South China Morning Post
After an eight-year fight against air pollution, WWF Hong Kong CEO Eric Bohm has decided to leave his job and the city after living here for 31 years. His decision reflects his disappointment with the government for neglecting air quality, but is primarily motivated by his refusal to let his asthmatic wife, who suffered two pneumonia attacks in a year, continue to breathe Hong Kong’s polluted air.
Bohm’s frustration with the government’s lack of progress on air quality is most clearly evidenced by the recent engine idling ban, which WWF helped bring about, but has been weakened due to pressure from transport interest groups. Bohm points to this as “evidence of the stumbling block to environmental progress posed by a political system that responds to vested interests rather than public opinion, and a civil service that is reluctant to rock the boat.”
Although frustrated with the government’s lack of action on clean air, Bohm still holds out hope for the situation. He believes Hong Kong’s citizens do care about the air and the environment, and says that C.Y. Leung, has an important opportunity to make a difference. Furthermore, with the the possibility of universal suffrage in 2017, there is motivation for Leung to listen to the public on environmental issues.
“If Leung wants the honour of being the city’s first elected leader, he should use his first term to show that he takes air quality seriously.”
The government has also just extended the franchises of three bus companies by 10 years, without clearly outlining a plan for retiring old vehicles with old and heavily polluting engines.
“If Leung is to have any credibility on the environment, he needs to revisit issues like idling engines and polluting buses. He could start by making an exception of these buses and subsidising their private owners to fast-track their retirement.”
The full article can be found in SCMP’s archives (subscription only).