Deteriorating air quality in Hong Kong

June 15, 2008
By
However prosperous and vibrant Hong Kong is, it is common knowledge that the air quality of our city has been worsening, raking a scar on Hong Kong’s reputation as a cosmopolitan city. Government revenue derived from tourism has been gravely affected in recent years. It is high time the government and citizens faced the problem squarely and took actions promptly.

High cost might be involved to reverse the present situation. First and foremost, the government should have a tougher hand to improve air quality by implementing stricter limits on emission standard. Obviously, emission allowance for power plants is bound to be lowered since it accounts for 91% of sulphur dioxide and 50% of nitrogen oxides in the air. There greenhouse gases are the main culprits of air pollution in Hong Kong.

Citizens’ cooperation is nonetheless crucial. To tackle the billowing air pollution problem, high cost is inevitable. For the first simple step, people can replace existing lighting with energy- efficient light bulbs. Also feasible are to purchase energy- efficient office equipment and adopt environmentally- friendly building designs. It is seemingly true that not much energy could be saved when we replace a light bulb with the energy- efficient one, its effect would be manifest when the general public get used to this practice and replace all light bulbs at home, offices or large corporations.

Just like the neon lights hanging outside the building walls in our city centre as Christmas or New Year decoration, much light pollution is generated. They disturb the residents living in surrounding areas. Though we need to pay higher cost to purchase the energy- efficient light bulbs or alter our daily habits, it is worth it since such practice actually helps to save our world resources and protect our environment.

While it is suggested that colour- coded alert system be made and physical activities be cancelled on high- pollution days, doesn’t it sound more reasonable and practical for us to protect our environment from pollution at first hand? Physical activity is a prerequisite for us to keep our body healthy and fit. Thus, if we still want to have anaerobic activities, we must join hand with the government to do away with the health- threatening air pollutants.

Indeed, I am in favour of the proposal to encourage employers to allow their employees work at home. Western countries have taken the lead and the practice was carried out successfully, Hong Kong can simply follow suit. This can reduce the transport flow, especially during peak hours as less people need to travel by private cars or public transports. Emission from car engines can be reduced as a result. I regard this practice as one of the long- term solutions to resolve the air pollution problem.

Cleaning the air is part of the unrelenting battle to improve the environment as a whole. It is an indispensable element in promoting sustainable development in Hong Kong. Therefore, collective endeavour is expected to create a pollution- free city.





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