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Still a lot of hot air in HK

Still a lot of hot air in HK

Lai See   28/8/2012

Interesting to see that Singapore has raised the bar on air quality. Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said last week that the country had adopted World Health Organisation guidelines as a target that it aimed to hit by this year, The Straits Times reported. He said Singapore would be looking at not just annual figures but also 24-hour targets for some pollutants.

This puts Singapore light years ahead of Hong Kong, which still uses air quality objectives that were established in 1987 and are now hopelessly outdated. The Environment Bureau nevertheless continues with its daily farce of producing an air pollution index based on these AQOs, which are way higher than what WHO guidelines consider safe for human health.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen vowed to introduce new AQOs by the end of last year. Unsurprisingly this didn’t happen. But the government was jolted into action in January when mainland China announced tighter AQOs than Hong Kong’s. Hong Kong then announced there would be new AQOs but not before 2014. They don’t amount to much of an improvement.

“Fumes from motor vehicles and industries affect every single Singaporean,” Balakrishnan said in response to a question about whether the cleaner air policy would lead to higher car prices. “I think this is a price worth paying.”

We know politicians like to make the right sounds but Hong Kong has not even reached this point. Let’s hope that changes soon under the new government.

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