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Amended Air Pollution Law Will Lead To Drastic Emissions Cuts

Updated on May 02, 2008 – SCMP

I refer to David Renton’s letter (“Change in pollution law relaxes controls over power plants”, April 19), regarding our proposed amendment to the Air Pollution Control Ordinance.

Quite contrary to what he thinks, the proposed amendment is an important step towards achieving the 2010 emission reduction targets agreed with the Guangdong provincial government. Through the amendments, the Hong Kong government proposes to establish the necessary control mechanism to ensure a timely and transparent implementation of the emission caps for the power sector and to cater for possible tightening of the caps in future.

To achieve the 2010 emissions caps, which provide for a radical scaling back of the key air pollutants produced by the power sector by 24 per cent – to 54 per cent of the emission levels in 1997 – the two power companies will have to install additional emission reduction facilities, such as an advanced flue gas desulfurisation system and low-nitrogen-oxides technology. These facilities should be completed in phases starting next year. The amendment bill also proposes to allow the power companies to participate in cross-border emissions trading as an alternative to meeting the emission caps.

The emission trading scheme requires the seller of emission credits to embark upon additional emission abatement projects to achieve further emission reduction beyond statutory limits. Only then will emission credits be generated for trading. This trading framework will offer a flexible and potentially more cost-effective option for power plants in the region to meet the emission limits, thereby help improve the air quality of Hong Kong and the region. To ensure no adverse impact on the local air quality in the vicinity of the power station, the director of environmental protection may also impose any necessary terms and conditions upon the approval of the use of these emissions credits.

Power generation is the largest emission source in Hong Kong. Emissions must be reduced greatly if we are to improve air quality. The proposed legislative amendments aim to do just that.

Pang Sik-wing, principal environmental protection officer, Environmental Protection Department

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