Poll highlights worsening air quality

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 June, 2006, 12:00am

Environmental protection rated poor

Public satisfaction with Hong Kong's environmental performance has fallen significantly because of concerns over air quality, according to poll results released yesterday.

This 'sadly telling' fact emerged during preparation of a 'sustainable development' index, in which respondents were asked to rate 10 aspects of life in the city.

While the overall index declined only slightly, satisfaction with environmental protection fell from fifth place to ninth in interviews with 2,067 people aged 18 and over between October last year and February this year.

The index, compiled by City University and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce was 102.5, compared to 102.8 a year earlier and the 100 of the base year of 2003, reflecting a view that only little progress has been made on sustainable development.

'What's interesting and sadly telling, [is that] environmental protection has decreased in terms of people's happiness on how well the city performed,' said Anne Copeland Chiu, who was in charge of the study.

About half the respondents believed clean air was the most important factor for higher satisfaction on the environment, followed by responsible waste management. More people also placed greater emphasis on reducing climate change, compared with last year.

Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, the 'ambassador' of the index, said the government, business and public should work together to improve the environment.

'It is clear from this year's index that the area of greatest public disappointment is our worsening air quality,' she said. 'This is adversely affecting Hong Kong's attractiveness as a place in which to live and do business.

'We urgently need the government to take a lead in tackling this serious problem. But, like most issues affecting our quality of life, government action on its own will not do the trick.'

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of 10 priority areas for sustaining quality of life in Hong Kong and list aspects that could improve them. They also had to give a satisfaction rating for each area.

Education continued to top priority areas of sustainability, followed by health and hygiene, and environmental protection.

Health and hygiene, followed by civil liberties and human rights, and urban planning, had the highest ratings while population policy was at the bottom.