Less talk, more action action on green issues

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 January, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 January, 1994, 12:00am

THE Deputy Secretary of Planning, Environment, and Lands, Mr Tony Cooper, defended the Government's much-awaited review, The Hong Kong Environment: A Green Challenge for the Community, on the grounds that it was an educational document aimed at raising environmental consciousness (Sunday Morning Post, January 9).

All well and good. But educational documents can never substitute for a detailed environmental action plan. Hong Kong desperately needs fresh policy objectives and a timetable for their implementation.

This review fails to provide that. The Legislative Council's Environmental Affairs Panel dropped the idea to debate the review because it contained no new policies. A better way to raise environmental awareness is to properly link economic choices to their environmental consequences. As a community, we could then publicly debate who should pay and who should be rewarded for cleaning up the environment.

The Government's role would be to provide reliable information about recent technology, innovative programmes, and our own environmental conditions. Public consultation and debate would then help us find the most appropriate approach to environmental problems.

For instance, should diesel fuel, which presently has a far more negative environmental effect, be priced below unleaded fuel? Should we use the revenue from a diesel fuel tax to reward taxi and heavy goods vehicle owners who purchase better quality vehicles? Should we increase the plot ratios of developers who install in-built energy-saving technology? Should the Government allow the electricity utilities to earn a return on the money they save customers through energy efficiency? Should the Government direct profits made from developments along new rail links into more rail transport? Government policy must relate people's environmental concerns to economic solutions if it expects to gain widespread community involvement and consensus. The Government should, therefore, within one year, put forward a policy paper with specific environmental solutions for public consultation.

CHRISTINE LOH Legislative Councillor