Hk Businesses Told To Cough Up For PollutionPublished by MAC on 2006-11-28
HK Businesses Told To Cough Up For Pollution
28th November 2006
HONG KONG - A top Hong Kong business leader hit out at companies in the territory on Monday for not taking responsibility for the pollution they are causing in the city.
US investment bank Merrill Lynch issued a scathing report on Hong Kong last week, saying the bad air could negatively impact the property sector and was scaring off skilled global talent. "Companies that are creating the pollution -- they should resolve their own problems," David Eldon, the head of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and a former Asia Chairman of HSBC Holdings PLC, said at a "Business for Clean Air" conference in the city.
"Why should the Hong Kong taxpayer put their own money into helping some company that's been making a lot of money already. This is a business issue, business needs to deal with it," he added. Hong Kong's pollution is largely caused by coal-fired power stations, but huge amounts of smog-inducing particulates are blown across the border from southern China, where thousands of Hong Kong-owned factories now operate.
Many manufacturers have paid lip service to Hong Kong's deteriorating air quality, but have argued the costs of going green would erode their competitiveness and even lead to factory closures.
A voluntary "Clean Air Charter" for businesses launched last year to cut emissions and improve polluter disclosure has so far drawn 500 signatories, a response Eldon described as "pretty bad" with some major industrialists among the absentees.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, who signed the government up to the "Clean Air Charter" at the conference, acknowledged the scale of the problem.
"Our air quality is not acceptable and we're acting to fix it." But Tsang said the problem should be kept "in perspective" and wasn't as bad as it seemed.
He also debunked perceptions that Hong Kong's economy was losing out to cleaner places like Singapore, saying the city remained an attractive destination for foreign direct investment and companies.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE