20 February 2019
Canton Tower in Guangzhou (inset) where air quality readings worsened in January 
CY Leung (background) visited Bay Area in April
Photo: GIS, Weibo
Canton Tower in Guangzhou (inset) where air quality readings worsened in January CY Leung (background) visited Bay Area in April Photo: GIS, Weibo

Leung under fire over Guangdong pollution comment

It is wrong to blame Hong Kong for causing smog in nearby Guangdong province when the wind comes from the south and blows toward the north, according to a former director of the Hong Kong Observatory.

Dr. Lee Boon-ying said in a blog post on Monday that the southerly winds can only take polluted air from Hong Kong to the southern Chinese province when the airflow is stable, but it is often not the case, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Lee was reacting to a comment by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying that Hong Kong is a source of air pollution in Guangdong.

In a radio interview on April 22, a day after Leung and his delegation returned to Hong Kong from a three-day trip to six Guangdong cities as part of preparations for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area development plan, Leung said it is unavoidable for Guangdong to blame Hong Kong for smog during southerly days and the governments of both sides agree to join hands to tackle the problem.

Lee criticized Leung for saying things that are not supported by scientific facts.

The days when Hong Kong sees southerly winds are normally warm or hot with unstable airflow, and the result is pollutants in the air tend to move upwards and disperse instead of going north to Guangdong.

Plus the fact that Hong Kong creates much less air pollution than the mainland, Lee said he does not think it’s right to ask Hong Kong to take responsibility for smog in Guangdong.

Leung’s comments suggested the government not only disregards science but also lacks common sense in science, Lee said, adding that it has been shortsighted when it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

Alex Lau, a professor and atmosphere scientist in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was quoted by Apple Daily as saying that Leung’s comments may be theoretically right but there is only a slight chance these are the reality.

It is fairer to say Guangdong and Hong Kong bring smog to each other, Lau said.

Inquiries by Ming Pao Daily about whether there is any scientific basis for Leung’s comments received no response from the Chief Executive’s Office.

Lawmaker Edward Yiu from the architecture functional constituency and Tanya Chan, who chairs the environmental affairs panel of the Legislative Council, criticized Leung for making a false claim.

They questioned if Leung was just trying to please the Guangdong government by blaming Hong Kong for pollution.

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