Environment Bureau Environmental Protection Department ENVIRONMENT HONG KONG 2009 Small Medium Large 繁體 简体
Feature ArticleSummary of HighlightsLooking Ahead
Milestones Organisation charts Resource Materials
 
SIGNS OF PROGRESS
Feature Article
Cleaner air, greener energy
Greenhouse gas reductions
Reducing waste
Treating sewage
Natural resources
A job for everyone
Summary of Highlights
Looking Ahead
Signs of Progress

HONG Kong's environment in 2008 could be summed up by two heartening words: steady progress. Air quality improved, continuing on a path that began a few years ago; domestic waste loads fell; greener sources of energy were secured; and water pollution was held in check. All of these were evidence that Hong Kong can make advances towards a more sustainable environment.

The groundwork for these achievements was laid several years ago. It can take time to see results, especially when infrastructure has to be built. That makes it all the more imperative for us to continue pressing ahead with new programmes to secure a healthier environment.

A grand view of Hong Kong's urban development.
A grand view of Hong Kong's urban development.
Cleaner air, greener energy
The wisdom of long-term planning can be seen in the example of air quality. Over a period of about 10 years, we launched a series of programmes to control roadside emissions by phasing out old, polluting vehicles in favour of cleaner ones, introducing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) taxis and public light buses, making low-sulphur fuels mandatory and imposing stringent vehicle emission inspections. Since 1999, levels of three key pollutants measured at roadsides have fallen between 19 per cent and 23 per cent.

LPG vehicles have helped to improve the roadside air quality.
LPG vehicles have helped to improve the roadside air quality.

Ambient air quality has also improved and we are well on our way to achieving our target of reducing levels of various pollutants to well below 1997 levels, by 2010. The consensus on emission reduction targets was reached in 2002 with Guangdong and a joint regional air quality management plan was drawn up in 2003. In 2008 we reported the findings of a review of our efforts. Hong Kong should be able to achieve the emission reduction targets after further reducing power plant emissions. We have recently laid the ground for achieving this.

New Scheme of Control Agreements were signed with the power companies in 2008 which include incentives and penalties if they achieve below or above certain emission levels. Legislation was also introduced to stipulate emission caps from 2010 by technical memorandum. Moreover, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Energy Administration to provide long-term and stable supplies of clean fuels for Hong Kong, which will help reduce pollution in future.

The broader picture of regional air quality is also being addressed under the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme, which was launched in 2008 to encourage Hong Kong-owned factories in the Pearl River Delta region to adopt cleaner production technologies and practices.

Mr Donald TSANG, the Chief Executive (left), and Mr ZHANG Guobao, the Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and Administrator of the National Energy Administration (right), sign the MoU on the supply of natural gas and electricity.
Mr Donald TSANG, the Chief Executive (left), and Mr ZHANG Guobao, the Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and Administrator of the National Energy Administration (right), sign the MoU on the supply of natural gas and electricity.
Greenhouse gas reductions
Hong Kong's Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990-2007

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Air quality and energy use are also global environmental issues. Hong Kong reduced its per-capita greenhouse gas emissions by 3 per cent between 1990 and 2007, but we want to do better. An 18-month study on climate change was launched in 2008.

We also announced arrangements for the implementation of Clean Development Mechanism projects in Hong Kong with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to sustainable development, and launched the first set of guidelines for conducting carbon audits of buildings in Hong Kong and the "Green Hong Kong ‧Carbon Audit" campaign to promote carbon auditing and carbon reduction in different sectors of the community.

In addition, we consulted the public on proposed mandatory implementation of the Building Energy Codes to improve the energy performance of buildings, which account for almost 90 per cent of our electricity consumption.

Mr Edward YAU, the Secretary for the Environment (sixth from right, back row), Ms Anissa WONG, the Permanent Secretary for the Environment (seventh from right, back row) and representatives of participating organisations and businesses officiate at the launch of the "Green Hong Kong • Carbon Audit" campaign.

Mr Edward YAU, the Secretary for the Environment (sixth from right, back row), Ms Anissa WONG, the Permanent Secretary for the Environment (seventh from right, back row) and representatives of participating organisations and businesses officiate at the launch of the "Green Hong Kong • Carbon Audit" campaign.
Reducing waste
Buildings are also a focus in another of our goals: reducing waste. Our landfills are reaching capacity so we are encouraging re-use and recycling of waste through the Programme on Source Separation of Waste, which brings waste separation facilities closer to residents and businesses. By the end of 2008, the programme was operating in 996 housing estates, which house more than half of Hong Kong's population, and 437 commercial and industrial buildings. Legislation was also amended to require new domestic buildings and the domestic part of new composite buildings to provide a refuse storage and material recovery room on every floor.

Mr Edward YAU, the Secretary for the Environment (left),and other officiating guests at the  Launching Ceremony of  the Glass Container Recycling Programme for the Hotel Sector.

Mr Edward YAU, the Secretary for the Environment (left), and other officiating guests at the Launching Ceremony of the Glass Container Recycling Programme for the Hotel Sector.
Recovery and recycling programmes were also given extra teeth with the passage of the Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance, which provides a legal basis for introducing producer responsibility schemes. The first such scheme, a 50-cent levy on each plastic shopping bag, will be introduced in 2009.

Our efforts in waste reduction are paying off. Domestic waste loads have fallen by more than 10 per cent since 2005, and by more than 4 per cent in 2008 alone. Much of this was due to large improvements in domestic waste recovery, which reached 31 per cent of domestic waste in 2008 against 16 per cent in 2005. However, these improvements are being offset by increases in commercial and industrial waste. We will continue to address the waste problem on various fronts.

Even with the recovery and recycling programmes, we are still left with a large amount of waste to dispose of. To reduce the bulk of waste, and thus save landfill space, we plan to develop integrated waste management facilities with advanced incineration. Two possible sites were identified in 2008 and are undergoing detailed engineering and environmental investigation. We have also opened an animal waste composting plant, initially to treat horse waste from the Equestrian Events of the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are also working towards the development of treatment facilities for organic waste and sewage sludge.

Waste treatment does not eliminate waste, though. We still need to dispose of unavoidable waste. Unfortunately, our three strategic landfills are running out of space far earlier than expected and will reach capacity one by one in the early to mid 2010s. Our immediate target is to extend the landfills. Engineering, environmental and project feasibility studies are underway. We are striving to have the extensions in place before the landfills are full.
Treating sewage
Another notable achievement in 2008 was the continued progress on the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS). The first stage of HATS was completed in 2001 and resulted in proper treatment for 75 per cent of the sewage generated in the Victoria Harbour catchment, thereby leading to significant improvement in the harbour's water quality. Stage 2 is being built in two phases. Work has continued on designing Stage 2A, which has a 2014 target date, and on building the Advance Disinfection Facilities, which will be ready for use in late 2009 to disinfect the treated effluent from Stage 1. A study on the co-use of land for Stage 2B was also commissioned in 2008.

The Advance Disinfection Facilities will upgrade the sewage treatment capability of the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works.
The Advance Disinfection Facilities will upgrade the sewage treatment capability of the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works.
Natural resources
The Northeast New Territories (including Double Haven, pictured) has been identified as one of two  suitable sites for establishing the proposed Geopark.

The Northeast New Territories (including Double Haven, pictured) has been identified as one of two suitable sites for establishing the proposed Geopark.
Another area of our work is nature conservation. In 2008 we proposed that a geopark be set up to protect and promote Hong Kong's geological resources. Our aim is to acquire national geopark status under the Ministry of Land and Resources by the end of 2009. This would further our conservation efforts under the legal framework of the Country Parks Ordinance and Marine Parks Ordinance. In 2008 we also designated the 24th country park, the Lantau North (Extension) Country Park.
A job for everyone
Over much of the past decade, everybody in Hong Kong has been asked to engage in improving our environment. For the general public, this has meant changing behaviour. People have been urged to separate their waste for recycling and to share their views during public consultations on specific policies, which in 2008 covered such issues as Air Quality Objectives, sludge treatment facility, the Geopark and the Building Energy Codes.

For its part, the Government has introduced scientifically-backed initiatives and provided strong promotional support and enthusiasm. The effort to create a healthy, sustainable environment is far from done but there are signs of hope that the efforts we make today will benefit us, and our children, in future.

Children join in an environmental community awareness activity.
Children join in an environmental community awareness activity.
 
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