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Eco-Friendly Budget Will Be Good For Hong Kong

Eco-Friendly Budget Will Be Good For HK

Updated on Feb 27, 2008 – SCMP

Given the size of the government’s surplus – estimated by some experts to be as high as HK$120 billion – many people have been asking that the financial secretary hands out rebates of various kinds in today’s budget.

However, I would like to see some of the surplus being spent on programmes that will help to improve the quality of our living environment, where air pollution is still the top priority. Friends of the Earth has drafted a “green” wish list for the budget:

* Change street lights to high-energy-efficient LED light bulbs. These have a lifespan of at least 10 years, yet use less than one third of the electricity consumed by conventional bulbs, which have a much shorter lifespan. This will reduce energy wastage and reduce power plant emissions;

* Add “green” rooftops to all government buildings whenever practical. This will help to absorb the ambient heat of the city and lower the “heat island” effect;

* Plant more trees around government buildings and on our streets. Trees absorb roadside pollutants;

* Regulate the tunnel tolls for the three cross-harbour tunnels. Traffic congestion, especially at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, creates more pollution and wastes precious time. With less congestion and a shorter waiting period, workers can be more productive;

* Offer subsidies to operators of pre-Euro and Euro-1 heavy-diesel vehicles. Existing government subsidies should be reviewed and possibly increased to quicken the pace of phasing out those highly polluting vehicles. The government must uphold the polluter pays principle and make owners of those vehicles bear a large part of the cost of getting the latest Euro-standard diesel vehicles for their businesses;

* Improve the city’s recycling bin facilities. More accessible and user-friendly recycling bins could be placed around the whole territory, both in public venues and in every appropriate building to induce more frequent use; and

* The government could provide job opportunities for unemployed locals by using organic fertiliser made from our food waste to enrich the topsoil of the many barren landscapes along highways and country parks in the New Territories so shrubs or trees could be grown and help absorb pollutants and greenhouse gases and improve air quality.

The government should not waste time on lengthy consultations. It should put in place the right policies for the environment without delay.

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director, Friends of the Earth (HK)

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