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Friends of the Earth (HK)’s response to 2013 Policy Address

 

(16 January 2013 Press release) Leung Chun-ying, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, delivered his maiden policy address today. Friends of the Earth (HK) opined that the only new measure that will improve air quality was a more aggressive approach to tackle the pollution that comes from the old diesel vehicles and ships. However, for other key environmental areas that we are concerned about, like waste management and energy, this policy address failed to look at the root causes of these problems.

 

Air Quality

Friends of the Earth (HK) welcomes the decision by the government to adopt a carrot and stick approach with the setting aside of $10 billion as subsidies and by setting deadlines in order to deal with the main source of roadside pollution – polluting diesel vehicles. We think that the deadline for the phasing out of pre-euro and Euro I vehicles, which is set for 2016, is too late. Currently there are 27,000 of these vehicles emitting highly carcinogenic suspended particles that continue to pollute our environment everyday.

 

By 2016 the oldest Pre-Euro vehicles will be 26 years old, and the suspended particles they emit are 34 times worse than that of the Euro V’s, so they pose a great threat to the public’s health. As a result, FoE (HK) urges that the government take into account the livelihood of the diesel vehicle industry operators when determining subsidy levels plus set more aggressive deadlines to phase out the old diesel vehicles. They should also implement measures like more low emission zones to proactively protect the public’s health.

 

Waste Management
The government has been alerted to the waste disposal crisis for more than a decade, and yet the Chief Executive repeated the decade-old rhetoric regarding the plan on waste issues but did not provide clear targets or a timetable. This is a cause for worry in our society. We are afraid that under such circumstances, the waste crisis will fall into the vicious circle of end-of-pipe solutions like landfill extensions and the construction of incinerators!



Climate change and energy
CY Leung proposed an inter-departmental steering committee that will be led by the Environment Bureau Chief, Mr. KS Wong, to promote green buildings in order to reduce emissions and to achieve energy efficiency. However, this measure will not be sufficient when it comes to achieving the stated goal of Hong Kong becoming a low-carbon city, and we are disappointed that the government has missed the opportunity with the review of the Scheme of Control to propose institutional measures to monitor the direction and vision of our energy policy.

 

Media inquiries:

-       Hon Keung Chu, Senior Environmental Affairs Manager, (overall response), Tel: 25285588

-       Melonie Chau, Senior Environmental Officer, (relating to air pollution) Tel: 25285588



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