Action needed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 December, 1993, 12:00am

IN HIS article headlined ''How HK business can use its clout for green cause'' (Sunday Morning Post, December 12), the Deputy Secretary of Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Tony Cooper, said he hoped to begin a ''major debate by publishing the Government's first comprehensive environmental review''.

But the review does not set out any comprehensive action plan for the community to debate. Nor is there any public consultation period to discuss its contents.

Mr Cooper claims the review is intended as an educational document. But the need for public education should not be used as an excuse for a lack of government initiatives. The public would be eager to debate government proposals on such issues as energyand water efficiency, waste minimisation, and market-based incentives for environmental compliance.

If Mr Cooper truly wants businesses to look at their environmental performance, then it must be in their economic interests to do so. Hong Kong businesses respond best to market pressure and opportunities. Debate is needed on the possibility of incentivessuch as tax credits, greater depreciation allowances for pollution control equipment, increased plot ratios to developers who build-in energy-saving technology, and so on.

Perhaps a mix of all of the above will be decided upon.

When Mr Cooper points out that customers can ''select energy efficient appliances and equipment'', why doesn't he at the same time require manufacturers to provide adequate information on the benefits and costs of running such appliances? This requirement has been highly successful in helping consumers elsewhere.

These are merely a few of the specific proposals that should be included in any action plan for halting environmental degradation.

The government should, within one year, put forward a green paper for public consultation, with specific environmental solutions and a timetable for their implementation.

CHRISTINE LOH Legislative Councillor