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Secretary for the Environment: It's just a matter of changing habits

出自香港新聞網 - 樹仁新傳系學生實習習作

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Hong Kong people’s awareness of health issues have continued to rise over the last few years, thus demanding higher standards of living environment. Pollution problems, in particular, have become a major area of concern of most residents nowadays. Today, Mr. Edward Yau Tang Wah, the Secretary for the Environment, has taken the opportunity of the weekly seminar held by the Department of Journalism and Communication of Hong Kong Shue Yan University to answer students’ enquiries on various environmental issues.

Urban Development vs Heritage Conservation

In the past year, conservation of heritages has generated heated discussions in Hong Kong. The dismantling of Queen’s Pier and Star Ferry Clock Tower brought about controversies over urban development being facilitated at the expense of heritage conservation. Mr. Edward Yau said, “It’s just like the two sides of a coin. One side represents urban development and the other refers to preservation of valued architectures. If the coin is tilted, meaning that either urban development or heritage conservation is being emphasized more, our society cannot progress harmoniously as a whole.”

Banning Idling Engines

According to Mr. Yau, air pollution is generally more concerned by the locals as it directly affects health, public medical welfare and economic development of the city. He emphasized that this year’s policy address has perfectly demonstrated that the Government has given a larger coverage on environmental protection in recent years. A lot of measures have been implemented so as to alleviate pollution problems no matter how little the positive results may mean. “We do not want to spare any chance to improve the quality of our environment,” Mr. Yau reaffirmed.

Recently, public consultation on banning idling engines has started. Drivers who opposed the plan claimed that restarting the engines wastes petrol. A student doubted the effectiveness of the plan as it may be consuming resources rather than saving energy and the environment. Mr. Yau recalled a Canadian research which pointed out that the emission of exhaust gas when restarting the engine is equivalent to that when leaving the engines on for 10 seconds. “It’s certainly worth it if you are idling the engines for more than 10 seconds,” Mr. Yau added. He stressed that although the results of this program may not be very significant, the Government has to take every opportunity it has to improve the environment as Hong Kong people have increasing demands over the quality of life.


Source Separation Program

Some students criticized the Government of doing little to promote the Program on Source Separation of Domestic Waste as the recycle bins are not seen everywhere, making it is inconvenient for citizens far away from the bins to support the plan. A student even pointed out that she had witnessed not only once that the cleaners of her residential building regrouped the trash in all the recycle bins during collection of garbage. She questioned how the Government monitors the recycling scheme and doubted whether residents who supported the scheme could really be of help. Mr. Yau immediately asked the student to provide him with the name of her residential building so that he can reflect the issue to his department. He also agreed with the previous students, “We acknowledge the problem of having too few recycling bins in estates. We do hope that there will be a set of the bins on every floor in each building in the future.” He added that it is most important the residents changed their habits.

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