article on Xinhua about air pollution in HK:
The Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong said Tuesday that 23 pollution convictions were recorded in February and more than half of the convictions were under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance.
According to the Friends of the Earth, an environment protecting organization, the number of low visibility days at the Hong Kong International Airport, where tourists get the first impression of the city, reached a record high last year. And the number of clear days in the downtown area is even less.
Emissions of vehicles and power plants, as well as pollutants from the Pearl River Delta are considered the main reasons for the bad air of the city.
A survey published by Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Lung Foundation said that 30 percent of elderly citizens over the age of 70 complained about respiratory problems in 2003 because of bad air, compared with 4.9 percent in 1991. The percentage has risen six times within 12 years.
Respiratory experts have called on the government to take immediate measures in air pollution control, including a smoking ban in all catering services by 2007, the most difficult part for Hong Kong’s long delayed dream of smoke free.
More experts are concerned that the severe air pollution will not only harm the health of the public but also damage the image of Hong Kong’s tourism industry, an important source of revenue for the city.
Friends of the Earth said it has interviewed 129 tour guides between March 8 and 10, during which half of the interviewees rated the air quality of Hong Kong as either severe or very severeand nearly 40 percent said tourists had complained about air pollution.
A spokesman for Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department said Monday that the government is determined to achieve the emission targets by cooperation with neighboring Guangdong Province.
The governments of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong have agreed to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2),nitrogen oxides (NOx), respirable suspended particulates (RSP) andvolatile organic compounds (VOC) by 40 percent, 20 percent, 55 percent and 55 percent, respectively by the year of 2010.
For the electricity generation, the biggest source of air pollution in Hong Kong, the Department has asked power companies to accelerate emission reduction projects, increase the use of ultra-low sulfur coal and use natural gas for power generation as much as possible.
Meanwhile, a large scale of educational campaign of anti-smoke is launched this month in catering service industry in order to reach the target of eliminating smoking in all catering places in Hong Kong by the year of 2007.
The Department also planned to pursue additional measures in its struggle for better air, such as introducing Euro IV emission standards to newly-registered vehicles.