Children urge tough stand on environment

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 November, 2007, 12:00am

Children want tougher policies to protect the environment and create a better future, a survey shows.

Smoking should be banned in all public areas, said 90.1 per cent of the 1,757 pupils from Primary Three to Form Two when asked their views on environmental policies.

'Children still have to breathe in second-hand smoke when walking in the street even though smoking has been banned in most indoor public areas,' said Priscilla Wong Nok-hei, 12.

Some 85.6 per cent of the children said the government should legislate to stop idling engines.

'Many school buses leave engines on while waiting for students to get on the bus,' Nok-hei said. 'Passers-by and schoolchildren nearby can't help inhaling the polluted air ... it's a waste [of energy] if they don't turn off idling engines.'

Leung Chun-lok, also 12, said district council poll candidates wasted paper by distributing leaflets. 'They should do promotion via e-mail and on websites instead,' he said.

The poll was conducted by 80 pupils under a Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association social participation scheme.

Meanwhile, Environmental Protection Department deputy director Carlson Chan Ka-shun spoke at RTHK's City Forum on the benefits of a ban on idling engines.

'Pedestrians and shops can directly benefit from the proposed ban, as emissions will decrease,' he said. 'Heat and noise problems created by idling engines will also be minimised.

'We aim to strike a balance between environmental protection and the interests of industry. Exemptions will be granted to taxi drivers, for example, when many people are queuing at taxi stands.'

But Wong Po-keung, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Kowloon Taxi and Lorry Owners' Association, said it was impossible to impose the ban on taxis. 'Sometimes we might only have to wait a few minutes for a customer, though there are not many people at taxi stands,' he said. 'Would we then need to turn off the engine? The amount of emission might be greater, as we have to restart engines more often.'