Authorities must have a greener mentality to lead us out of choking

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 July, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 July, 2015, 12:01am

While Hong Kong has a justified reputation as an international financial centre, it is also well known as a gas-guzzling metropolis with poor air quality.

Every day, Hong Kong people complain about the choking air. We take short breaths when we pass a group of smokers or on a pavement next to a congested road. And we hold our breath when large vehicles spewing fumes roar past. We watch the news with dismay when the air polluton index is high.

When you look at the areas where the readings from the index are particularly bad, such as Central and Causeway Bay, where traffic congestion and population density are at their highest, you wonder if Hong Kong's air pollution problem is beyond repair.

It is even worse north of the border. The most polluted city in China is Linfen in Shanxi province. Linfen's air pollution is caused by its factories, power plants, coal production and transportation.

There are few air currents to disperse the air pollution, and it accumulates. When people refer to a place where the sun doesn't shine, that's Linfen. Since the problem of smog is so severe there, the skyline doesn't appear blue but a grey blanket of choking death.

Economic reforms and the open-door policy may be the reason so many Chinese cities are on the list of the world's most polluted cities. These reforms have placed economic growth as the No1 priority. However, the industrial age of China has a price - environmental destruction from the factories, power plants, motor vehicles, coal transportation, and other air polluting sources.

It is true that the reforms have driven China to economic success and international recognition, but at what cost? I hope that in the future, the authorities in Hong Kong and north of the border will develop a greener mentality.

Eddy Fung Hin-chung, Tai Po