Clearing the air

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For the past several years most every story about Hong Kong’s poor air quality has put a hefty amount of the blame on neighboring Guangdong province. It is, after all, a global manufacturing center with a power supply problem that has often forced manufacturers to rely on diesel generators. A survey released by the Hong Kong government’s Environmental Protection Department in 2002 indicated that the bordering province was the source of as much as 80% of air pollution in Hong Kong. But a new study could change how people look at that figure.

The report, by the NGO Civic Exchange and the Institute for the Environment at Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology, argues that Hong Kong has more control over its pollution problem than previously thought. When poor air quality was considered on a daily basis, local sources of pollution were the main factor more than half the time, it says. In response, the Hong Kong government pointed to areas where locally generated pollution has been reduced in recent years. But many people in Hong Kong believe air quality is one of the city’s most serious problems. And with this new study, they can be expected to push even harder for the Hong Kong government to do more about those pollution sources it can control.