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 1,030 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 2017;
  • 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 2014. 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, including the joint efforts to take forward the implementation of a Domestic Emission Control Area in the Pearl River Delta. In order to enhance the regional collaboration and further improve air quality, from 1 January 2019, vessels are required to use compliant fuel within Hong Kong waters, irrespective of whether they are sailing or berthing.


Cutting Emissions from Power Plants

Electricity generation remains one of the major sources of air pollution in Hong Kong in 2012.  It accounts for 47% of the SO2, 28% 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 have issued since 2008 four Technical Memoranda (TM) pursuant to the APCO to stipulate emission caps for power plants from 2010 onwards. The latest Fourth TM was issued in December 2014 to further tighten the power sector’s emission caps for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and respirable suspended particulates from 2019 onwards by 63%, 40% and 44% respectively as compared with those caps stipulated under the First TM for 2010.

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, The 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, the first gas-fired unit of HEC was synchronised in July 2006 and started its 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

In addition to reducing emissions from local sources, we have been joining hands with Guangdong 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.

In November 2012, the governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong endorsed an emission reduction plan for the PRD region up to 2020 which set the 2015 emission reduction targets and 2020 emission reduction ranges for four major air pollutants, namely sulphur dioxide(SO2), nitrogen oxides(NOX), respirable suspended particulates(RSP) and volatile organic compounds(VOC) , and subsequently rolled out various emission reduction measures. . The two sides will prepare for a mid-term review on the emission reduction results for 2015 and finalise the emission reduction targets for 2020 so as to further improve regional air quality.

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



2015 Emission Reduction Targets

(as compared with 2010)

2020 Emission Reduction 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%

From 2006 to 2013, the annual average levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and respirable suspended particulates as recorded by the PRD Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network recorded a decrease by 62%, 13% and 15% respectively. This indicates an improvement in regional air quality brought about by the emission reduction measures implemented by Guangdong and Hong Kong in recent years.

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 three governments commenced a Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Joint Regional PM2.5 Study with a view to providing a robust scientific basis for mapping out further air quality improvement strategies for the region.

In addition, we launched the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme (the Programme) in collaboration with the Economic and Information Commission of Guangdong in April 2008. It encourages and facilitates Hong Kong-owned factories in Guangdong to adopt cleaner production technologies and practices through funding support and technology promotion activities, thereby contributing to improving the regional air quality.   Both sides also jointly launched the Hong Kong – Guangdong Cleaner Production Partners Recognition Scheme in 2009 to recognize the efforts of enterprises in pursuing cleaner production.


More information on air quality improvement measures


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User review date: 
Wednesday, 12 December, 2018