Think tank Civic Exchange says mainland is more aggressive in moving to tackle smog, which has put pressure on city to act on standards for particles.
Hong Kong is lagging behind the mainland when it comes to tackling air pollution, a think tank says in a summary of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s performance in office.
The conclusion from Civic Exchange came after the environment minister said on Wednesday that the city would measure pollutants smaller than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) at all its monitoring stations by March, a week after Beijing pledged to make similar data publicly available.
Former lawmaker Christine Loh Kung-wai, of Civic Exchange, said the mainland’s recent launch of a consultation to upgrade air quality objectives had put pressure on the Hong Kong government, which had yet to update its 24-year-old objectives despite Tsang’s pledge to do so last year.
“The mainland is much more aggressive than Hong Kong in dealing with setting air quality objectives,” she said. “This has happened because Hong Kong’s senior officials lack the understanding and courage to set demanding [objectives] and to use them as a tool to address the epidemic of public health impacts.”
Beijing will publish its PM2.5 data by January 23, Xinhua reported last week. The announcement came after the US embassy in Beijing began releasing its own PM2.5 readings via Twitter.
Civic Exchange’s head of environmental strategy, Mike Kilburn, said though many mainland cities would take years to reach the new emissions targets – released recently for public consultation – the central government had set targets with the aim of driving down pollution levels.
By contrast, Hong Kong set less stringent targets that were easier to achieve, perhaps for political reasons, Kilburn said.
Citing figures from the University of Hong Kong’s Hedley Environmental Index, Loh said more than 7,200 local deaths had been connected to air pollution in the seven years Tsang had been at the city’s helm.
The Environmental Protection Department last week revealed that roadside air pollution levels last year were the worst on record.
To read the full article, click here.