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LCQ14: Global warming

    Following is a question by the Hon Martin Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (April 9):


    Regarding the issue of global warming, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a)  it will consider setting an upper limit on the total emission of carbon dioxide in Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b)  it had, in the past three years, studied the effects of persistent global warming on Hong Kong's environment, energy consumption, disease transmission and medical expenses, etc.; if it has, of the outcome of the study; and

(c)  it will take the lead in implementing "carbon offsetting" initiatives in government departments; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

(a)  As with other Non-Annex I parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) such as Singapore and South Korea, China (including Hong Kong) is not required to commit to any greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits under the Kyoto Protocol.  Being a service-based economy and a relatively small city, Hong Kong's GHG emissions have been maintained at a comparatively low level.  We do not have any energy-intensive industries.  Our public mass transport systems are also very efficient and highly utilised.  Our principal source of GHG emissions is power generation, which accounts for over 60% of our total GHG emissions.  In the circumstances, the power sector is an area which needs to be addressed if we are to further reduce the total GHG emissions in Hong Kong.  At present, however, there is no mature and commercially viable technology in the world that could reduce, capture and store GHG discharged from the burning of fossil fuels.  Carbon emissions from power generation can therefore only be reduced by changing the fuel mix, e.g. substantial reduction in coal burning in favour of natural gas.  However, changing the fuel mix for power generation involves important and complicated issues such as energy policy, energy security, stability in power supply and electricity tariff.  More in-depth discussions among different sectors in the community are necessary before a decision can be made.

(b)  The Government has been very concerned about the impact brought about by global warming on Hong Kong.  In March 2008, the Environmental Protection Department engaged a consultant to conduct a study on climate change in Hong Kong.  The study is expected to complete in 18 months.  It will review and update the inventories of GHG in Hong Kong; project local GHG emissions trends under different scenarios; characterise the impacts of climate change on Hong Kong; and recommend additional policies and measures to reduce GHG emissions and to facilitate adaptation to climate change, including an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of these proposed measures.

(c)  "Carbon offsetting" is a new concept involving some highly controversial issues such as the effectiveness, feasibility and scope of the carbon offsetting plans, as well as the effective use of public funds.  At present, the Government has no intention to embark on any carbon offsetting programmes.  It will however continue to lead by example in reducing emissions of GHG.  For example, the Government will conduct carbon audit and implement an emission reduction campaign in the new Central Government Complex at Tamar to reduce the GHG emissions when the new Complex is in operation.

Ends/Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:46


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