Air Pollution Control Strategies

Air Pollution Control Strategies

A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 
Tackling roadside air pollution
Reducing marine emissions
Cutting emissions from power plants
Cooperation with the Mainland



This section sets out the strategies of the Hong Kong SAR Government (HKSARG) for tackling air pollution problems.
Hong Kong has been facing two air pollution issues.  One is local street-level pollution.  The other is the regional smog problem.  Diesel vehicles are the main source of street-level pollution.  Smog, however, is caused by a combination of pollutants from motor vehicles, marine vessels, industry and power plants both in Hong Kong and in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region.

A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong

The Environment Bureau (ENB) released “A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong” in March 2013 to outline comprehensively the challenges Hong Kong is facing with regard to air quality and to give an overview of the relevant air quality improvement policies and measures.  We have been implementing a wide range of measures covering land and sea transport, power plants and non-road mobile machinery to reduce air pollution.  Besides, we have been strengthening collaboration between Guangdong and Hong Kong to deal with regional air pollution.

Tackling Roadside Air Pollution

To tackle emissions from motor vehicles, the Government has been implementing a comprehensive motor vehicle emission control programme.  Our latest key measures include:

  • phasing out some 82 000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles progressively by end 2019 involving an ex-gratia payment of about $11.4 billion and setting from February 2014 a maximum service life of 15 years for newly registered diesel commercial vehicles;
  • subsidizing the replacement of catalytic converters and oxygen sensors of LPG taxis and light buses once.  After that, we will strengthen emission control on petrol and liquefied petroleum gas vehicles by using roadside remote sensing equipment and dynamometers for emission testing;
  • subsidizing the franchised bus companies to retrofit some 1,400 (subject to a more detailed assessment) Euro II and Euro III franchised buses with selective catalytic reduction devices to upgrade their emission performance to Euro IV or above level by the end of 2016;
  • subsidizing the franchised bus companies to procure six hybrid buses and 36 electric buses for trial; and
  • subsidizing under the $300 million Pilot Green Transport Fund the testing of green and innovative transport technologies applicable to the public transport sector and goods vehicles.

Reducing Marine Emission

To control emissions from marine vessels, Hong Kong has adopted MARPOL Annex VI requirements and regulated excessive vessel smoke emissions.  The Government has also been leading by example by powering Government vessels with Euro V diesel.  The sulphur content of locally supplied marine light diesel is capped at 0.05% starting from 1 April 2015. Ocean going vessels are required to switch to compliant fuel (i.e. fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5%, liquefied petroleum gas and any other fuel approved by the Director of Environmental Protection) from 1 July 2015. The Government has been collaborating with the governments in Pearl River Delta to reduce vessel emissions in the region.


Cutting Emissions from Power Plants

Electricity generation remains one of the major sources of air pollution in Hong Kong in 2011.  It accounts for 44% of the SO2, 26% of the NOX and 16% of the RSP emissions.  The emissions of power plants would affect the air quality in the Pearl River Delta region.  Reducing their emissions could help reduce the regional levels of SO2, particulates, etc.  Therefore, to help improve our air quality, the power companies must further reduce their emissions.

We amended the Air Pollution Control Ordinance (APCO) in 2008 to ensure a smooth, timely and transparent implementation of the emission caps for the power plants by stipulating the emission caps under the Ordinance and allowing power plants to use emissions trading as an alternative means for achieving the emission caps for 2010 and beyond.  We issued in 2008, 2010 and 2012 respectively three Technical Memoranda (TM) pursuant to the APCO to stipulate emission caps for power plants. The first TM specified the emission caps for 2010-2014, the second TM tightened the emission caps for 2015-2016, and the third TM tightened the emission caps further with effect from 1 January 2017.

The progress of emission reduction from the power sector is as follows –

  1. on retrofitting existing coal-fired power generation units with emissions reduction devices, Hongkong Electric Company Limited (HEC) completed retrofitting flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) system to two 350 MW coal-fired units (units L4 and L5) and one 250 MW coal-fired unit (unit L2) in Lamma Power Station between 2009 and 2010. CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP) completed retrofitting FGDs and low NOX control systems to four 677 MW coal-fired units (units B1 to B4) in Castle Peak Power Station between 2009 and 2011;
  2. on the wider use of natural gas, HEC commissioned its first gas-fired unit by end June 2006 and put it into commercial operation in October 2006. Starting from 2010, HEC also operated another gas-fired unit (modified from two existing oil-fired gas turbines) as a baseload unit to reduce its emissions. In August 2008, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Co-operation with the National Energy Administration to enable an increase in the use of natural gas for power generation, under which CLP started to use the new gas from the Second West-East Natural Gas Pipeline in 2013; and
  3. on promoting renewable energy, HEC commissioned the first local commercial scale wind power station on Lamma Island in February 2006 and installed photovoltaic solar system at its Lamma Power Station between 2010 and 2013. Both power companies are studying the development of offshore wind-farms in the Hong Kong waters. Besides, the new Scheme of Control Agreements have provided for a higher rate of return of 11% for their investment in renewable energy facilities; a bonus in the range of 0.01% to 0.05% in permitted return depending on the extent of renewable energy usage in their electricity generation; grid connection arrangement will be standardised for back up power supply for customers with embedded renewable generation.

Cooperation with the Mainland

Air pollution respects no boundary. In addition to reducing emissions from local sources, we have been joining hands with Guangdong Province to improve air quality of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region.  In December 2003, the two governments drew up the PRD Regional Air Quality Management Plan (the "Management Plan") under which both sides have been pursuing emission reduction measures targeting power plants, motor vehicles and heavily polluting industrial processes. The Special Panel on PRD Air Quality Management and Monitoring was set up under the Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection (JWGSDEP) to follow up on the tasks under the Management Plan.

Key emission reduction measures implemented/being implemented by Guangdong include:

  • installing desulphurization and denitrification systems at large-scale coal-fired power generating units;
  • closing down small-scale power generating units;
  • phasing out heavily polluting cement plants as well as iron and steel plants;
  • installing vapour recovery systems at petrol filling stations, oil depots and on tanker trucks;
  • applying leak detection and repair technology to reduce VOC emission in the petrochemical sector;
  • phasing out heavily polluting boilers and commercial “yellow-label” vehicles
  • implementing new pollutant emission standards for boilers as well as specific industries such as cement, furniture manufacturing, printing, shoe-making and surface coating (automobile manufacturing) industries;
  • installing denitrification systems at new dry-type cement kilns;
  • designating restriction zones for combustion of high polluting fuels and “yellow-label” vehicles
  • tightening the emission standards for newly registered vehicles to National IV standard; and
  • fully supplying petrol at Guangdong IV standards and diesel at National IV standards for vehicle use.

In November 2012, the two governments endorsed an emission reduction plan for the PRD region up to 2020 which includes emission reduction targets for four major air pollutants, namely sulphur dioxide(SO2), nitrogen oxides(NOX), respirable suspended particulates(RSP) and volatile organic compounds(VOC), for 2015 and 2020. Additional emission reduction measures are being implemented on this basis with a view to bringing continuous improvement to the regional air quality.

2015 & 2020 Emission Reduction Targets/Ranges for the PRD Region



2015 Emission Reduction Targets

(as compared with 2010)

2020 Emission Reduction Targeted Ranges

(as compared with 2010)


Hong Kong


-35% to -75%

PRD Economic Zone


-20% to -35%


Hong Kong


-20% to -30%

PRD Economic Zone


-20% to -40%


Hong Kong


-15% to -40%

PRD Economic Zone


-15% to -25%


Hong Kong



PRD Economic Zone


-15% to -25%

Under the Management Plan, Hong Kong and Guangdong jointly set up the PRD Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network (the Network) in November 2005. Air monitoring results of the Network reflect that efforts of the two sides in implementing various emission reduction measures have borne fruit. The average annual concentrations of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and respirable suspended particulates in the region decreased by 62 per cent, 13 per cent and 15 per cent over the period from 2006 to 2013, and the annual proportion of days on which Regional Air Quality Index (RAQI) met Class 2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (applicable to general residential areas) increased from 68 per cent to 82 per cent.

In addition, we have also joined hands with the Economic and Information Commission of Guangdong Province to implement the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme since April 2008. The Programme aims to encourage and facilitate Hong Kong-owned factories in the PRD region to adopt cleaner production technologies and practices, so as to contribute to improve the environmental quality of the region. Both sides also jointly launched the Hong Kong-Guangdong Cleaner Production Partners Recognition Scheme in 2009 to recognize the achievements of Hong Kong business in cleaner production and to encourage them to sustain their efforts in pursuing cleaner production.


More information on air quality improvement measures


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User review date: 
Thursday, 24 July, 2014