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April, 2008:

Regulate CO2 from Power Plants Now

Hong Kong green groups’ joint campaign

Filed under: Hong Kong Climate change — Jacqui Dixon @ 20:28 pm – CSR Asia

Six green groups in Hong Kong have been running a campaign over the last few weeks to encourage the Hong Kong government to incorporate carbon dioxide into the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, which limits air pollutants from the two local power companies CLP and HEC. The groups argue that “the government only regulates power plants’ so called ‘conventional’ air pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and continues to turn a blind eye to capping their CO2″.

Regulate CO2 from Power Plants Now!

Six Green Groups Urge You to Sign a Petition to the Government

Dear friends,

Climate change is accelerating! Hong Kong Observatory said our winter will disappear after 20 years. The government is amending the Air Pollution Control Ordinance to limit air pollutants from the two local power companies, CLP and HEC after 2010. Yet emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the major greenhouse gas (GHG) causing climate change, is not regulated at all. Six green groups now urge for your support to combat global warming by escalating the urgency for the government to restrict CO2 emissions from the power plants.

The two power companies are the biggest local sources of GHG emissions, accounting for 70% of the total CO2 released. They definitely contribute to climate change. However, the government only regulates power plants’ so called ‘conventional’ air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and continues to turn a blind eye to capping their CO2.

Send the following letter to the Chief Executive and the Secretary of Environment Bureau today. Request for CO2 emission caps for power plants in the Air Pollution Control Ordinance. Let’s stop allowing the power companies to cook the climate!

Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong), Greenpeace, Greensense, Greeners Action, WWF Hong Kong, Clear The Air

Warning To Electricity Guzzlers

Barclay Crawford – SCMP – Updated on Apr 27, 2008

Electricity consumption will jump by 30 per cent by 2020 if businesses and households do not act to limit power use, a green group has warned.

Friends of the Earth released data for their Power Smart campaign yesterday, saying that based on annual increases over the past decade, consumption would reach 52.8 billion kWh and carbon dioxide emissions would hit 31 million tonnes by 2020. This would lead to more pollution and health problems, Angus Wong, spokesman for the group, said.

Mr Wong said that despite a recent survey showing that 70 per cent of citizens acknowledged they were “informed wasters”, little action was being taken to reduce power consumption.

“Most people know they consume too much but they still do nothing,” Mr Wong said. “The government also still has no concrete or complete energy-saving policies. The European Union is actually on track to reduce consumption by 20 per cent for the same period. Hong Kong needs to act now.”

Friends of the Earth said commercial operations guzzled 66 per cent of the city’s energy and he urged them to find ways to limit use, especially in summer. The campaign launch came a day after the government gazetted a budget measure to offer businesses tax breaks for using greener production equipment.

In the bill before the Legislative Council, eligible equipment will qualify for a 100 per cent tax deduction in the year of purchase. It includes machinery to reduce air pollution, water treatment facilities and noise-minimising construction tools.

Environmentally friendly gear which also attracts tax breaks includes renewable generators for wind, solar and thermal power.

Power Shortfall To Hit 10GW

Reuters in Beijing – Updated on Apr 22, 2008

The mainland’s power demand this year could outpace supply by as much as 10 gigawatts (GW), with temporary brownouts hitting parts of the south during the summer, State Electricity Regulatory Commission vice-chairman Wang Yeping said on Tuesday.

Mainland power firms were building new power stations each year but coal-burning generators were struggling with soaring fuel costs, an over-stretched domestic transport system and strong competition for supplies.

Mr Wang told a news conference that fuel stocks at key power plants had slipped to levels that covered 12 days of generation, from 15 days early last month.

At plants in Hebei province bordering Beijing, Anhui province in the east, and the western municipality of Chongqing, stores had collapsed even further, to less than 7 days’ use.

“Since [last month], the country’s thermal coal supply has again shown some tightness. Coal stocks fell again. At some power plants, thermal coal supply is already quite tight,” he said.

Coal prices shot up to record highs during power and coal shortages in early February, when freak winter weather cut off roads, railways and power lines and left some plants with coal to cover just two days of production.

Prices have eased as winter heating demand ebbs and mines resume production. Benchmark spot prices at Qinhuangdao, the mainland’s main coal port, for top-grade coal, were at 640 yuan (HK$713) to 650 yuan per tonne on Tuesday.

This was below 670 yuan to 680 yuan in early February but still 37 per cent higher than a year earlier, according to, a coal market information website operated by a business venture.

Despite these high prices, the central government is reluctant to take one measure analysts say could bolster coal supplies, increase investment in new plants and ensure existing ones run at full steam – raise state set power prices.

Inflation is currently running close to the highest level in more than a decade, and Mr Wang said authorities had to consider many factors, including the impact on inflation, when weighing up whether to increase power prices.

But prices are currently so low they leave an increasing number of plants in the red, and could exacerbate shortages.

And Mr Wang’s forecast may be conservative, as booming Guangdong had warned last month that it alone could face shortfalls of 10GW.

Although Guangdong is expected to face some of the worst problems, other rich coastal provinces are likely to strain to meet demand as well over peak summer months.

Change In Pollution Law Relaxes Controls Over Power Plants

SCMP – Updated on Apr 19, 2008

Legislators are asking why the bill to amend the Air Pollution Control Ordinance does not cap emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants (“Carbon caps for power plants mean high bills”, April 11).

They are missing the point. The bill does not seek to tighten the existing controls over power plant emissions but to relax them.

The ordinance at present allows the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to set emissions caps for power plants in Hong Kong having regard to:

  • The best practical means for preventing the emission of air pollutants;
  • The attainment and maintenance of the government’s air quality objectives; and
  • The extent to which emissions are prejudicial to health.

The EPD does not need additional legal powers to require the power companies to fit scrubbers and use other “best practical means” for reducing their emissions.

What is new in the bill is the proposal that the EPD should be able to relax emissions caps so that the Hong Kong power companies can buy emissions credits (essentially licences to pollute) under a recognised emissions trading scheme.

The bill would give the power companies the right to appeal if the EPD refuses their application to buy emissions credits.

The bill gives the general public in Hong Kong no right to challenge the granting of an application, even if the increase in allowed emissions would worsen local air quality and be prejudicial to health.

The EPD has promised its counterpart in Guangdong to implement the pilot cross-border emissions trading scheme that they announced in January 2007. It is right that it should do so.

However, it is regrettable that the proposed amendment treats emissions trading as a private matter between the EPD and the power companies and fails to impose any duty on the EPD to exercise its new power with a view to improving air quality in Hong Kong.

David Renton, Repulse Bay

Australian PM Agrees To Collaborate Over Climate

Reuters in Canberra – Updated on Apr 12, 2008

Australia and China have agreed to hold annual ministerial talks on climate change and work together to clean up carbon pollution from coal-fired power stations.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the announcement in Beijing after talks a day earlier with Premier Wen Jiabao , saying both countries needed to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, and the mainland is the world’s biggest generator of coal-fired electricity.

Mr Rudd said that meant both had an interest in finding ways to clean up carbon emissions from coal-fired power.

“We in Australia must collaborate absolutely closely with China on the climate change challenge,” said Mr Rudd, who had offered to act as a bridge between China and the west on climate change.

“What we want to do is work with China to produce a better outcome globally on climate change, which is critical for the planet.”

Mr Rudd has made the climate change issue one of his priorities since his centre-left Labor government won power last November. His first act was to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The former conservative government led by John Howard refused to ratify the UN pact, which sets binding greenhouse gas curbs for developed nations.

Mr Howard had joined US President George W. Bush in rejecting the pact because the mainland and India, which are both major polluters, were not obliged to tackle their rapidly growing emissions under Kyoto’s first phase, which ends in 2012.

The mainland is the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and studies suggest it might have overtaken the United States last year.

Under the new deal, Australia will provide A$20 million (HK$145.1 million) to a joint clean coal project to help fund research projects on clean coal technology.

Mr Rudd and Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong visited the Gaobeidian coal-fired power station in Beijing, where Australia is spending A$4 million on a carbon capture and storage project.

Mr Rudd said the plant was to be running by August and, if successful, would store around 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

He said the mainland and Australia had agreed to hold annual ministerial talks on climate change, with the first meeting to be hosted in Australia in the second half of this year.

Make Carbon Dioxide A Statutory Air Pollutant

Apr 11, 2008 – SCMP

Electricity tariffs might go up by as much as a third if power suppliers are to cut their carbon emissions significantly, a government source has hinted.

The rough estimate was revealed to the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) yesterday as lawmakers and green groups were pressing the government to make carbon dioxide a statutory air pollutant, and set carbon caps for power plants.

Officials have made it clear that any such a move is not imminent but could not be ruled out in the future.

The source said power-station carbon emissions could be lowered if natural gas was made the dominant fuel, but whether it should be achieved “at all costs” was subject to further debate.

The fuel mix could change, he said, and “the remaining two options are either retrofitting [existing plants with technology that cuts carbon emissions] or emissions trading”.

The source did not say exactly what emissions reduction a 30 per cent rise in power fees would achieve.

At the first scrutiny of a proposed amendment to the Air Pollution Control Ordinance yesterday, legislators from major parties asked why officials had failed to take the opportunity to regulate carbon emissions in the bill. The amendment is aimed at including in the bill statutory backing for emissions caps on power plants in relation to three air pollutants that have a direct impact on the health of the population.

It also spells out the general rules of emissions trading in case power firms fail to meet caps.

Lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit, of the Civic Party, said it would do no harm if a carbon cap were imposed on power plants even if it were frozen until the government felt comfortable about tightening it.

“At least we can cap the carbon emissions at existing levels and ensure that the power plants will not do worse than that,” he said.

Benny Wong Yiu-kam, the assistant director of environmental protection, said at the meeting that electricity costs could see sharp increases if the power companies were asked to scrap their coal-fired power stations and replace them with gas-fired plants.

He said gas prices had increased greatly in recent years.

Greenpeace activist Frances Yeung Hoi-shan said the cost for cutting power-plant carbon output might not be as high as officials claimed.

She said power plants could use a mix of strategies simultaneously – energy conservation, emissions trading, use of renewable energy and more use of natural gas.

Members Of The Environmental Group Greenpeace Protest

Monday, 07 April 2008 – Macau Daily Times

Members of the environmental group Greenpeace protest over power plant C02 emissions by releasing balloons into the air in front of the skyline in Hong Kong yesterday. According to Greenpeace, the Hong Kong Observatory – the government weather agency – has warned that winter will disappear in two decades, yet the environmental group says the government is showing no signs of capping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in its latest amendment to the Air Pollution Control Ordinance.

Carbon Caps Demanded

Peter So – Updated on Apr 07, 2008 – SCMP

Greenpeace wants the government to impose a legal cap on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants after a survey found more than 80 per cent of people agreed with the move.

Of the 514 people polled, 70 per cent were concerned with the effects of global warming on Hong Kong.

Activist Frances Yeung Hoi-shan said the government should regulate emissions from power plants.

The group urged electricity companies to cut their emissions by 15 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020.

Research by the Environmental Protection Department shows power plants account for more than 60 per cent of the city’s carbon dioxide emissions, which had increased 14 per cent in the past decade.

On Thursday, the Legislative Council will discuss an amendment to the Air Pollution Control Ordinance to regulate emissions from power plants, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

However, emissions of carbon dioxide will not be regulated, according to government proposals.

“The government refused to regulate power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions, saying that it would increase electricity costs and bring technical problems,” Ms Yeung said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has called for the government and bus companies to speed up measures to reduce air pollution.

Party legislator Sin Chung-kai said there was no government policy to regulate the phasing out of old diesel buses and state subsidies were needed. Kowloon Motor Bus, the city’s largest bus company with 4,000 buses, plans to phase out its dirtiest vehicles in six years, including more than 500 buses predating Euro emission standards.

Officials Must Kick Out CLP’s Plans For Extra Spending

Updated on Apr 05, 2008 – SCMP

I see it is business as usual for CLP Power under the revised scheme of control agreement for electricity companies (“CLP places LNG plant on shopping list”, March 31).

Under the previous arrangement, CLP Power was able to generate extra income for shareholders (mainly Exxon) of HK$3.2 billion to HK3.6 billion per annum from capital spending of HK$23.8 billion over the past five years, at the permitted rate of return of 13.5 per cent to 15 per cent per annum. Barely is the ink dry on the new agreement and CLP Power wants to bump that spending up to HK$38 billion, to generate HK$3.7 billion per annum extra income under the next “five-year plan”.

This extra spending is needed to “compensate” for the miserly rate of return of 9.99 per cent now imposed upon it by a heartless administration.

If allowed, this money would come straight out of hard-pressed Hong Kong consumers’ pockets. But what is it all for? In addition to the deeply unpopular and unnecessary liquefied natural gas plant on South Soko Island, we can no doubt look forward to endless roadworks up and down the length of Lantau and the New Territories, upgrading the transmission lines to “super class”.

Only a passing mention was given to the long overdue installation of 1980s technology, finally, to reduce emissions from the notorious coal-fired generating plant at Castle Peak (Hong Kong’s single largest polluter), and none at all to energy conservation measures. At the moment, the more you burn, the less you pay.

Profligate corporate users have no need to economise, and all the incentives are to keep CLP Power generating more electricity, further increasing our carbon footprint, along with its executive remuneration packages.

Padding of budget submissions is an old bureaucratic trick, of course, and, by now, our energy officials at the Environmental Protection Department will be well used to these ruses.

It is to be hoped that the department will take an axe to CLP Power’s more extravagant capital expenditure proposals. The LNG plant is top of the list for the chop, in my view.

John Schofield, Lantau

THE TOXIC 100: Top Corporate Air Polluters In The United States

April 2008 – Political Economy Research Institute (PERI)

Each year since 2002, researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts release the Toxic 100, an updated list of the top corporate air polluters in the United States.

The Toxic 100 index identifies the top U.S. air polluters among the world’s largest corporations. The index relies on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) project. The starting point for the RSEI is the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which reports on releases of toxic chemicals at facilities across the United States. TRI data are widely cited in press stories on “top polluters,” but they have limitations that the Toxic 100 addresses.
We deplore to see ranking in 9th position Exxon Mobil, the majority shareholder of China Light & Power
(CLP), Hong Kong’s largest electricity producer.

Toxic 100

Top 10  (ranking 2008)

E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co.

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)

Dow Chemical

Bayer Group

Eastman Kodak

General Electric

Arcelor Mittal

U.S. Steel


AK Steel Holding