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Breath of fresh air sought in tackling delta pollution

Staff Reporter

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau are going to work together to try to improve air quality in the Greater Pearl River Delta region.

The three governments said in a joint statement yesterday that they have agreed on a plan to reduce polluting emissions in the region by 2020.

That includes pushing vessels calling at ports in the delta to use cleaner fuel.

But doubts remain about action, with one group questioning progress to date.

It was in October 2009 that the governments set about compiling the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta (2008-2020). That was followed last September by three-month public consultations on their initial proposals.

The plan covers long-term co- operation in five major areas: environment and ecology, low-carbon development, culture and social activities, spatial planning and green transportation systems.

It also recommends strengthening regional cooperation on emission- reduction controls.

The grand plan goes on to suggest the joint promotion of low-carbon development by cooperating on a regional basis to combat climate change.

Kitty Poon Kit, undersecretary for the environment, pointed out yesterday this is the first plan compiled jointly by Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau, that aims to enhance the delta region’s competitiveness and attractiveness.

“The first regional plan jointly puts forward the vision of transforming the Greater PRD region into a low-carbon, high-technology and low-pollution city cluster of quality living,” she said.

Clean Air Network campaign officer Jenny Wong said the 10th meeting of the Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection in 2009 saw a study of 2011-2022 emission reduction targets being introduced.

Targets were expected to be set by 2010, she said, yet that remains to be done. And there was no mention of the targets in the plan released yesterday.

Wong also said the Progress Report of Measures under the PRD Regional Air Quality Management Plan – released in January – stated that Hong Kong has already met the 2010 emission reduction targets.

But Hong Kong’s air quality was far from achieving a standard that protected public health, she said.

“In other words, should the 2011-2020 emission reduction targets be based on the lax 2010 emission levels, the targets will have little efficacy in improving Hong Kong’s current air quality situation.”

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