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Online Guide To Climate-friendly Goods Launched – New List Shows Appliances’ Footprints

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Apr 02, 2009

A green group has called on electrical appliance manufacturers to provide more low-carbon-emission products for the global market, after the publication of the first local guide on climate-friendly goods.

The online guide, launched by WWF Hong Kong yesterday, lists 300 models of nine popular electrical appliances that have low carbon footprints, are made under more than 50 brands and are available on the local market.

It offers information on annual energy consumption, efficiency, carbon emissions and price references for climate-conscious shoppers.

There are also tips on the wise use of appliances.

The information was collated from data obtained from manufacturers and energy labelling schemes in Hong Kong, the United States and Europe.

“All those models in the guides are low carbon emission, but we won’t tell people how to choose as we have given them the tool to make their own choices,” said William Yu Yuen-ping, the head of WWF’s climate programme.

The appliances covered include air conditioners, compact fluorescent lamps, refrigerators, televisions, water heaters, rice cookers, laptop computers, printers and game consoles.

Dr Yu said the first six types of appliance already accounted for 85 per cent of total household electricity consumption, which grew by 34 per cent between 1990 and 2005.

The guide would fill the gaps in Hong Kong’s energy efficiency labelling scheme, which has so far made labelling mandatory only on air conditioners, compact fluorescent lamps and refrigerators.

Consumers using the guides are advised to decide what their priorities are because they might have to compromise.

For instance, the most climate-friendly model will often not be the cheapest, while the one which offers the highest energy efficiency will not necessarily be the one which consumes the least energy.

Dr Yu said it was time for individuals to act and exert their influence on the market.

“If there are demands from the public, manufacturers will be motivated to produce more low-carbon appliances.

“Let’s get started in our daily lives instead of just relying on the politicians to do something for us,” Dr Yu said, citing the Copenhagen climate conference to be held later this year.

Wat Hong-keung from the Hong Kong and Kowloon Electric Appliances Trader Federation welcomed the guide, but said consumer awareness about energy efficiency had improved in recent years.

“Many of them pay great attention to energy efficiency in case they have two choices of similar quality and price,” he said.

“But they are normally motivated by saving money rather than saving the world.”

The guide can be seen online at

The Port of Hong Kong – download the full report here.

Case Study: Hong Kong

The Port of Hong Kong has been a leading Asian seaport for more than a century and a top container port for more than three decades. Between 2001 and 2006, Hong Kong container throughput increased by 32 percent from 17.8 million to 23.5 million TEUs. Containerized cargo in Hong Kong now represents about 74 percent of Hong Kong’s total cargo throughput. In 2006, Hong Kong was the second largest container port in the world, although it is likely that it was surpassed by Shanghai in 2008. The port is served by 80 international shipping lines with over 450 container liner services per week to over 500 destinations worldwide. The port is managed by the Marine Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the local government for the city.

Hong Kong is located in the Pearl River Delta, which includes other cities and container ports, including the Port of Shenzhen, the world’s fourth largest container port. Container traffic at Shenzhen has also steadily risen recently, to 18.5 million TEUs in 2006 compared with 5.0 million TEUs in 2001. Together, in 2006, the Hong Kong and Shenzhen ports accounted for 9.5 percent of global container volume, making the Pearl River Delta the largest container handling region in the world. Cargo throughput is expected to grow. A study commissioned by the Hong Kong Transport and Housing Bureau estimates that, by 2030, Hong Kong will handle between 39 and 43 million TEUs.

Air quality in the Hong Kong is generally poor and levels remain much higher than the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. Since 1990, emissions of all air pollutants have risen dramatically.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides doubled and particulate matter showed over a 90 percent gain. In 2006, Civic Exchange, a nonprofit public policy research organization based in Hong Kong, published a report, Marine Emission Reduction Options for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta Region, which found that local vehicle and marine emissions are the dominant source of air pollution in Hong Kong during prevailing wind conditions that exist about one-third of the year.

Governments and other stakeholders in the maritime sector have already implemented some positive measures including the promotion of low sulfur fuel use by marine vessels and port vehicles, the use of electricity to power port machinery and the reduction of fuel consumption through efficiency measures. These measures in themselves have not been sufficient to reduce port emissions on a scale necessary to protect public health, but pressure to take more ambitious action is growing.

In February and March 2008, Civic Exchange sponsored two workshops for stakeholders involved in port environmental issues. The working group for the workshop included four stakeholder groups: oceangoing vessel operators, port operators, local craft harbor operators and land vessel operators involved in port activities. The stakeholder groups all endorsed government incentives to encourage green technologies and to pay the incremental cost of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel compared to lower grade conventional fuels. They also supported increased research and development of advanced technologies for marine applications, pursuit of shore power use by berthed ships and the creation of a low emission area subject to IMO regulations.

The recommendations of the working group were used by Civic Exchange in the development of its July 2008 report, Green Harbours: Hong and Shenzhen — Reducing Marine and Port Related Pollution. The report’s five key recommendations are as follows:

• In the short term: Foster greater regional collaboration across borders, port and marine sectors
• In the medium term: Develop a comprehensive green ports strategy and related policy measures to create the regulatory and planning framework for implementing green port policies
• Develop cleaner fuels initiatives to encourage the use and availability of cleaner fuels
• Expand training programs for industry employees to encourage proper equipment operation to ensure efficient operation
• Conduct additional port related research to identify new green port projects suitable for Hong Kong

Hong Kong is responding to the increased recognition of the role of port activities in the city’s environmental problems. In June 2008, Hong Kong ratified the MARPOL Annex VI marine fuel quality standards as a Special Administrative Region of China recognized at the IMO separately from the national government in Beijing, which had already ratified the agreement. It plans to go beyond the new IMO regulations by applying fuel quality standards to local shipping as well as international commerce
regulated by the IMO.

Emissions from ships in Hong Kong harbor are regulated by the Marine Department. Ships in the harbor now use 5,000 ppm sulfur fuel. The ferry system will start running a trial using 50 ppm sulfur fuel early next year. Assuming the results are positive, political leaders seem committed to continue its use in ferries, but not to expand it to other craft without the cooperation of other cities in the Pearl River Delta mooring local marine craft.

The Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) was very active during the few years of debate before the MARPOL Annex VI Amendments were adopted in October 2008, says Arthur Bowring, Managing Director of the group. The HKSOA represents more than 100 shipping companies that own more than 1,100 ships. “Environment is our biggest single challenge,” adds Bowring, referring to shipowners.

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is the chief air pollution regulatory agency in Hong Kong for landside emission sources, including all types of motorized vehicles. “Marine emissions are a new issue for us,” notes W.C. Mok, Principal Environmental Protection Officer.206 There are currently no regulatory standards that apply to offroad cargo handling equipment at ports. Onroad trucks fueling in Hong Kong are required to buy diesel fuel containing only 10 ppm sulfur, but when refueling takes place across the border with mainland China, they are subject only to a 500 ppm sulfur cap. Since most trucks delivering containers to Hong Kong pick up their cargo at mainland factories, most diesel fuel burned in Hong Kong is the higher sulfur content grade.

The 10 ppm fuel is much more expensive, even with an exemption from sales taxes offered by Hong Kong. The EPD is currently studying the technical feasibility of using compressed or liquefied natural gas in heavy duty vehicles. It will examine the results in 2009. The EPD is also studying options to reduce air pollution from cargo handling equipment at container ports.

As government agencies assess regulatory options, several private container terminal operators are moving ahead to deploy hybrid electric rubber tire gantries (RTGs). Seventeen hybrid electric RTGs were deployed at Container Terminal 4 owned by Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT) in 2008. They are the first step in a $18 million (U.S. dollars) program to equip 81 RTGs with hybrid electric drivetrains, about 70 percent of HITs total fleet. The hybrid RTGs are fitted with lithium ion batteries that provide power to help lift containers. The batteries are recharged by regenerative braking energy generated during the lowering of containers and from a generator powered by the onboard diesel engine.

In October 2008, Modern Terminals Ltd. signed a contract with Kawatoyo Electric Company Ltd., the sole agent for Yaskawa Group Port Crane System, to convert 44 RTGs with hybrid electric drivetrains at its terminal in Hong Kong by mid-2009. The drivetrains are being developed by Yaskawa Electric Corporation. They use ultracapacitors as the onboard energy storage technology.

The Modern Terminals Da Chen Bay Terminal 1 at Shenzhen already uses hybrid electric RTGs. The terminal is the first to convert its entire RTG fleet to hybrid electric drivetrains. Modern Terminals associate company, Taicang International Container Terminal, is currently converting its fleet at the Port of Shanghai to hybrid electric RTGs.

In other programs at Shenzhen, Shekou Container Terminal (SCT) is installing auxiliary generators onboard its entire fleet of 78 RTGs by the end of 2010 at the port of Shekou. It is also installing rail mounted gantry cranes (RMGs), which are quieter, last longer, and are 20 percent more efficient than conventional RTGs. By the end of 2008, SCT plans to install 16 RMGs. Another initiative is studying the use of using hybrid technology or LNG yard tractors.

Yantian International Container Terminals (YICT) is the largest port in Shenzhen, handling 10 million TEUs in 2007. YICT has converted 12 of its 200 RTGs from conventional to hybrid electric drivetrains, and plans to switch another 60. The RTGs are equipped with supercapacitors, which are yielding a 25 percent energy savings by capturing and reusing energy released as containers are lowered to the ground. Anticipating shoreside power, YICT has started installing infrastructure works and is studying power converter technology before implementing this new technology. It is also promoting rail transportation from the port on its dedicated rail line. Each train can transport 50 containers in one journey, making them more efficient and cleaner than trucks.

Tax Break Set For Electric Vehicles

February 25, 2009 – Environment

The First Registration Tax exemption for electric vehicles will be extended five more years to promote their use. The exemption is due to expire March 31, but will be extended five years instead of three years as in the past.

In his 2009-10 Budget today Financial Secretary John Tsang said promoting the use of vehicles which are more energy efficient and emit no exhaust will create business opportunities.

He will lead a steering committee to study their wider use in Hong Kong, conduct in-depth studies and make recommendations from the perspectives of economic development, town planning, industry, technology, environmental protection and transport.

The Government will study the feasibility of jointly promoting electric vehicles with manufacturers, and be actively involved in testing them to introduce them into the local market early.

“We will also consider introducing such vehicles into the government fleet when the related technology has matured and the vehicles are available on the market,” Mr Tsang said.

The Government will study the feasibility of providing recharging facilities in public multi-storey car parks and explore ways of encouraging the business sector, including property developers and private car park operators, to set up such facilities.

Saving energy

Noting buildings account for 90% of Hong Kong’s total power consumption, Mr Tsang said the Environment & Conservation Fund will allocate $450 million for private building owners to conduct energy- carbon audits and energy efficiency improvement projects. More than 1,600 projects will be subsidised.

Another $450 million will be allocated to conduct minor works in government buildings in the next two years to install energy-efficient lighting, retrofit plumbing with water-saving devices and incorporate energy-efficient features in air-conditioning, elevator and escalator systems.

Going green

In the coming year Greening Master Plan projects undertaken by the Civil Engineering & Development Department will cover the whole of Hong Kong Island and urban Kowloon.

Landscaping features will be provided on 500 old slopes and greening work on the rooftops of 40 government buildings through additional funding for minor works. Schools and other non-profit-making organisations will also be subsidised to conduct greening work.

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong will co-operate with Guangdong to transform the Pearl River Delta region into a green and quality-living area with a cluster of high-tech, low-pollution and low-energy-consumption cities.

“We will further develop regional high-tech recycling industries, and encourage enterprises to adopt advanced technologies for cleaner production, energy saving and emission reduction,” Mr Tsang said, noting promoting a green economy will enhance Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness and make it a more liveable city.

Young Prepared To Spend More On Green Energy

Young prepared to spend more on green energy, survey finds

Shi Jiangtao in Beijing – SCMP – Updated on Feb 18, 2009

Urban mainlanders are willing to pay as much as 20 per cent more for cleaner energy to help reduce the country’s reliance on coal, a survey has found.

The Greenpeace China survey, revealing unprecedented awareness among the public about global warming and its environmental and economic impact, came just two days ahead of US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first official visit to the country.

Climate change is expected to be high on Mrs Clinton’s agenda, making it a new focal point between the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Greenpeace China yesterday urged Beijing to heed public opinion and make greater efforts to tackle global warming and pollution.

“There is no excuse for the government not to take this high public acceptance of cleaner energy into consideration and take immediate action to drastically address the threat of global warming by moving away from its heavy reliance on coal towards clean energy,” said campaign director Sze Pang-cheung.

The survey polled 1,175 residents in 10 mainland cities last month, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Harbin, Yinchuan and Linfen in Shanxi province.

Young people said they were more willing to pay for more expensive but environmentally friendly energy, such as wind, solar and nuclear power.

While people aged between 45 and 65 said they would accept a price rise of 17 per cent for cleaner energy, those aged between 15 and 24 said they were willing to pay up to 22 per cent more. Most people blamed industrial production, vehicle emissions, urbanisation and the burning of fossil fuels for global warming.

Climate change was considered one of the top global threats after air and water pollution, with younger people showing greater concern and knowledge of the issue.

People also expressed concern about social stability, the economic crisis, epidemics and poverty.

“The relatively high level of concern [about social breakdown] may be partly explained by wide coverage of social unrest in Tibet and cities across China during the 2008 Olympics,” the study concluded.

While three-quarters of respondents said energy efficient technologies would provide a more reliable and efficient source of power in the long term, 69 per cent said they believed such technologies would help economic growth and 58 per cent said they could create more jobs.

Li Hao of the Ecological Society of China said the findings were encouraging but not surprising.

“They proved once again that Chinese people have a strong sense of responsibility and truly care about the environment because of its impact on health, the economy and their well-being,” she said.

“The government, especially local officials, should pay more attention to people’s concerns.”

Cleaner Fuel For Buses Soon

A significant reduction in the level of pollution is expected in Shanghai soon as a “clean-burning hydrocarbon fuel” will be used to power the city’s buses starting next month, Shanghai’s communication department said. Ten buses fueled by Dimethyl ether (DME) will start serving the city’s No 147 line, running between Hongkou and Yangpu districts from next month. According to Shanghai Urban Construction and Communications Committee, clean and energy-efficient buses are being developed to make the city “greener”. (People’s Daily, 17 Feb)

The Village That Aims for Energy Autarky

Monday 23 June 2008 – truthout

by: Jean-Pierre Stroobants, Le Monde

“Mir hunn energie!” – “We have energy!” The slogan is everywhere in Beckerich. On building facades, official documents, in the heads of ecologist Deputy-Mayor Camille Gira’s fellow citizens. This fiftysome-year-old, who boils over with ideas and plans, has set an objective for his rural commune, located in the west of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: energy autarky.

To give the 2,700 inhabitants mastery over their energy supply “instead of depending on Arab Sheikhs,” as he says. This warm, direct and patient man has worked toward that end for a quarter century, since he became first alderman (assistant mayor), then burgomaster of this rural burg, situated a stone’s throw from the Belgian border.

In these times of steep rises in energy prices, with a liter of heating oil in the Grand Duchy at .90 euros – versus .30 euros five years ago – Camille Gira is not the type to gloat. But he knows that he was right to develop – among others – a system of urban heating based on bio-methanization. Some 90 percent of Beckerich households are now connected to that system and save some 500 euros each and every year compared to the cost of average heating oil consumption.

“The money is obviously not the only factor that must be taken into consideration,” the mayor emphasizes. “I am concerned about environmental and social questions, but I’ve learned to use concrete arguments first of all. Then, to act in such a way that once they’ve joined the program, citizens have no further practical worries.” So, they sign a co-ownership contract for one of the photovoltaic installations on the public buildings made available to them for free and they don’t have to worry about anything else. A public governing body will manage all these little independent solar energy producers’ interests and formalities.

On the commune’s heights, Constant Kieffer is more than a little proud to show what he calls “the cow’s stomach.” With a half-repressed smile and elfin eye, the Biogas manager likes nothing more that to observe the face of visitors when they first observe the bacterial action in his digester through a peephole. Liquid manure, vegetal waste and vegetable oils are poured into this enormous vat covered with a dome, a medium brought to 38 degrees centigrade and deprived of oxygen. At the end of 40 days, biogas is released, which, when burned, will produce electricity for 700 households and hot water for the heating network: 24 kilometers of pipes that enter houses and supply radiators and water heaters. The residue will be used as fertilizer.

To realize his plan, Camille Gira convinced 19 farmers to found a cooperative and invest 5 million euros. Some went so far as to mortgage their farms, but none have expressed the slightest regret: the success has far exceeded their hopes. “When they saw this unit go up, people really began to adhere to our plans,” Camille Gira notes.

Today, demand in the commune is such that Biogas no longer suffices. So, a little further down the road, a team of workmen from Austria are raising a 30 meter high furnace. Starting in October, it will burn wood chips that will provide heat. The wood will come from the 700 hectares of communal forest, 400 hectares of which belong to 260 private owners. City Hall has proposed that they sell or exchange their land. It has also decided to inaugurate 15-year contracts based on barter: the owners will be able to choose to supply wood in exchange for a reduction in their energy bill.

Christian Seidel, a village resident, was one of the first to believe in City Hall’s green energy projects. He paid 2,300 euros and exchanged his oil-burning furnace for a one meter by one meter case in which the exchange of entering hot and departing cold water takes place. “With the network passing right in front of my house, the system requires neither upkeep on a furnace nor chimney cleaning and I save some 400 euros a year,” he explains. Since then, Mr. Seidel, like 10 percent of the residents, has installed solar panels on his roof.

“It’s true people have stopped taking us for lunatics,” Camille Gira comments discreetly. In 1995, as a member of the project International Climate Alliance, he committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Beckerich 50 percent by 2010. That goal will be reached. And autarky? “By 2020, perhaps, but what’s important is the goal, not the date,” the mayor maintains. He knows the rules of marketing, and knows that by setting such an objective for his fellow citizens, he fosters their mobilization.

In the years to come, he is promising them access to wind power. He induces them to change out their electric appliances with bonuses – 38 euros for the purchase of a low-energy refrigerator – to renovate their homes by insulating them better, recover rain water etc. Beckerich households’ electricity consumption has, in any case, dropped 7 percent per year since 1994, while it has grown 2-3 percent in the rest of the country.

Because City Hall knows that’s it’s always necessary and good to provide an example, it everywhere practices what it preaches. At the Oberpallen School, the paints used are mineral-based and the electric cables without PVC. The Sports Center is insulated with a thermally-treated wood that makes it durable. In the commercial area, the main building has a wood frame, triple glazed windows, and a geo-heat, cooling and ventilation system. At the Dillendapp Center, where school-age children go before and after school hours so their mothers may freely work, the lighting system is self-regulating and the air constantly renewed.

From a window in this magnificent building, Camille Gira shows another of his accomplishments: a dedicated section of forest that allows cave swallows, a threatened species, to continue to nest on the ground. “Maybe we’ve already missed the climate change train. But at least I will have demonstrated that it’s possible to change a society, even one that is well-known as conservative,” he concludes.