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CLP Power can take lead in pollution fight

Can CLP help us by setting up new green traget?

Can CLP help us by setting up new green traget?

The failure of the Copenhagen climate summit to cut a deal to tackle rising temperatures effectively is a sad indictment of leaders’ claims to be taking the matter seriously. In the absence of a unified effort, governments have to implement their own targets and rules to reduce the carbon emissions that are causing global warming.

The chief of Hong Kong’s biggest electricity producer and single largest polluter is right to say the lack of a legally binding treaty is a “real shame” and big disappointment. He should be going a step further by pairing his rhetoric with policies that make his company a shining example for others to follow.

CLP Holdings has a target of a 75 per cent cut in carbon intensity by 2050. It aims to have 20 per cent of its power generated from renewable and nuclear sources by 2020. Goals need to be set and met to fight climate change. They could be considerably more ambitious than those put in place by CLP.

Emissions from the power plants operated by CLP and Hong Kong’s other electricity supplier, Hongkong Electric Holdings, account for the majority of our city’s carbon emissions. Both firms are public companies with shareholders’ interests to protect. But the pollution that comes from the smokestacks of their plants affects the well-being of all citizens.

They have to make every possible effort to keep pollution levels as low as possible. Generating electricity by burning the most polluting fossil fuel of all, coal – as happens at present – is not in Hong Kong’s interests. Power bills are kept low, but the grey pall that hangs overhead threatens and harms our health. Our city’s image is lessened in the eyes of tourists and businesses wanting to locate here or expand.

Alternatives should be used as soon as possible, even at a higher cost. Both electricity providers are making an effort. In CLP’s case, sights are set on new nuclear reactors in Guangdong to complement cleaner energy being produced at its jointly owned plant at Daya Bay. More than 10 per cent of the power coming from its stations across the region is generated from renewable sources other than nuclear – up from 1 per cent five years ago. More gas and oil are being used instead of coal. As the unambitious targets indicate, though, greater effort is needed. The government drives Hong Kong’s policies to cut carbon emissions. It has not set targets, which are of debatable value in the context of a city that has a small area and is prone to the effects of regional pollution.

Officials have a poor track record in environmental protection. Their lack of a popular mandate to govern has made them reluctant to implement laws that affect the companies that contribute to bulging coffers. Authorities need to be pushed into tougher pollution-cutting policies. CLP is perfectly placed to take the lead. By setting an example through taking bigger strides to clean up its operations, it will send a loud and clear message to the government and community.

Electricity charges will most likely be raised, but the cost is worth bearing for the sake of the improvements that will follow.

Source: SCMP

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