Reply To: Workshop on air pollution on 10 Jan 08


Just sent this to Ove Arup, consultant looking at public opinion re HK’s new air quality objectives; you too can comment, by email to: [email protected]

I wish to comment on Hong Kong’s moves towards new air quality objectives.

Firstly, it is woeful that we have such antiquated air quality objectives; good that the objectives are to be revised.

Then, as a "World City", Hong Kong has an obligation to have Air Quality Objectives that meet the best science based evidence, and put people’s health first.

This means adopting the WHO’s most stringent guidelines.

Sadly, this is not to say that we will then promptly achieve the objectives, but we will know the goals.

Further, the objectives should be subject to regular (annual?) review, again based on the best international science.

It may seem startling to aim for high standards – why not just shilly shally, set "Objectives" that suit our filthy air, and so are readily achieved, never mind the health of local people?

But, as a "World City" we should aspire to the best.

– also, sadly, in Hong Kong we have become accustomed to having a polluted environment. Local children surely think it’s normal that for much of the year the sun doesn’t set on the horizon, but fades into smog. Plus, our beaches too often fail to make the A grade; several seem stuck in dire condition.

So, I doubt many people will be startled that there is a gulf between our air quality and our objectives – but at least we will all be aiming for air of a standard befitting a "World City" (once dubbed the "Pearl of the Orient" – a grubby pearl these days).

While to adopt less stringent standards, to aim low: that would be shameful for our "World CIty", showing political expediency – and lack of political courage – trumping the importance of human health.