Reply To: Proposed Hong Kong Air Quality Objectives Not Focused on Public Health


Commentary by Christine Loh in S China Morning Post:

The government was caught napping with regard to Hong Kong's air quality and then caught fudging the issue. That's not a pretty picture; our air quality remains a serious daily threat to public health. It's not that officials don't want to improve air quality – of course they do – but they still can't figure out how they can build highways, bridges, runways and incinerators without causing more air pollution. Their priority is to build infrastructure; they believe this is what matters more – you can always clean up later. They don't see that they can do both.

Earlier this month, Beijing released tighter air quality objectives for the mainland. Hong Kong officials didn't seem to know this was going to happen. It put pressure on them to come to a decision on Hong Kong's own objectives after two years of dithering.

Our officials' objective has shifted from health protection to infrastructure protection.

It is this attitude that got them into trouble in the first place. They have left the cleaning up so late that catching up will require many urgent measures, such as banning old polluting vehicles, pedestrianising urban areas, regulating ships' emissions, switching energy sources, and more. If the next administration retains the same mindset, it too will keep on fudging rather than pushing for aggressive pollution reduction.