Environmental News Archive

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Hk Firms Snub Clean Air Initiative

Monday 27 November 2006

Just 100 companies out of tens of thousands agree to cut emissions

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's businesses are snubbing an initiative to help ease
the city's worsening air pollution, a report said yesterday, amid reports
that chronic smog is hurting business and health.

Just 100 Hong Kong firms out of tens of thousands have signed up to a
protocol aimed at cutting emissions from factories in southern China.

Most of Hong Kong's pollution comes from the region's
heavily-industrialised southern Pearl River Delta and most of those are
owned by companies based in the wealthy former British colony.

The initiative put forward by the local General Chamber of Commerce
compels signatories to adopt international emissions standards - which are
much lower than the often-antiquated factories and power plants of China
are capable of matching.

The move had been backed by the Hong Kong government as a step towards
combating pollution, which has become a highly- emotive political issue as
air quality has worsened in the past few years.

But a chamber source told the Sunday Morning Post newspaper that companies
had shown little interest.

"We are disappointed by the cool response," the source was quoted as
saying. "When we are talking about how to clean up the sky, many companies
and big bosses do not even bother to sign a piece of paper," the source

"There is a lack of social responsibility among the business sector."

The report said the revelations were likely to embarrass political leader
Donald Tsang, whose government claims to be doing all it can to battle

His reputation is likely to be harmed by the fact that many of his
government ministers are among factory owners who have not signed up, the
report said.

Government estimates said that more than 50 days last year suffered
visibility of lower than a kilometre as a result of the smog.
Environmentalists say the figure is too conservative and cite tests at the
airport which found smog reduced visibility on more than 100 days of the

Such is the concern over pollution that many business groups and even a
senior government Cabinet member warning that the poor air was deterring
foreign businesses from setting up shop here because they could not find
executives willing to settle in such unhealthy conditions.

The tourism industry has also warned that the air is causing concern among

Despite government pledges to tackle the problem in tandem with
authorities in China, there is a perception that Hong Kong is too weak to
make a difference with Chinese leaders unwilling to do anything that may
stall its economic expansion. - AFP