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JWGSDEP holds 12th meeting in Guangzhou and endorses next phase of PRD regional air pollutant emission reduction plan (with photo)

      The Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection (JWGSDEP) held its 12th meeting in Guangzhou today (November 23). Both sides endorsed a major air pollutant emission reduction plan for the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region up to 2020 and agreed on key environmental co-operation actions for 2013.

     There has been close collaboration between the two governments and both sides agreed that concerted efforts in improving the environmental co-operation mechanisms, as well as expanding and deepening the areas of co-operation, have borne fruit. In particular, there has been significant improvement in regional air quality since the two governments jointly announced the "Joint Statement on Improving Air Quality in the PRD Region for 2002-2010" and subsequently took forward a series of vigorous emission reduction measures. Setting emission reduction targets for 2015 and 2020 underscores the determination of the two governments to further improve air quality, and takes Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation into a new phase. Both sides will implement emission reduction measures to bring continuous improvement to the PRD regional air quality.

     Improving regional air quality was underlined as the focus of Hong Kong-Guangdong environmental collaboration at today's JWGSDEP meeting. The two governments agreed to continue the implementation of emission reduction measures with a view to further improving regional air quality. Both sides reviewed the 2010 emission inventories and considered the level of emission reduction achieved. The meeting also endorsed the emission reduction plan for the PRD region up to 2020.

     According to the emission reduction assessment results (details in Annex A), Hong Kong has met the 2010 emission reduction targets jointly set with the Guangdong government in 2002. The targets cover the emission of four major air pollutants, i.e. sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). The PRD Economic Zone (PRDEZ) has also fully completed the 2010 reduction targets for SO2, NOx and RSP. Its VOC emission has been significantly reduced although the extent of reduction has not fully met the agreed target. This is mainly because the socio-economic development of the PRDEZ has far outpaced the originally anticipated growth rate.

     In respect of the next phase of the emission reduction plan, the two governments endorsed the emission reduction targets for 2015, and agreed to set emission reduction ranges for 2020. As compared with the emission levels in 2010, the reduction targets of the four major air pollutants in Hong Kong and the PRDEZ for 2015 and 2020 are shown in Annex B. In devising the above reduction targets, both sides have taken account of their respective 2010 pollution emission levels, different characteristics of emission sources, emission control and reduction measures that have been implemented and their effectiveness, as well as the reduction potential of various sectors. The two sides will carry out a review in 2015 to assess the state of socio-economic development at the time and progress made in emission reduction, with a view to finalising the emission reduction targets for 2020.

     To achieve the emission reduction targets set for 2015 and 2020, the two governments will implement additional reduction measures focusing on major emission sources with a view to bringing continuous improvement to regional air quality. Key emission reduction measures to be implemented by Hong Kong include:

* tightening of vehicle emission standards;
* phasing out highly polluting commercial diesel vehicles;
* retrofitting Euro II and Euro III franchised buses with selective catalytic reduction devices;
* strengthening inspection and maintenance of petrol and liquefied petroleum gas vehicles;
* requiring ocean-going vessels to switch to using low sulphur fuel while at berth;
* tightening the permissible sulphur content level of locally supplied marine diesel;
* controlling emissions from off-road vehicles/equipment;
* further tightening of emission caps on power plants and increasing use of clean energy for electricity generation; and
* controlling VOC contents of solvents used in printing and construction industry.

     The key emission reduction measures to be implemented by Guangdong include:

* requiring thermal power plants to install low-NOx and denitrification systems;
* promoting conversion of oil-fired generating units into gas generating units;
* enhancing RSP emission control at power plants;
* promoting the use of National IV standard motor fuels (including petrol and diesel) and tightening diesel vehicle emission standards;
* phasing out yellow-label vehicles (i.e. petrol vehicles of pre-National emission standard or below and diesel vehicles of National II emission standard or below);
* phasing out highly polluting industries with low energy efficiency;
* enhancing emission control on industrial boilers as well as for specific industries (including petrochemical, cement, ceramic, furniture manufacturing, printing, etc); and
* setting up a registration and reporting system on the usage and emission control of organic solvents at major enterprises with a view to strengthening control VOC emission control.

     In addition, the JWGSDEP agreed on other key environmental co-operation areas of work for 2013, including promoting cleaner production, protecting the water environment, and managing the forestry and marine resources, as detailed in Annex C.

     The JWGSDEP, co-chaired by the Secretary for the Environment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Director-General of the Environmental Protection Department of the Guangdong Provincial Government, was set up in 2000. Officials of the HKSAR Government attending today's meeting included representatives of the Environment Bureau/Environmental Protection Department, Development Bureau, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and Water Supplies Department. Officials of the Guangdong side included representatives of Environmental Protection Department of Guangdong Province, Development and Reform Commission of Guangdong Province, Economic and Information Commission of Guangdong Province, Water Resources Department of Guangdong Province, Forestry Department of Guangdong Province, Administration of Ocean and Fisheries of Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of Guangdong Province, and Human Settlements and Environment Commission of Shenzhen Municipality. The JWGSDEP discusses and carries out exchanges on matters relating mainly to environmental quality, natural resources, the ecological environment and sustainable development. Seven special panels have been set up under the JWGSDEP to take forward various co-operation initiatives.

Ends/Friday, November 23, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:30


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