The that the Hong Kong government takes immediate measures

The World Health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution (Science Daily). Air pollution in Hong Kong has become a severe problem in the recent years mainly due to high-density of motor vehicles, marine vessels, and coal-burning power plants. Air pollution in Hong Kong is also compounded by high levels of industrial pollution in neighbouring Chinese factories of the Pearl River Delta. While Hong Kong can do little to control wind patterns from China, it can take greater measures to combat air pollution. Despite concerns that imposing stricter regulations concerning air pollution will harm Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the most business-friendly cities in the world, something must be done. Hong Kong Government must legislate stricter laws and enforce penalties to combat air pollution in Hong Kong in order to prevent further destruction of the environment, safeguard human health, and make Hong Kong a more attractive place to live and work. Exposure to outdoor air pollution causes 3 million premature deaths worldwide annually, predominantly heart and lung disease (WHO), of which more than 1,600 were in Hong Kong in 2016 (HKU School of Public Health). People exposed to high levels of airborne particulate and CO2 pollutants experience breathing difficulties and worsening of existing lung and heart conditions and in the long-term causing cancer. A 2016 study found that “air pollution increased the risk of dying from cancer by 22% in Hong Kong”(The Guardian). Hong Kong faces the serious problem of air pollution from road and marine transport, and its proximity to China which is responsible for 60-70% of air pollutants (Hong Kong environmental Department). In the the first month of 2017, there were more than 300,000 doctor’s visits linked to smog. Levels of cancer-causing pollutants have exceeded the WHO norms for the last 15 years, often 3-5 times more than acceptable levels. The serious toxicological impact on human health of air pollution results in more deaths per year than automobile accidents (Science Daily), therefore, it is vital that the Hong Kong government takes immediate measures to control the emission of CO2 polluting particles and particulates to protect the health of its citizens.In addition to being dangerous to human health, air pollution can have severe negative environmental effects, such as acid rain, haze, and global climate (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Scientists predict air pollution would contribute to the increase of the average world temperature by 1.5 to 3.5 degrees celsius by the year 2100, and rising of sea levels by between 0.25 and 1 meter. Moreover, extreme weather events will happen more often and be more severe. Hong Kong in recent years has experienced a great number of environmental problems such as severe black rains, unusually high temperatures, and intense tropical storms. These events cause irreparable damage to Hong Kong’s fragile eco-system and disrupt the daily life of its residents, both their business and leisure activities.    The detrimental effects of air pollution on the environment and health make Hong Kong a less appealing place to live and work. Historically, the city has been considered as one of the most dynamic, vibrant places in the world, and a liberal, business-friendly environment which when combined with the great quality of life provided by Hong Kong’s ample green spaces and magnificent nature is even better attracting people looking for jobs in proximity with China. However, this will change if Hong Kong does not take more measures to combat air pollution. Residents and global companies that have their headquarters in Hong Kong will look for other cities to live and work in, and Hong Kong will lose its competitive advantage. Conversely, Hong Kong government states that it is addressing the problem of air pollution; however, many of its actions have been ineffective because it does not want to jeopardize its reputation as a business-friendly city. The government has signed a series of agreements with Guangdong province directly to the north. Neverthelss, according to Haas’ article they are unenforceable and have failed to provide “a meaningful impact” according to the local governments and activists. In addition, Hong Kong government has not banned older diesel vehicles or regulated the level of sulfur fuel, which many container ships can burn right up until their sail into port causing more air pollution. Hong Kong has a lot of sunshine and winds and can do more to promote wind and solar energy, and electric vehicles, such as city’s public buses and mini-buses. Providing incentives to local businesses to make the city ‘greener’ will also improve the economy. The government assumes extra regulation will harm its reputation as a business-friendly city, but in fact, stricter measures to control pollution will improve the environment will in the long term and contribute to the health, well-being, and prosperity of its citizens. In conclusion, the Hong Kong Government needs to take immediate and serious measures to tackle the dangerous air pollution caused by land and sea transport, power plants and the neighbouring industrial province of Guangdong. Air pollution has already had a severe negative effect on the health of Hong Kong residents, on the beautiful but fragile environment, and on the city’s reputation as a great place to live and work. While in recent years, Hong Kong has recognized the problem, more aggressive measures such as tougher controls on the vehicle and industrial emissions and targeted support for renewable energy solutions are needed. Finally, a greater awareness and a collective effort from residents to live a greener way of life will enhance Hong Kong’s quality of life now and in the future.

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