Hong Kong dirty air ‘100% fixable’ – think tank

Easily implemented air quality initiatives could rid Hong Kong of its notorious smog problem within two years, according to a think tank in the city.

The Civic Exchange is putting pressure on Hong Kong’s chief executive, Donald Tsang, to end a decade of pollution and the organisation has drawn up a plan outlining exactly how it thinks the administration can achieve major progress within a 24 month time frame and completely solve the problem in five years.

The think tank has looked at good practice in comparable cities and also considered Hong Kong’s unique issues and designed a four-stage plan which boils down to setting up a low emissions zone and using Government policy to improve energy efficiency.

It also calls for the appointment of an Energy Minister to oversee the process and suggests the city joins international initiatives which aim to reduce carbon emissions – though not carbon trading schemes – and uses Hong Kong’s financial muscle to make it a world leader in the renewable energy sector and finally to address the city’s energy mix and take steps to encourage clean fuels, both for power generation and transport.

The full plan can be found in the publications section of Civic Exchange’s website.

Christine Loh, CEO of Civic Exchange said: “we present a workable, effective Air Management Plan, which we strongly encourage Donald Tsang to adopt.

“We have studied the problem and developed solutions. We urge the Chief Executive now to show leadership, make decisions, and effect change.

“Mr Tsang is in a unique position to make changes that will benefit Hong Kong for years to come. Right now, people are getting sick and business confidence is eroding due to this fixable dirty air crisis.

“If the Chief Executive and Government act swiftly, they have the opportunity to end a decade of pollution, dangerous air and filthy skies, leaving a legacy of healthier, cleaner air that we can all breathe.

“Reducing pollution must become a central part of the government’s policies, within an overall sustainable development context.

“We are requesting the Chief Executive to make the following statement his own personal commitment to the people of Hong Kong on the pollution crisis.”

Whether the Chief Executive takes note remains to be seen as, despite the think tank’s claims to the contrary, the implementation of its air management plan would be far from straightforward, requiring reams of new legislation as well as extensive financing and enforcement.

Sam Bond

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