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HK Chief Pledges Stronger Efforts to Tackle Pollution

Hong Kong's top official Donald Tsang pledged in Hong Kong on Wednesday to step up efforts to tackle pollution to make the city cleaner and greener.

"Making Hong Kong a cleaner, greener city will be a priority of my administration," said Tsang, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), at a joint business community luncheon.

"Hong Kong's high-density and high-pressure living means that we have to give our residents room to relax," he said.

Tsang said that his administration will propose legislation to require ultra low sulfur diesel to be used for all commercial and industrial processes, and that when the administration negotiate new agreements with local power companies, it will link their rates of return to reductions in emissions.

"I will also inject 1 billion HK dollars into the Environmental and Conservation Fund, and review funding guidelines, so we can make better use of the money to raise awareness about environmental protection and conservation activities," he said.

Efforts to be taken to improve the environment also include pushing ahead with greening plans for Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, designating another country park on Lantau Island and lower development densities in some areas to improve air flow and avoid the 'wall effect'.

Tsang pointed to the fact that Hong Kong's air quality problem is not just confined to Hong Kong, noting manufacturing operations in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) in Chinese mainland's Guangdong Province are big contributors to air pollution that affects not just Hong Kong, but also Guangzhou and important cities such as Dongguan, Foshan, Zhongshan and Shenzhen in the delta.

"Our national government has outlined measures to address this problem at source," he said, adding that basically, high-polluting operations will be required to clean up their processes, or shut down.

There are some 60,000 Hong Kong linked operations in the PRD likely to be affected. Many of them, like manufacturing, will require new additional measures, he said, noting that restructuring, upgrading and relocation need to be seriously considered.

"We will help these industries adopt clean production technologies and processes. This inevitably reduces emissions -- and by extension the air pollution affecting the PRD -- as well as improve competitiveness and corporate image," he said.

Improving the living environment and the air quality in the PRD will also help maintain Hong Kong's attractiveness as an international city.

"Poor air quality threatens our long-term competitiveness. That is why I will be working hard to see good progress over the next five years," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2007)

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