Environment Hong Kong 2006 Chapter 1: IntroductionChapter 2: Cross-boundary and International Co-operationChapter 3: Community AwarenessChapter 4: Customer Service and PartnershipChapter 5: Environmental Assessment and Planning
Chapter 6: AirChapter 7: NoiseChapter 8: WasteChapter 9: WaterChapter 10: ConservationChapter 11: Environmental Compliance
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Chapter 10 Conservation
 

Mission:

To conserve natural resources and the bio-diversity of Hong Kong and promote efficient use of energy in a sustainable manner, taking into account social and economic considerations, for the benefit of the present and future generations of the community.
 
Highlights in 2005
  • Brought conservation policy-making under the remit of the Environmental Protection Department from 1 April 2005.
  • Worked with power companies on setting up production-scale wind turbines in Hong Kong to promote renewable energy.
  • Consulted the public and the trade on a mandatory energy efficiency-labelling scheme.
  • Established a clear policy for the adoption of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in public works projects.
  • Approved three Management Agreement Pilot Projects, in which green groups and landowners receive financial incentives to co-operate and protect ecologically sensitive sites.
  • Submitted a bill to the Legislative Council to revamp the existing ordinance on endangered species.

PROTECTING our NATURAL RESOURCES

Conservation policy is a new responsibility of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), handed over in April 2005 when the department merged with the Environment Branch of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau. Yet it has similarities with our other work. In recent years, the EPD has sought to form partnerships with the community and non-governmental organisations, with a view to better protecting our environment. The same approach also applies to the Government's nature and energy conservation initiatives. Businessmen, interested parties and the general public have all been asked to help conserve our natural resources.

Efforts in conservation supplement the EPD's other work. Energy conservation, for instance, can lessen air pollution, while nature conservation enhances our understanding of the ecological environment and is an important and integral part of environmental impact assessment work. In 2005, progress was made in both energy and nature conservation. Greater prominence was given to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and approval was given to the first three Management Agreement projects proposed under the Government's New Nature Conservation Policy.

Energy Conservation

Photovoltaic installations in Hong Kong.

Energy was an issue of significant global concern in 2005 in light of climate change fears and the high cost of oil. Hong Kong imports all its fuel. The Government recognises we must endeavour to reduce our consumption of non-renewable energy if we are to achieve greater sustainability. That means consuming less energy and identifying alternative sources.

In "A First Sustainable Development Strategy for Hong Kong" published in May 2005, the Government set out a strategy on the development of renewable energy. One of the key targets is to generate one to two per cent of Hong Kong's total electricity needs from renewable sources by 2012, subject to regular review to take account of technological advances and emerging sustainability considerations.

A wind turbine on Lamma Island

Achieving this target will require the co-operation of the two power companies. Both CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd (CLP) and The Hong Kong Electric Company Ltd (HEC) have taken a positive first step in this direction, agreeing to set up production-scale wind turbines. HEC has erected a wind turbine on Lamma Island that will start operating in 2006. CLP is exploring two sites for the construction of their wind turbine project, which is expected to be up and running in about 2007-08. Renewable energy is also being discussed in negotiations between the Government and the power companies over the post-2008 regulatory regime for Hong Kong's electricity market.

Consumers will also play an important role in helping Hong Kong to achieve energy savings. Since 1995, the Government has been operating a voluntary energy efficiency-labelling scheme for 17 types of household and office appliances and vehicles, so consumers can take energy performance into consideration when making purchases. The EPD now proposes to impose a mandatory labelling requirement for some products, to promote greater efficient use and conservation of energy. A scheme was proposed in 2005 that would require local manufacturers and importers to display energy efficiency labels on all air-conditioners, refrigerators and compact fluorescent lamps at point of purchase. A consultation document on the mandatory scheme received generally positive feedback from the trade, the public and the Advisory Council on the Environment. The EPD will next prepare a legislative proposal on the scheme, taking into account the views received.

One of the biggest consumers of electricity in Hong Kong is the Government and we are mindful of our responsibilities to conserve energy. The Government has established guidelines and procedures on the adoption of energy efficient features and renewable energy technologies in government projects. We now require government departments to adjust air-conditioners so that indoor temperature will be maintained at 25.5 degrees Celsius during summer months and we have urged the business community and the general public to adopt the same practice (see box).

An air-conditioner displays an energy efficiency label. Adjusting the air-conditioner thermostat in the office.

RAISING THE TEMPERATURE

The Government announced in October 2004 that it would adjust air-conditioners so that indoor temperatures will be maintained at 25.5 degrees Celsius in summer months, a policy that passed its first test in 2005. From April to September we reduced electricity consumption in office blocks by two per cent. The initiative was also promoted to the public (see Chapter 3 for details).

The decision to set temperatures at 25.5 degrees Celsius was based on overseas research suggesting most people would find this setting comfortable. However, some of our buildings are not able to provide sufficient ventilation when the temperature is raised. The EPD will continue to work closely with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department to identify ways of reducing electricity consumption, while being attentive to people's comfort.

       
  A poster promotes air-conditioning temperatures at 25.5 degrees Celsius.   Another poster promoting the 25.5 degrees Celsius initiative provides thermometer readings.    
           

Nature Conservation

The other new area under EPD's remit is nature conservation. We are building on the foundations laid by the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, which unveiled the New Nature Conservation Policy in November 2004. This policy seeks to prioritise and enhance the protection of important ecological sites, particularly those on private land. It also seeks to encourage green groups, landowners and developers to work together to manage sensitive areas.

About 40 per cent of Hong Kong's land is designated as country parks and special areas, but a number of valuable ecological sites are located outside that area, on private land. This has led to tensions between landholders' desire to develop their land and the need to protect these sites. The new policy proposes two pilot schemes that aim to create a win-win situation for both the landowner and the environment. Under the Pilot Scheme for Management Agreements (MA), non-governmental organisations can apply for government funding to provide landowners with financial incentives to co-operate in conserving sensitive sites. Under the Pilot Scheme for Public-Private Partnership (PPP), development will be allowed on a less ecologically-sensitive area of a site, but the applicant must commit to long-term conservation and management of the rest of that site. 12 priority sites for enhanced conservation have been identified, using a scientific scoring system agreed to by a respected group of experts.

Tai Po Kau is a designated special area.

Three MA projects were approved in 2005 and will receive a total $4.6 million in funding from the Environment and Conservation Fund. Two of these projects are in Long Valley. The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society will work with farmers to increase biodiversity in bird habitats there, while the Conservancy Association will work with farmers to enhance diversity on abandoned agricultural lands. The third project is in Fung Yuen where the Tai Po Environmental Association will work with landowners and operators to observe good practices for butterfly conservation. It is hoped these partnerships will demonstrate the viability of sharing responsibility for protecting the environment and help reduce the tension between conservation and development. The Government has also received six applications for the PPP Pilot Scheme that are currently under consideration.

Given Hong Kong's limited space, it is essential that green groups, landowners and developers work together with the Government to identify innovative solutions for protecting sensitive environments. The same may be said of energy conservation. Power companies and the public need to accept their role in promoting renewable energy and reducing wasteful consumption. The EPD will carry the Government's conservation policies forward with a message that is common to its other policy areas, that protecting the environment is a collective responsibility.


Long Valley is set to increase biodiversity in bird habitats under MA funding. Fung Yuen is a unique ground for butterfly conservation.

ENDANGERED SPECIES

Hong Kong has implemented the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1976. The Convention divides species into three categories, or Appendices, according to the degree of threat posed by international trade. The most endangered are Appendix I species. Hong Kong is now in the process of revamping our legislation to bring it in full compliance with CITES in respect of the control of medicines made from endangered species, and to streamline the existing licensing mechanism. A new bill was tabled in the Legislative Council in mid-2005 and is being vetted by the Legislative Council's Bills Committee.


Medicine made from endangered species.
   

LOOKING AHEAD

  • Announce the results of applications received under the Pilot Scheme for Public-Private Partnership to promote nature conservation.

  • Prepare a legislative proposal on mandatory energy efficiency labelling.

  • Implement revamped legislation on the protection of endangered species.




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