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Candidates Want Tough Controls Over Power Plant Emissions

Cheung Chi-fai – Updated on Aug 28, 2008 – SCMP

A large majority of the would-be legislators who responded to a Greenpeace survey said they would seek tougher controls on power plant emissions of greenhouse gases if elected.

The poll, conducted by the environmental group this month, also showed that all candidates described the government’s performance in addressing climate change as no more than fair.

Seventy-one of the 111 candidates and slates of candidates responded to a questionnaire distributed by the group. Of these, 42 were from geographical constituencies and 29 from functional constituencies. Most candidates for the geographical constituencies were grouped into lists.

Nearly all of the respondents said they were concerned about the effect of climate change in Hong Kong, in particular in the areas of public health, ecology and weather.

However, Kwok Ka-ki, incumbent lawmaker for the medical constituency, and the candidates on the Kowloon West list led by Lau Yuk-shing said it was not urgent that the government address climate change.

Fifty-nine of the 71 respondents pointed out that the biggest source of greenhouse gases was the electricity-generating sector, and the same number demanded that the government regulate power plants’ carbon emissions. They said they saw the task as a top priority.

Last month, legislators failed to press environment officials to include carbon dioxide as one of the statutory regulated air pollutants in an amended law to tighten control of emissions affecting air quality.

Half the respondents pledged to seek legally binding targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Prentice Koo Wai-muk, a Greenpeace campaigner, said the poll results showed there was a strong consensus among the candidates on climate-change issues regardless of what type of constituency they were contesting.

He said it was the responsibility of the voters to understand what their choice of candidate meant in terms of addressing climate change.

“Different candidates might have different areas of priority concerns. So we will not sanction any candidates,” he said.

Choy So-yuk, incumbent Hong Kong Island candidate for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said her party had decided not to answer Greenpeace’s poll because members had replied to another green group’s call for pledges on environmental protection, including climate change. She said the DAB supported regulating power plants’ carbon emissions.

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