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Donald Tsang – ‘HK air is not all that bad’

CLEAR THE AIR SAYS : It’s now 5 years later – do you think that Hong Kong’s dreadful polluted air is ‘not all that bad’ or is Donald living elsewhere (in Cloud Cuckoo Land) ?

An Interview with Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive  –     2006

Q. One thing that seems to of growing concern is bad air, the environment. Do you have plans to come to grips with this?

A. We have. In fact, the air is not all that bad. In fact, the air this year is better than it was last year, and last year was better than the year before. The air quality today is not inferior to Washington, DC, if I may say so. [Ed. note: By most measures, Hong Kong air is significantly more polluted than that of Los Angeles, which has the worst air quality of any major U.S. city.] But I’m really not complacent, and I know there is a lot of work to do. Not only in Hong Kong—in Hong Kong we have limitations on what we can do. We have now cleaned up our old vehicular fleet. We have two power stations to look at, and we have to make sure they are up to the mark.

But beyond that, it is all outside of Hong Kong. And on that we are working very hard with the mainland, particularly in Guandong Province. We have a joint plan—we are going to reduce all emissions by half by the year 2010. We are meeting that target. We are setting up monitoring centers in different parts of the Pearl River Delta—13 on the mainland and three, I think, in Hong Kong to monitor emission levels on a real time basis. And Guangdong has now put up a plan to turn Guangdong into a green province of China. They realize that a deteriorating air quality is an impediment to growth and economic prosperity. And I’m sure we can leverage that…and make sure we do even better than the goal we have already set. The goal we have set is not bad at all, but it doesn’t change things overnight.

Q. I understand that the [World Health Organization] is going to change its guidelines on air quality, and the gap will grow between the pollution levels of Hong Kong and what the WHO advises for health reasons.

A. Well, I’m sure we are going to meet whatever standards they put upBy Asian standards, we are not bad at all. We are better than Seoul, better than any of the mainland cities. I’m better than Taipei; I’m slightly behind Singapore, I’m behind Tokyo. I know about that and we work on that.

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