate sceptics – Watts Up With ThatClimate AuditTallBloke andThe Air Vent. The same tactic was used in 2009 when the first 160MB batch of emails were released after being obtained – possibly illegally – from servers based at the University of East Anglia, where a number of the climate scientists involved were based.

One marked difference from the original 2009 release is that the person or persons responsible has included a message headed “background and context” which, for the first time, gives an insight into their motivations. Following some bullet-pointed quotes such as “Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day” and, “Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels,” the message states:

“Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline. This archive contains some 5.000 emails picked from keyword searches. A few remarks and redactions are marked with triple brackets. The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons. We are not planning to publicly release the passphrase. We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics.”

The use of points instead of commas to mark the thousands when writing a number – highly unusual in both the UK or US – is sure to lead to speculation about the nationality of those responsible.

The message then includes a sample of cherry-picked quotes selected from a small handful of the emails focusing on apparent disagreements between the scientists, the workings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and attempts to block climate sceptics from securing documents from the scientists via freedom of information requests. Many of the same issues were highlighted in the 2009 release.

One of the most damaging claims in 2009 was that Prof Phil Jones, the head of the UEA’s Climatic Research Institute had deleted emails to avoid FOI request. One of the reviews into the content of the emails, conducted by Sir Muir Russell, concluded that “emails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them” – something that Jones has denied. At the time CRU was coming under sustained pressure by an organised campaign to release information, which the scientists saw as distracting from their work.

The new emails include similar statements apparently made by the scientists about avoiding requests for information. In one email, which has not yet been specifically confirmed as genuine, Jones writes: “I’ve been told that IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 [the IPCC’s fifth Assessment Report] would be to delete all emails at the end of the process”.

In a statement, the University of East Anglia said: “While we have had only a limited opportunity to look at this latest post of 5,000 emails, we have no evidence of a recent breach of our systems. If genuine, (the sheer volume of material makes it impossible to confirm at present that they are all genuine) these emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks.”

It continued: “As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context. Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the university and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so.”

Mann, director of the Earth System Science Centre at Penn State University, who is quoted in the batch of released emails described the release as “truly pathetic”.

When asked if they were genuine, he said: “Well, they look like mine but I hardly see anything that appears damning at all, despite them having been taken out of context. I guess they had very little left to work with, having culled in the first round the emails that could most easily be taken out of context to try to make me look bad.”

He said, the people behind the release were “agents doing the dirty bidding of the fossil fuel industry know they can’t contest the fundamental science of human-caused climate change. So they have instead turned to smear, innuendo, criminal hacking of websites, and leaking out-of-context snippets of personal emails in their effort to try to confuse the public about the science and thereby forestall any action to combat this critical threat. Its right out of the tried-and-true playbook of climate change denial.”

An ongoing investigation by Norfolk Police into the 2009 release of emails has so far failed to result in any charges or arrests. A spokesperson said: “We are aware of the release of the document cache. The contents will be of interest to our investigation which is ongoing.”

HK Oct air cargo falls 8.2 pct, seventh-straight drop

Clear the Air says: So do we need a third runway in Hong Kong to handle the dwindling PRD business while China meantime is building more runways at Shenzhen, Chongqing  and Guangzhou airports and Beijing is building a new South Beijing airport equipped with 9 runways set to open 2017 ? Then of course there is the small problem of increased PRD landing rights which remain, in the air, since they are controlled by Hong Kong’s competitors in China through the Chinese military. Never mind that Tung Chung already exceeds world air pollution standards before the bridge even starts on this side of the pond.

HK Oct air cargo falls 8.2 pct, seventh-straight drop

HONG KONG | Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:52am EST

HONG KONG Nov 20 (Reuters) – Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), the world’s busiest air cargo hub, posted on Sunday a seventh-straight monthly decrease in air cargo volume in October, tracking a global trend with trade declining in the United States and Europe.

Air cargo volume totalled 342,000 tonnes, dipping 8.2 percent in October year on year, but the airport handled 4.6 million passenger trips, or a 5.9 percent increase, and recorded 5 percent more aircraft movements.

“While HKIA’s cargo performance is consistent with the worldwide negative growth trend, I’m pleased to see passenger volume and aircraft movements continue to rise,” Stanley Hui, HKIA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

In the first 10 months of 2011, the Hong Kong airport moved 3.3 million tonnes, down 4.4 percent over the same period last year. On a rolling 12-month basis, cargo volume totalled 4 million tonnes, a decrease of 2.3 percent.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, the world’s largest cargo carrier, last week posted October cargo volumes that dipped 17.5 percent on the year due to continued weak demand in Hong Kong and China.

As Hong Kong’s dominant airline, its cargo flow is a good indicator of export growth in Hong Kong and China, which posted on Nov. 16 its most sluggish expansion in eight months.

But Cathay Pacific expects its cargo volume will return to growth in 2012 as it adds new services. Capacity is seen growing 15 to 18 percent next year, its cargo director said on Thursday. (Reporting by Clement Tan; Editing by Paul Tait)

Cathay faces struggle to fill larger cargo holds

South China Morning Post – 18 Nov. 2011

Delivery of 10 freighters, which can carry 16 per cent more, will be delayed and carrier will find it hard to meet bigger volumes amid sluggish demand

Cathay Pacific Airways (SEHK: 0293) is struggling to fill up its cargo space even as its freight capacity is set to increase by 15 to 20 per cent next year.

With the delay in delivery until next year of most of the 10 747-8 freighters it ordered, Cathay will be in the unenviable position of having to fill up even bigger cargo holds – the jumbo 747-8 can hold 16 per cent more than its predecessor B747-400F – even as cargo volume is dwindling amid sluggish demand in Europe and the US. All the new freighters will operate between Hong Kong and North America from next month.

“The worst-case scenario is that we’ll have to park the aircraft, just as we did during the downturn in 2008 and 2009,” Nick Rhodes, cargo director for Cathay, said on the sidelines of the topping out ceremony of its HK$5.5 billion cargo terminal at Chek Lap Kok yesterday.

To help ease the overcapacity, a B747-400F will leave Cathay shortly as part of the four carriers transferred to its cargo joint venture with Air China (SEHK: 0753announcementsnews) earlier this year. Three more freighters will be leased to Air Hong Kong, a joint venture in which Cathay owns a 60 per cent stake.

Still, Cathay’s cargo capacity is expected to rise by up to 20 per cent. Its cargo volume, meanwhile, contracted more than 17.5 per cent year on year last month and load factor – percentage of cargo space occupied – dropped to 66 per cent.

Cathay’s load factor and the cargo division’s profitability would drop next year as a result of weak economic growth in Europe and North America, Rhodes said. “[But] it’s not all bad, imports into Asia, especially for China, is quite strong,” he said.

Cathay is planning new routes to the mainland and India as well as new markets in eastern Europe, and Central and South America to use the additional capacity. It opened a new service to Zaragoza in Spain this month after the rapid growth of retail chain Zara in Asia. It also wants to add more services to Sri Lanka, the garment manufacturing centre for many US fashion brands such as Victoria’s Secret. Intra-Asia trade is seen as a ray of hope amid the uncertainty in the cargo market, given the volume of IT-related cargo flows within the region.

Cathay is also seeking new services into Australia and Mexico via Los Angeles, pending traffic rights talks. It is increasing the five flights a week on its Miami route to seven because of the growth in traffic between Asia and Central and South America.

In the longer term, the International Air Transport Association forecasts global air cargo demand to rise 6 per cent a year in the next decade. Cathay’s capacity in the next three years is to grow 5 per cent to 6 per cent, in line with global forecasts for demand.

The new cargo terminal at Chek Lap Kok, with annual throughput capacity of 2.6 million tonnes, will hire up to 1,800 staff next year. About 1.8 million tonnes of cargo that Cathay, Dragonair and Air Hong Kong carry a year will be moved to the new terminal in phases from Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals.

Pollution sensors offer some hope

South China Morning Post – Nov. 18, 2011

Officials tend to drag their feet when it comes to measures intended to force people to change their behaviour to help ease pollution. There have been plenty of carrots offered, but few sticks wielded. Now, there is some good news. Starting from 2013, vehicles will be checked while on the road and those found to be exceeding permitted levels will face penalties. Technologically advanced remote sensing devices are to be installed at the roadside to check if vehicles using fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas and petrol are spewing excessive nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Those who are caught and fail to rectify the problem may be deregistered. This step, which will hopefully curb roadside pollution, is long overdue.

The detection scheme was first mooted in 2004. Following a two-year trial, the Environmental Protection Department was, on at least two occasions, on the verge of launching a public consultation. But it was withheld for reasons which are not clear. This time, officials seem to be determined to go ahead, subject to the outcome of a two-month consultation. The measure will come into force in 2013 at the earliest.

The government estimates 45 per cent of public light buses are releasing excessive pollutants. The ratio for taxis running on LPG is even higher, with four in five having such problems. This should not be tolerated. There is a need for an effective deterrent.

However, officials have not shown sufficient determination to bring in such measures when negotiating with the transport industry. The many exemptions included in the ordinance banning idling engines are a good example. The law has been watered down so much that it makes enforcement, due later this year, almost meaningless.

Drivers may well be opposed to the new measure. Some may even seek a legal challenge to the use of the remote sensing technology. The accuracy of using laser guns in detecting speeding vehicles has already been the subject of a dispute in the courts. Under the plan, two sets of equipment will be installed 15 metres apart at each site. Only two readings above permitted limits will trigger enforcement action. But instead of a fixed penalty, vehicles will undergo detailed tests at a designated centre. Only when the problem is not fixed within 12 days will the owner’s registration be revoked. The approach is a measured one and may not be sufficient to deter polluting motorists.

A stick is needed, but carrots can also help. The HK$150 million fund announced in the policy address to help replace catalytic converters in taxis and minibuses will complement the scheme. The two programmes can help identify polluting vehicles while encouraging transport operators to properly maintain their fleet. With better promotion and resolute enforcement there will, hopefully, be cleaner air.

HK minimum wage law brought more benefits than problems — so far

Clear the Air says:

Maybe, someone should ask Tommy Cheung ($20 Cheung) when we can expect his predicted  demise to hit the catering industry ? – and why do they continue to elect him to oppose their best interests since his decisions always oppose their interests ?

The same way Cheung predicted doom and gloom for the catering industry when the anti smoking laws in the workplace were finally passed that he had opposed for 6 years ?  Since then the restaurant and catering industry has never been better – FACT. Check the Census and Statistics Department figures.

It’s time the  riff raff were voted out from Legco and replaced with people who are actually interested in serving the best interests of the people of Hong Kong rather than the political party funders from big business that pull their puppet strings in return for the undisclosed and hidden secret funding.

HK minimum wage law brought more benefits than problems — so far

By Elmer W. Cagape Nov 19, 2011 12:13PM UTC

  • ·

Contrary to what some business owners fear, the introduction of minimum wage law in Hong Kong didn’t seem to hit hard the industries mostly affected by the standardization of wage floor. Minimum hourly wage was set at HK$28 since May and employers have expressed fears it could bring more unemployment and business closures.

Instead, lowest paid workers have the wage law to thank for. That’s because since the new hourly rate was implemented in May, those who belong in the bottom end of the payscale enjoyed increases in their monthly paychecks. This is not really surprising if they used to get paid much lower before.

The findings come from a survey conducted by the People’s Alliance for Minimum Wage, which asked 519 workers in September about their wages. The survey found out that workers in the catering industry benefited the most. Caterings and Hotels Industries Employees Union president Lee Wan-lung said that a dish washer in Hong Kong can earn up to HK$8,500 a month. Before the minimum wage low, its salary is not expected to go beyond HK$5,000.

However, it seems that wage hike is not enough. The survey also found out that some workers in the said industry preferred to move into other jobs that were perceived easier to carry out such as cleaners or security personnel. Being in the catering industry requires working at unusual hours; one to start early in the morning or leave work past midnight. Restaurants in the city needed 200,000 workers to function and with some employees leaving the industry, bringing in qualified workers often required higher salary offers.

While the increase benefited mostly those who were the lowest paid, workers who belong to the middle payscale barely had any positive salary adjustment. That said, claims by employers of a widespread unemployment should minimum wage be implemented is largely unfounded; Hong Kong’s jobless rate currently stands at 3.2 per cent, a 13-year low.

Somehow, the introduction of minimum wage law boosts the buying power of those who earn a little now that the city is facing inflation rates at unprecedented levels. For instance, cleaners’ salary rose by 23.7 per cent and security guards had pay rise of 7.8 per cent to meet the mandatory wage standard.

Although rising wages becomes an increasing concern, employers still think higher prices of ingredients and soaring rents are still the primary concerns.

Whether It Is Warming or Climate Change, It Cannot Be the CO2

Recently a Japanese Research Institute published a satellite map of sources of CO2 emissions. It was virtually ignored by the mainstream media, but that has become an inverse measure of its significance to the climate debate. It showed a pattern that most would not expect because of the misleading information presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) amplified by most media. Producers of the research illustrate the problem.

“The head of the research institute, Yasuhiro Sasano, says he hopes the map will help display how much each region needs to reduce its CO2 emissions in the future.”

This is only a politically correct comment because the map illustrates the exact opposite, CO2 emission reduction is not required where the IPCC recommend. John O’Sullivan correctly drew attention to this dilemma, however, the results are logical if known science is applied.

NHK World
Figure 1: Red is for high CO2 emission: Green (absorbers) no emissions: White is low or neutral emissions.

The information in the article is not surprising if you know anything about CO2 and don’t buy the ‘official’ nonsense. The oceans are the main control of atmospheric CO2 as one of the atmospheric gases in constant flux between the water and the atmosphere. The ocean’s ability to absorb CO2 is a function of its temperature – cold water absorbs more CO2 than warm water. The boundary between the warm polar water and warm tropical water is very clearly defined in most parts of the world and the map generally reflects this pattern. The map is only surprising if you believe that humans are the primary source of CO2.

I was criticized for participating in the book Slaying the Sky Dragon but did so because they were tackling a question that few, including most of the skeptics, ignore; the actual role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. As a climatologist I know all the variables must fit together and interact with each other. The evidence for CO2 as a greenhouse gas simply doesn’t fit. The Slayers had serious problems with the physics and it was essential to put that information into the debate. The map makes it time to revisit why, besides the physics, CO2 doesn’t fit.

There are several misconceptions about CO2, most created because proponents tried to prove the hypothesis rather than the normal scientific practice of disproof. It helped them if the misinformation created unfounded fears. An early IPCC claim said atmospheric residency time of CO2 was at least 100 years. Done, ostensibly, for the political point that even if we stopped production immediately the damage was done. We now know the actual time is at most 5 to 6 years.

The major assumption of the hypothesis says a CO2 increase causes a temperature increase. After publication in 1999 of Petit et al., Antarctic ice core records were presented as evidence. Just four years later proof that the major assumption of the hypothesis was wrong appeared. Somehow it was shuffled aside, probably because of the diversionary claim that the lag was between 80 and 800 years. It doesn’t matter, it still contradicts the basic assumption. Temperature change before CO2 change is the case in every record for any period or duration is studiously ignored by proponent and skeptic. A shorter record showing the relationship is shown in Figure 2.

Lag Time for Short Record 1958 to 2009
Figure 2 Lag Time for Short Record 1958 to 2009

It is logical to assume that if CO2 change follows temperature change in every record then CO2 cannot be a greenhouse gas.

Another misrepresentation is the claim that CO2 is evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere and levels don’t vary much over time. The measuring techniques developed by Keeling for the Mauna Loa site were patented and is the standard measuring technique for the world. It is a questionable technique including the ‘adjustments’ made to the readings. Ernst Georg Beck demonstrated the problems (Figure 3) and the lengths taken to blend the ice core record to the 19th. Century data to the Mauna Loa record. He also shows a lag of five years eliminated by the 70 year smoothing applied to the ice core data that eliminates or masks most diagnostic information.

Diagram and Caption by Ernst Beck
Figure 3 Diagram and Caption by Ernst Beck

Beck’s work confirms the findings that compares ice core CO2 levels with stomata measures. Figure 4 shows 2000 years of record from 6500 to 8500 years BP. Similarities of stomata readings with Beck’s record include higher atmospheric levels and much greater variability.

The map and the accompanying article create a distortion in its speculation about the amount of human produced CO2 as a fraction of natural production. According to the IPCC, who produce the original numbers, humans produce approximately 9 gigatons of CO2 per year. This is within the error factor for the amount of CO2 from at least two natural sources. Estimates of CO2 from natural sources are very crude as evidenced by the large error factors. Reports with headlines like, “Forests soak up more CO2 than thought” and “Old-growth forests absorb CO2 too: study” keep appearing. In 2010 humans produced 9 gigatons, but ocean output was between 90 and 100 gigatons and ground bacteria and rotting vegetation was between 50 and 60 gigatons according to Dr Dietrich Koelle. Spread the human annual production across the planet and it doesn’t even show on the world map. The pattern confirms this because it reflects natural sources.

With Original Caption and Source
Figure 4 With Original Caption and Source

Few, including skeptics, want to confront the problem that temperature increase precedes CO2 increase in absolute contradiction to the major assumption of the AGW hypothesis. It is increasingly obvious that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas and the only group challenging that scientifically are the Slayers, which is why I joined them. Science must be about skepticism, otherwise the science is settled, but then it isn’t science.

November 19, 2011

Dr. Tim Ball [send him mail] is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball employs his extensive background in climatology and other fields as an advisor to the International Climate Science CoalitionFriends of Science, and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Copyright © 2011 Tim Ball

Access to full smog data still out of sight

South China Morning Post – 17 Nov. 2011

Environment minister says monitoring standards are being revised and won’t be improved overnight

The heated debate over public access to key smog-monitoring data has taken another turn, with the mainland’s top environment official putting a damper on hopes that more complete standards are imminent.

The remarks by Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian at an international seminar on Tuesday are the clearest sign to date explaining why the central government is dragging its heels on a commitment it has made repeatedly since the 2008 Olympics to improve transparency and outdated pollution standards.

Analysts say Zhou’s disappointing remarks also underscore the wide expectation gap between mainland authorities and a public that is increasingly worried about air quality.

“We are still studying and revising [pollution monitoring] standards concerning air quality, in a bid to bring them in line with international standards,” the China Business News quoted Zhou as saying. “But it will have to be a step-by-step process and cannot be accomplished overnight.”

The minister admitted that the conspicuous absence of smog-related fine particles, known as PM2.5 (airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter), in the outdated pollution standards was largely to blame for discrepancies between public unease and official statistics.

The ministry yesterday announced revised draft rules for public consultation that add PM2.5 to measure air quality nationwide, among other revisions. An official from its standards department said the new rules would be implemented in 2016, but may be adopted sooner in some regions, according to a statement on the ministry website. It would also urge local governments to voluntarily bring in the new rules earlier.

Major mainland cities have frequently been hit by thick, choking smog in recent months, prompting public anger at the government’s inability to curb pollution and widespread scepticism over official pollution data which shows positive air-quality figures even on smoggy days.

In the capital, which was shrouded in a thick blanket of smog yet again yesterday – with a popular pollution reading from the US embassy describing air quality as “dangerous” to the entire population – the local environmental watchdog said air quality was only “slightly polluted” by national standards. Both Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang also made rare admissions at the same seminar that the mainland’s decade-old air pollution standards need an urgent overhaul to meet public expectations.

PM2.5 is believed to pose greater health risks than bigger particles from dust and soot and can cause serious respiratory problems and even lung cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.

Peking University expert Zhang Yuanhang said that the inclusion of PM2.5 would mean a drop of up to 80 per cent in the number of “blue-sky” days recorded for many mainland cities, which would fuel public dissatisfaction, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

It is no secret that many mainland cities are technically capable of monitoring PM2.5 and have been doing so for years, but the public is yet to get access to such data.

Additional reporting by Staff Reporter

Honda Clarity

Clear the Air says: this is the future of emissions’ free motoring – and it exists NOW !

someone please tell Hong Kong Government which is chasing old tech rechargeable battery electric vehicles that need fossil fuel energy generation to recharge them !