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. Hong Kong must cut pollution to attract foreign cash: study

by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Sept 17, 2007
Hong Kong must take drastic action to slash pollution to keep attracting foreign investors and protect public health, a new study released Monday said.

The city should follow the examples of Los Angeles and London, which have reaped the benefits from tougher emission targets and innovative anti-pollution measures, the Civic Exchange, a leading think-tank, said in a report.

"Air pollution has become the most serious environmental problem for Hong Kong, affecting not only public health but also the city's ability to attract and retain foreign investment," the study said.

"There is an urgent need to devise and implement a comprehensive air quality action plan to improve Hong Kong's air quality."

The report comes as Hong Kong residents endured a weekend of serious pollution, with the government warning people with heart or lung conditions to avoid doing exercise or outdoor activities in some parts of the city.

Lessons for Hong Kong: Air Quality Management in London and Los Angeles called for new stringent air quality standards, a study of Los Angeles' success in reducing emissions at its busy port and a re-examination of road pricing in light of London's introduction of the scheme.

It also called for greater cooperation with authorities in southern China, where heavy industry and factories, many owned by Hong Kong-based companies, are often blamed for much of the pollution here.

"Hong Kong aspires to be a financial centre, we need to be as clean as other financial centres," Christine Loh, chief executive of Civic Exchange, told reporters.

"Perhaps then the financial services sector will no longer feel worried about moving their people here."

Last year, foreign chambers of commerce, including the powerful British and American chambers, warned that executives from their home countries had expressed concerns about setting up in Hong Kong because of the pollution.

Hong Kong's famous Victoria Harbour was obscured by a grimy haze for around a third of last year, with the number of days of reduced visibility up by 172 percent since 1997.

China's rampant economic growth, particularly in the south, has seen a surge in demand for energy, and coal-burning plants that were closed down for environmental reasons have reopened.

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Worst pollution sites include India, China: survey
New York (AFP) Sept 16, 2007
Poisonous industrial sites in India, China and the former Soviet Union topped a new ranking this week of the world's most polluted places, where millions of people are threatened by toxic chemicals, a US-based environment watchdog said.

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