Environment Bureau Environmental Protection Department ENVIRONMENT HONG KONG 2008
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2 Cross-boundary and International Co-operation

 
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Mission

 

To protect the environment and human health by tackling cross boundary pollution problems and by promoting collaborative efforts through regional and international co-operation.


FOR THE GOOD OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD AND THE PLANET

Highlights in 2007
  • A mid-term review of the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan was completed with the goal of ensuring pollution reduction targets can be met.
  • An implementation framework for an emissions trading pilot scheme for thermal power plants was announced and a Pearl River Delta Emissions Trading Management Panel was established.
  • More than $93 million was earmarked by the Chief Executive for a five-year Cleaner Production Partnership Programme to promote cleaner production among Hong Kong-owned factories in the Pearl River Delta region.
  • An Agreement on Cooperation to Promote Energy Efficiency, Cleaner Production and Comprehensive Utilisation of Resources to Enterprises in Hong Kong and Guangdong was signed between the Environment Bureau and the Economic & Trade Commission of Guangdong Province.
  • An Agreement on Enhancing Co-operation on Environmental Protection was signed between the Environmental Protection Department and the Shenzhen Environmental Protection Bureau.
  • The Pearl River Delta Water Quality Model, developed jointly by Hong Kong and Guangdong, was completed.
  • The first review of the Deep Bay (Shenzhen Bay) Water Pollution Control Joint Implementation Programme was completed and new targets for water quality and pollution reduction agreed between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
  • The Hazardous Chemicals Control Ordinance was passed by the Legislative Council.

Environmental issues increasingly require regional and global responses. While it is still necessary to act locally to curb pollution and improve the environment, these actions can have greater impact when they are co-ordinated with others. The Hong Kong Government works closely with our counterparts in the region, particularly Guangdong, to address regional pollution. Air pollution is a prominent concern and we are jointly making advances each year in reducing emissions. Internationally, the Government adheres to numerous international agreements to protect the environment. We also share international disquiet over climate change and in 2007 we adopted measures to further reduce our output of greenhouse gases.

Deep Bay water quality model grid.

Deep Bay water quality model grid.

Regional air pollution

Regional air pollution is our most visible pollution problem. Emissions from across the Pearl River Delta (PRD) mix together and create smog, a situation that has been aggravated by the increasing demand for energy from a booming economy. The Hong Kong and Guangdong governments are addressing air pollution, as well as other shared environmental issues, through the Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection.

 

The Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection holds its 8th meeting in Guangzhou.

The Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection holds its 8th meeting in Guangzhou.

In 2002, the two administrations agreed to targets for reducing emissions to below 1997 levels by 2010 and laid out the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan (the Management Plan) for achieving those targets. The  Management Plan underwent a mid-term review in 2007 in light of continuing rapid economic growth in the region. The review showed that Hong Kong, with the current and committed control measures, should  be able to achieve its emission targets (see Air and Energy for descriptions of our initiatives).  As for Guangdong, it will need to implement additional measures due to higher than expected growth in its economy, population, electricity consumption and vehicle mileage.

Mr Edward YAU, Secretary for the Environment, meets Mr LIN Mu Sheng, Vice Governor of the Guangdong Province, to strengthen regional environmental cooperation.

Mr Edward YAU, Secretary for the Environment, meets Mr LIN Mu Sheng, Vice Governor of the Guangdong Province, to strengthen regional environmental cooperation.
Guangdong's efforts to date have concentrated on retrofitting large coal-fired power plants with flue-gas desulphurisation systems and introducing cleaner fuel at power plants, such as natural gas. The retrofitting work should be completed in 2008, while four new, large gas-fired power plants were commissioned in 2007. The mid-term review recommended the province to introduce additional measures, such as nitrogen oxide removal at all new power plants, tighter emission control standards for local boilers and limits on the volatile organic compound content in products. Once these are in place, Guangdong should achieve its targets and, together with Hong Kong, bring pollution down to healthier levels.

Hong Kong and Guangdong also have joint projects to reduce pollution. In 2007 they announced the Emissions Trading Pilot Scheme for Thermal Power Plants in the Pearl River Delta Region. This would provide power plants with a flexible and cost-effective option for achieving emission reduction targets. A panel whose members include both Hong Kong and Guangdong environment officials is overseeing the voluntary scheme, including the transfer and announcement of emission credits, proposed operational rules of emission trading, staff training and other measures.


Cleaner production across the boundary

Governments can provide level playing fields and take enforcement action against air pollution, but solid long-term progress will also require businesses to be on board. There are tens of thousands of factories in Guangdong, many of them owned by Hong Kong people. They can make a difference to air quality if they adopt cleaner production practices to prevent pollution in the first place.

The Hong Kong and Guangdong governments are co-operating to promote cleaner production in the Pearl River Delta region. In August 2007, an Agreement on Co-operation to Promote Energy Efficiency, Cleaner Production and Comprehensive Utilisation of Resources to Enterprises in Hong Kong and Guangdong was signed.

A key achievement has been the Cleaner Production Technical Support Pilot Project, which was launched in 2006 by Environmental Protection Department (EPD) with the full support of major industry associations in Hong Kong and a special panel set up by Hong Kong and Guangdong on energy efficiency and cleaner production. The project commissioned the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) to carry out preliminary assessments of 15 participating factories. Four factories were selected to implement measures to verify the effectiveness of cleaner production. The work was completed in 2007 and confirmed that cleaner production is not only practicable and effective, but in many cases saves money for factories (see Examples of Cleaner Production for details).

A factory under the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme receives on-site assessment.

A factory under the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme receives on-site assessment.

Following on from the pilot project, the HKPC produced a series of industry-specific guidebooks on cleaner production and set up a dedicated web site. A major joint conference on cleaner production was also organised with Guangdong and the major industry associations to share experiences.

The encouraging results of the pilot project were recognised with an announcement in the Chief Executive's 2007-08 Policy Address that $93.06 million would be earmarked for a five-year Cleaner Production Partnership Programme to provide professional advice and technical support to Hong Kong-owned factories in the region. Industry associations and the Legislative Council are supporting the programme, which will be launched in April 2008.


Hong Kong and climate change

Our regional programme to reduce pollution has developed over many years of discussion and co-operation with Guangdong. Sharing a boundary means sharing the effects of pollution and both sides are keen to see improvements. Hong Kong also has global obligations. Like many countries, we are concerned about climate change and we want to reduce our impacts as far as possible.

Hong Kong's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are at the lower end of the scale compared with most developed countries. Our emissions were 6.6 tonnes per capita in 2006, down four per cent from 1990. As part of China, we are not required to meet reductions under the Kyoto Protocol. Nonetheless, we are committed to being a responsible global citizen and we have embarked on measures to mitigate our emissions.

 

These two schematic diagrams illustrates conditions when there are no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (left), and the greenhouse effect (right).

These two schematic diagrams illustrate conditions when there are no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (left), and the greenhouse effect (right).

Over the years we have adopted cleaner natural gas for power generation, promoted renewable energy, encouraged energy efficiency in all sectors of society, developed an efficient and environmentally friendly public transport system, utilised landfill gas as a fuel, implemented extensive tree planting and conducted research on the impacts of climate change and possible responses for Hong Kong.

Further initiatives were announced in the Chief Executive's 2007-08 Policy Address , including a public consultation on mandatory Building Energy Codes, a mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme, a carbon audit of the Tamar Government Office Complex that would set an example for the private sector, promotion of the use of biodiesel, and a comprehensive study to assess the likely impacts of climate change on Hong Kong and to examine further ways of enhancing our mitigation and adaptation measures. The study will be steered by the  Interdepartmental Working Group on Climate Change, which is led by the EPD and was set up to strengthen the co-ordination of efforts in tackling climate change. The Government also pledged to reduce energy intensity by at least 25 per cent by 2030 at a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (see Energy for details) and joined the C40 Cities -Climate Leadership Group to work with other cities to combat climate change.

Climate change and pollution are not confined by administrative boundaries. The solutions to these challenges lie in co-operating with others. Hong Kong has been reaching out for many years to our neighbours and other countries to find joint solutions, and we will continue to do so with the goal of improving our shared environment.

Hong Kong's first commercial scaled wind turbine at Lamma Island.

Hong Kong's first commercial scaled wind turbine at Lamma Island.


Looking Ahead
Looking Ahead
 
  • A study will begin on climate change in Hong Kong to identify further efforts to combat climate change.
  • A five-year Cleaner Production Partnership Programme will be launched for Hong Kong-owned factories in the Pearl River Delta region.
  • The Hazardous Chemicals Control Ordinance will come into operation.

Topical Issues