HK really has to speed up to halt worsening air quality

Updated: 2017-09-22 06:09

(HK Edition)

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Many people, especially the better educated young professionals, love to talk enthusiastically about their concerns for the worsening environment not only in Hong Kong, but around the world.

Indeed, it's fashionable to be an environmentalist even if all they ever care about is making enough money to rent a pad in Wan Chai and have fun in some expensive joints in Lan Kwai Fong. Nobody has done a survey to show how far young people in Hong Kong are willing to go to improve the environment of their own city.

Maybe, that's not really necessary. All the signs are that they don't want to make the smallest sacrifice, even to avoid contributing to the worsening air quality which is posing an increasingly serious threat to public health.

Every weekend, the streets in my neighborhood are clogged by pollutant belching SUVs delivering families with screaming children to eat and shop. They have to drive their cars notwithstanding the fact that that neighborhood is a major public transport hub with a wide selection of bus routes linked to almost every urban district on the island or across the harbor in Kowloon.

To be sure, the love of cars by Hong Kong people is hard to change. But even if you're a car enthusiast who can't do without wheels, you can at least opt for a clean car, preferably run on electricity, for the sake of the environment which you seem to feel so passionately about.

But, the sale of electric cars in Hong Kong has remained minuscule in proportion to the total. Experiences in other cities have shown that tax incentives are having little effect in helping to popularize the use of electric cars.

Some governments, including those of the UK, France and the Chinese mainland, have set a deadline for the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars. They are doing that with the recognition that the policy will have a major impact on the car industry which is responding by boosting the production of electric cars.

It should be an easy and simple decision for Hong Kong to make because it doesn't even have a car industry to worry about.

HK really has to speed up to halt worsening air quality

(HK Edition 09/22/2017 page8)