Air Pollution Control Strategies

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 Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) in 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.

Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong

The Government released the first “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong” in March 2013 which sets out in detail the various measures to tackle air pollution from power plants, land and sea transport, and non-road mobile machinery and to strengthen collaboration with Guangdong to deal with regional pollution. "Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong (2013-2017 Progress Report)" was published in June 2017 which gave an account on its implementation and achievements. The Government announced the “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2035” in June 2021 setting out the long-term goals and strategies to further enhance the air quality with a view to leading Hong Kong to become a liveable city with air quality on par with major international cities by 2035.

Tackling Roadside Air Pollution

The Government has adopted an integrated vehicle emission control strategy, which has the following 6 major elements, to tackle roadside air pollution issues:

  • Adopt tighter fuel and vehicle emission standards;
  • Adopt cleaner alternatives to diesel vehicles where practicable;
  • Control emissions from the remaining diesels with devices that reduce pollutants;
  • Strengthen vehicle emission inspections and enforcement against grossly emitting vehicles;
  • Promote better vehicle maintenance and eco-driving habits; and
  • Promote electric vehicle (EV) adoption.


In promoting the use of EVs, the Government announced the first Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles in March 2021, setting out the long-term policy objectives and plans to promote the adoption of EVs and their associated supporting facilities in Hong Kong.

For details of the vehicle emission control measures, please see Cleaning the Air at Street Level.

Reducing Marine Emissions

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 (sulphur content not exceeding 0.001%). The sulphur content of locally supplied marine light diesel has been capped at 0.05% since 1 April 2014. Ocean-going vessels are required to switch to fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5% while at berth in Hong Kong waters since 1 July 2015. The Air Pollution Control (Fuel for Vessels) Regulation (Cap 311AB) came into effect on 1 January 2019 requiring all vessels, irrespective of whether they are sailing or berthing, to use compliant fuel (including fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5% or liquefied natural gas) within Hong Kong waters to dovetail with the implementation of a Domestic Emission Control Area in Mainland’s coastal waters.

Cutting Emissions from Power Plants

Electricity generation is a major source of air pollution in Hong Kong. In 2019, emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and respirable suspended particulates (PM10) from power plants accounted for 63%, 30% and 16% respectively of the total territory-wide emissions. The emissions of power plants would also affect the air quality in the PRD region. Reducing their emissions could help reduce the regional levels of SO2, particulates, etc. To reduce emissions from electricity generation, the Government has banned the construction of new coal-fired generating unit by the two power companies (i.e. CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP) and the Hongkong Electric Company, Limited (HEC)) since 1997. The Government amended the Air Pollution Control Ordinance (APCO) in 2008 to ensure a smooth, timely and transparent allocation of emission caps for power plants by means of issuing a Technical Memorandum (TM). We have issued since 2008 nine TMs to stipulate emission caps for power plants from 2010 onwards. The latest ninth TM was issued in 2021 to further tighten the power sector’s emission caps for SO2, NOX and PM10 by around 70-90% from 2026 onwards as compared with the emission caps set under the first TM for 2010.

In order to meet the stringent emission caps, the two power companies have implemented a number of the emission reduction measures including:

  1. installing flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) and denitrification systems for coal-fired units;
  2. increasing the use of low-emission coal and natural gas for electricity generation;
  3. constructing new gas-fired units to replace some old coal-fired units;
  4. increasing electricity intake from the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station; and
  5. upgrading existing gas-fired units for improving their NOx emission performance as well as thermal efficiency.

Revamping the fuel mix for electricity generation is most effective to further reduce emissions from power plants. The Government has pledged to increase local gas generation to around 50% of the total fuel mix for electricity generation by 2020 (“Fuel Mix Target”) as an environmental target for 2020. With the operation of two new gas-fired units, each for HEC and CLP, in 2023, the proportion of gas generation will be further increased to around 57%. As outlined in the Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050, the Government would cease using coal for daily electricity generation by 2035 and increasing the use of low (e.g. natural gas) to zero-carbon energy (e.g. renewable energy (RE)) to help reduce air pollutant and carbon emissions from power plants.

On the other hand, the Government also reduces the emissions from power plants via promoting energy saving. In May 2015, the Government unveiled the Energy Saving Plan for the built Environment 2015-2025+, which sets a new target of reducing Hong Kong’s energy intensity by 40% by 2025. The Government also entered into a new Scheme of Control Agreements (SCAs) with the two power companies in 2018. Under the new SCAs, incentive and penalty schemes will be revamped to better encourage the power companies' performance in supply reliability, operational efficiency, customer services, promotion of energy efficiency and conservation (EE&C), as well as the development of RE.

On the development of RE, the Government is also making great efforts to developing waste-to-energy (WTE) plants and will install solar generation systems of a larger scale at suitable reservoir and landfill locations. On the promotion of WTE, the Government has pushed forward a number of state-of-the-art WTE projects, such as T·PARK, Integrated Waste Management Facility, O·PARK and WENT Landfill Gas Generation. The Government has also introduced the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) to encourage the private sector and the community to consider investing in distributed RE.

Please visit the Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050 for further information of the above-mentioned measures.

Cooperation with the Mainland

In addition to reducing emissions from local sources, we have been joining hands with Guangdong to improve air quality of the 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.

In September 2014, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao jointly signed the “Cooperation Agreement on Regional Air Pollution Control and Prevention among Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao” with a view to fostering regional co-operation on air pollution control and prevention. The three sides also enhanced the regional air monitoring network in 2014. The number of monitoring stations has been increased to 23 with the inclusion of a station in Macao, and with real-time air quality information of the three places released. The network was also renamed as “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao PRD Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network”. In addition, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Joint Regional PM2.5 Study was completed at the end of 2018, providing a robust scientific basis for mapping out further air quality improvement strategies for the region.

In December 2017, the governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong jointly released the results of the mid-term review on air pollutant emission reduction targets in the PRD region, confirming that both sides had achieved their respective 2015 emission reduction targets for four major air pollutants (namely SO2, NOX, PM10 and volatile organic compounds (VOC)), and finalised the reduction targets for 2020. The details are as follows:


Region Note1

2015 Emission Reduction Target Note2

2020 Emission Reduction Target Note2


Hong Kong (HK)



PRD Economic Zone







PRD Economic Zone







PRD Economic Zone







PRD Economic Zone



Note 1: The PRD Economic Zone includes Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Foshan, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing.
Note 2: Reductions are relative to 2010 emission levels.

In 2018, the two governments launched a study on post-2020 regional air pollutant emission reduction targets and concentration levels for Hong Kong and Guangdong, with a view to formulating emission reduction targets beyond 2020.

From 2006 to 2020, the annual average levels of SO2, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10 as recorded by the PRD Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network recorded a decrease by 86%, 43% and 49% respectively. This indicates an improvement in regional air quality brought about by the emission reduction measures implemented by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in recent years. However, the annual average of ozone (O3) increased by 27% during the same period, reflecting the photochemical smog problem in the region has not yet been resolved. The three governments will continue to implement emission reduction measures to further improve the air quality in the region and tackle the photochemical pollution problem.

In addition, we launched the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme (the Programme) in collaboration with the then Economic and Information Commission of Guangdong Province (now the Department of Industry and Information Technology of Guangdong Province) in April 2008. The Programme aims to encourage and facilitate the adoption of cleaner production technologies and practices by Hong Kong-owned factories through funding support and technology promotion activities, thereby improving the regional environment. Both sides also jointly launched the Hong Kong – Guangdong Cleaner Production Partners Recognition Scheme in 2009 to recognise the efforts of enterprises in pursuing cleaner production.


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