Cleaner skies for Hong Kong sign now

An Open Letter to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, President of the PeopleХs Republic of China

It is no secret that Hong Kong air pollution has worsened in recent years. There have been too many days this year when our city has been shrouded in the haze of a polluted sky. And there have been many polluted days when many of us had made the decision to keep our babies and children inside, rather than expose them to the pollution.

Our concern is not just that we are unable to take our children out to play but that the current and future health of our children, our families and ourselves is under constant threat from the polluted air.

A large number of us have lived in Hong Kong for many years and call the city home. Worryingly we have seen the air quality worsen considerably in recent years and we are constantly asking ourselves- how bad is it going to be in two years time, in five years time, in ten years time? For many of us Hong Kong is home and we have nowhere else to go should we decide we can not bear the pollution anymore, which it is why, we feel, it is imperative that the government acts, and acts now!

Others of us will call Hong Kong for a much shorter time, and many of us are already considering a move back to cities and countries where the air is clean or at least cleaner, due to the worsening air pollution. For many of us our expat packages do not compensate for the worsening air, and its potential and actual impact on our childrenХs health. If we go, we take with us the expert knowledge and skills we were recruited for in the first place and with it goes Hong KongХs competitive edge and Фinternational cityХ status.

We are each trying to do our bit to lessen the impact of our own carbon footprints but we are also aware that this is a much bigger issue than we can deal with alone.

We are asking you, the government, to take decisive action in tackling Hong KongХs worsening air quality. We make the plea for ourselves but also for our children- wouldnХt it be nice if the children who will one day run this city are able to grow up as children should grow up- happy and healthy without constant trips to the doctors and hospitals; without the long term health effects the pollution brings.

There are countless statistics detailing the effects of Hong KongХs air pollution on our city. Here are just a few:

"Pollution is a major cause of illness in Hong Kong. Every year, pollution is the cause of around 1,600 deaths (four per day), 64,200 hospital admissions (176 per day) and 6,811,960 doctor visits (18,600 per day). These serious health effects result in annual community losses of over HK$2 billion (around US$255 million) in direct health care costs and productivity losses, and HK$19 billion (around US$2.5 billion) in further costs arising from pain, suffering and personal loss." (

We would like to know what it will take before the government will take action. Do people have to be dying from pollution related illnesses? But wait, they are already doing that. Do our children have to be suffering from pollution related illnesses? But wait, that is already happening. Does our pollution have to be forcing people to leave Hong Kong and preventing others from settling here? But wait, that is also already happening.

So what now? If the government is having a difficult time coming up with ways to combat the pollution, we have a few solutions for them:
- No car days, as is currently practiced in Manila and Naples as two examples
- A road tax, similar to that introduced in London which forces drivers wishing to enter the city centre with their cars to pay a high toll
- Working with Hong Kong owned factories in China to find ways for them to reduce the pollution they create, whether this means encouraging them to run fewer days a week, or to implement tested pollution reducing methods
- Making it more expensive to own and run a car in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has a public transport system that is the envy of cities around the world- it is cheap, convenient, reliable and fast. Hong Kong as a city does not need the number of car owners and drivers it currently has.
- Banning completely, or at least charging for plastic bags.
- Introducing the mandatory separation of waste at source into recyclables, biodegradable rubbish and rubbish.

We realize that the government is tacking several items on our list, but it is our belief that the issue is not being dealt with as urgently as it should. More needs to be done and faster.

Concerned Parents of Hong Kong.

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Dena WardBy:
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Chief Executive of Hong Kong, President of the People's Republic of China


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