Green alarm goes unheard

Benson Chao

HONG KONG, Taiwan and Guangzhou tertiary students are informed about environmental protection but are doing too little about it, a survey shows.

Conducted by the New Asia College of Chinese University of Hong Kong, the survey polled 590 undergraduates from Guangzhou's Zhongshan University, Taiwan's Sun Yat Sen University and the Chinese University.

Most of the undergraduates conceded that they lacked the knowledge to channel their complaints to the appropriate authority while their living environment did not provide facilities for environmental protection.

For instance, there was no rubbish collection centre that separated non-recyclable and recyclable trash on any of the three campuses.

The results also showed that the territory's undergraduates were content with their living environment even though they thought air pollution needed extra attention.

Students from Taiwan and Guangzhou believed that their living environments were below an acceptable level, particularly water and air quality.

Choy Hoi-ying, student leader of an undergraduate invitation programme which involved students from the three universities, criticised the Hong Kong Government for not implementing a thorough and long-term environmental protection policy.

''The Government has devoted all its energy to publicising the green message but it is obvious that propaganda isn't enough. We have to have practical and clear steps to follow,'' he said.

''Though environmental protection education is there for tertiary students, it seems to me that undergraduates are still not taking an active role in exercising their duties. It is a matter of initiative.'' On the contrary, propaganda was what Guangzhou needed, said Cao Xin, the student leader from Zhongshan University. ''Local government should educate the older generation about environmental conservation. For them, the concept of energy conversation is very shallow and somehow this message might then be passed down to the next generation.'' But, Mr Cao felt optimistic about protecting the environment in China since it was still a developing country and could learn from the mistakes of developed nations.

Hsiung Shu-chuan, the Sun Yat Sen University student leader, said that the environmental protection movement of Taiwanese undergraduates was still restricted to the campus.

''The green message of Taiwan universities does not reach the community nor does it co-operate with local environmental groups. Yet I am glad that some of the legislators are somehow environmentally conscious because they will veto projects that would harm the environment.''