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Protecting Hong Kong by Paying People

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Following is the translation of the opening remarks by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, at the press conference today (January 18) on policy initiatives of the Environment Bureau in the 2013 Policy Address:

In the Chief Executive's 2013 Policy Address, there are four major policy initiatives on environmental protection. They are air quality, resources sustainability, green building and nature conservation.

First, on air quality, our major concern is to protect public health. We will focus on improving roadside air quality and reducing marine emissions.

To protect public health, we need to adopt new measures to phase out heavily polluting diesel commercial vehicles, i.e. a carrot-and-stick approach. A total of $10 billion has been earmarked as ex-gratia payment to vehicle owners.

The second major initiative is on resources sustainability.

Hong Kong is facing an imminent waste problem. In Hong Kong, the amount of solid waste per capita per day is higher than that of other advanced cities in the region. Our existing landfills will be full in the next few years.

We are committed to solving this problem and everyone should share the responsibility. We are preparing a comprehensive waste management blueprint which will be published in the first quarter of this year. Waste reduction at source is the main focus of the blueprint so that more resources can be reused, recycled and recovered.

At the same time, we have engaged the Council for Sustainable Development to consult the public on details of the municipal solid waste charging scheme. We hope to put in place the charging scheme through public engagement.

Third, we strive to promote low-carbon living. I will chair an inter-departmental steering committee to map out strategies on energy saving and green building to promote energy saving as well as other environmental benefits in a more comprehensive way.

Fourth, on nature conservation, there are concerns on how to strike a balance between development and conservation.

We will map out a biodiversity strategy and action plan for implementation in 2015.

To enhance public awareness of environmental protection, we need to collaborate with members of the public. We hope that public awareness of environmental protection will be further enhanced, and the Government will therefore inject $5 billion into the Environment and Conservation Fund for this purpose. "Community green stations", a new concept in the community to promote green living, will also be set up in phases in five different regions starting in late 2013.

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