Climate change


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am

Beijing is motivated by altruism

I refer to Tom Holland's Monitor column ('Beijing's stance on airline emissions stinks of hypocrisy', February 21), which reflects his prejudice.

Without telling us what he knows about emissions, global warming and their supposedly adverse economic effects, he presumes that there is a fair formula to calculate the damages. Without any comparative review of the European Union's tariff on airline emissions, he asserts that it is not costly.

The Wall Street Journal published an article on January 27, signed by 16 scientists who hold that 'it makes no sense at all to back expensive programmes that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of 'incontrovertible' evidence [of greenhouse gas causing economic losses]'.

The article refers to William Nordhaus, professor of economics at Yale University's school of forestry and environmental studies, who has recommended a policy that 'allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls' because 'more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet'.

The EU's keenness to prematurely impose a unilateral tax on airline emissions resembles its desperate attempt to claim moral high ground while no tangible objective appears attainable to salvage the reputation of a lethargic continent where profligacy is the only sign of dynamism.

Its tax on airline emissions is ultra vires because it has no authority to tax foreign nationals for activities outside its jurisdiction. Airport tax for use of ground facilities is different from an out-of-jurisdiction levy on flight paths over international and foreign territories.

Heathrow Airport's differential tax on passengers according to their destinations is similar to doctors' different charges for rich and poor patients. China overlooks Heathrow's high airport tax on China-bound passengers, probably treating it gracefully as a form of aid. China's refusal to join the airline emissions scheme, where it could reap pecuniary benefits, is evidence of altruism and not hypocrisy.

If Holland really cares about global warming, he should realise that Western countries' cattle farms are the world's predominant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Western eaters of beef can't in good faith complain about emissions.

Pierce Lam, Central

We should welcome migrants

Our government officials like to delude themselves that Hong Kong is 'Asia's world city' but their actions denote that this has become little more than a tired slogan.

If Hong Kong really has serious ambitions to be the leading city in the region, we must reset our moral compass so that we reach out in all directions - easterly, southerly and westerly - instead of focusing exclusively northwards to China.

We need to reassert that we are an international city, rather than meekly accepting that we are being absorbed into China. A good start would be to set aside the patronising and prosaic attitudes that are prevalent when dealing with ethnic minorities and guest workers.

These people contribute significantly socially, culturally and economically to our community, and in this context I completely agree with your editorial ('Maids deserve more consideration', March 4) and with Mark Ranson ('Grateful to Filipinos who nursed dad', March 3).

The success of the bona fide 'world cities' of London and New York was their willing acceptance, assimilation and integration of migrants. The stance of the candidates for the post of next chief executive is not encouraging. Hong Kong should not miss the boat, as Singapore is more progressive in these matters.

I. M. Wright, Happy Valley

Incinerator will benefit Hong Kong

The three chief executive candidates participated in a debate on Sunday. They gave their differing views on the environment, with Henry Tang Ying-yen saying he thought an incinerator was necessary.

In this respect, he differed from the other two candidates, Leung Chun-ying and Albert Ho Chun-yan.

I agree that we should build an incinerator. We cannot dump all Hong Kong's solid waste into landfills as they will soon reach capacity. Therefore, it is necessary to build an incinerator in the city.

Although some people have concerns about possible air pollution, we have to deal with the problem of limited space in our landfills.

Dicky Chiu Wai-ho, Tseung Kwan O

Let people work for longer

I am pleased that the government intends to allocate more resources to helping the elderly in our society.

They contributed a lot to the city during their working lives and should not be ignored after they have retired.

The government is trying to make improvements in pensioners' lives. For example, it was announced in the budget that additional residential-care places would be provided. Also, two pilot estates will be built aimed at the elderly, in Tin Shui Wai and North Point.

They will provide recreational and medical services within the complex for senior citizens.

With these initiatives, the government is showing that it cares for the elderly, but more needs to be done.

It must provide even more care home places in future than it has already pledged to provide. Also, officials must do more to help elderly people who are suffering financial hardship.

Many elderly people have to wait for years to get a place in a home and then face high fees.

The administration should also take the lead and rejuvenate what I call the 'silver hair' market.

The government could allow civil servants to delay their retirement age from 60 to 65 if they wish.

Many people who are aged 60 are physically capable of continuing to work and this would delay by five years their dependence on their pension.

We should all work together to try to create a comfortable atmosphere for our senior citizens in the city.

W. H. Chan, Kwun Tong

Punish those who flout fire safety laws

The fatal fire in June in Ma Tau Wai Road drew public attention to the fact that some buildings have fire safety problems. In this building, there were many sub-divided units and it was difficult for residents to get out.

The government must ensure that building management and owners comply with the city's fire safety regulations.

Stairwells and all fire exits must always be kept clear so residents can escape quickly from the scene of a blaze.

Officials must force all relevant parties to comply with fire prevention legislation.

Building owners who fail to do this should be punished with fines and, where need be, with a term of imprisonment.

Kitty Choi, Ma On Shan