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Study: Environmental Protection Not Up To Par In HK

China Daily HK Edition – November 21, 2008

Hong Kong people have seen an overall improvement in the city’s sustainable development, but are mostly dissatisfied with its efforts in environmental protection, a study has found.

The environment, afterall, is generally considered one of the most important aspects – right up there with education.

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong (CCC) have conducted their sustainable-development study for the fifth year. A total of 2,013 Cantonese-speaking people older than 18 were interviewed between December and January.

The CCC identifies 10 key economic, environmental and social areas as important for the territory’s continual development.

Based on the level of importance and that of satisfaction with performance in each area rated by the respondents, the Hong Kong Sustainable Development Index (HKSDI) is calculated.

The index in 2007 bounced to a new high of 103.6, up from 102.6 in 2006, with baseline of 100 in 2003.

“The gaps between importance and satisfaction in nine of the 10 priorities decreased in 2007, resulting in an overall increase in HKSDI,” said Graeme Lang, convener of CCC’s SDI sub-committee.

This revealed that the community saw an overall improvement in most issues to bring Hong Kong toward sustainable development last year, he added.

While the education system had been the most important item in recent years, environmental protection was tied for first this year with both issues scoring 8.3 out of 10.

Lang explained that the media has been covering more on climate change and global warming over these years, which raises public awareness of environmental conservation.

However, interviewees viewed the progress on environmental protection the worst among all 10 agendas, giving it a barely passing grade of 5.5 out of 10.

Among all environmental issues, 52 percent of the respondents ranked clean air as the top concern, down from 65 percent last year.

“People are losing hope in tackling air pollution,” said Andy Cornish, director of conservation for World Wide Fund For Nature Hong Kong. “The government is also lagging behind public expectations.”

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