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LCQ8: Policies to address climate change

     Following is a question by Hon Cyd Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (November 4):


     Governments around the world are committed to developing policies to address climate change, and the United Nations will convene the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Copenhagen Conference) in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18 this year to discuss details of the agreement on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions after 2012.  As the Convention has been extended to Hong Kong through the Central People's Government since 2003, Hong Kong is obliged to keep pace with the international community in striving for emission reduction so as to mitigate climate change.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the Inter-departmental Working Group on Climate Change (Working Group) under the lead of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) started an 18-month consultancy study on climate change at the end of March 2008, when the authorities will release the findings of the study and conduct public consultation;

(b) given that the mitigation of climate change involves many policy areas, including environment, development, economy and social welfare, etc., whether the authorities will upgrade the Working Group to a strategic group and place it under the lead of the Chief Secretary for Administration instead, so as to better coordinate the related work of the various bureaux and government departments;

(c) given that the Central People's Government promulgated the China National Plan for Coping with Climate Change as early as 2007, and the various provinces on the Mainland also rolled out provincial-level plans in 2008, when the authorities will develop and introduce comprehensive policies to address climate change, and of the relevant details;

(d) given that the information provided by EPD indicates that the total emissions and per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in Hong Kong have been on the rise since 1999, whether the authorities have evaluated whether their targets set earlier to achieve a reduction in energy intensity of at least 25% by 2030 from the 2005 level are able to reflect the actual situation; whether they will set targets that are more meaningful and actually reflect the emissions reduced;

(e) given that the data from the Hong Kong Observatory indicate that the annual mean temperature in Hong Kong has been rising, with the temperature in urban areas rising at a rate far greater than that in the rural areas, and that the annual mean temperature is estimated to rise by 4.8 C by the end of this century, what measures the authorities will introduce to reduce the annual mean temperature in urban areas by 2 C; and

(f) given the importance of the Copenhagen Conference in mitigating climate change, whether the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will delegate senior officials to attend the Conference and report the preparatory work and the outcome to this Council before and after the Conference?



(a) To further enhance our efforts in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change, the Administration commenced a consultancy study on climate change in March 2008.  The study, expected to conclude in early 2010, seeks to review and update the local inventories of GHG emissions and removals; characterize the impacts of climate change in Hong Kong; and make recommendations to the Administration for formulating long-term measures for Hong Kong to mitigate GHG emissions as well as to adapt to climate change; etc.  The consultants will conduct stakeholder engagement before completion of the study report.

(b) To formulate and take forward measures to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, the Administration has established an Inter-departmental Working Group on Climate Change (the Working Group) under the lead of the Environment Bureau.  It comprises representatives from five bureaux and 16 departments.  We consider the current composition of the Working Group appropriate, is fully capable of effectively managing, coordinating and promoting actions to address climate change and reduce GHG emissions.

(c) & (d) The Government attaches great importance to the climate change issue and is committed to taking effective actions to reduce GHG emissions.  In respect of our emissions reduction target, alongside some other 20 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Hong Kong has adopted the ¡§APEC Leaders¡¦ Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development¡¨ as announced at the APEC Leaders¡¦ Meeting held in Sydney in September 2007.  We pledged to reduce our energy intensity by at least 25% by 2030 from the 2005 level.  To underscore our commitment, the Chief Executive reaffirmed in the 2007 Policy Address that Hong Kong would endeavour to achieve this target.  Fully achieving this target in 2030 will avoid emission of approximately 20 million tonnes of GHG every year.

     As a service-based economy, Hong Kong is a relatively small GHG emitter.  Our level of emissions per capita is considerably lower than most of developed economies.  Since Hong Kong does not have any energy-intensive industries, the energy sector (mainly power plants) is the principal source of GHG emissions.  It is followed by the transportation sector, contributing about 16% of the total emissions.  Other emission sources include the waste sector, industrial processing and agriculture, etc.  In terms of end-uses, buildings consume about 89% of total electricity in Hong Kong.  Taking account of the local situation, the strategy being carried out to control local GHG emissions is mainly therefore premised on improving the overall energy efficiency (in particular building energy efficiency) and using cleaner fuels.

     A host of measures have been set in train to reduce our level of GHG emissions. These include implementation of the Buildings Energy Efficiency Funding Scheme and the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labeling Scheme; setting up a district cooling system at the future Kai Tak Development; banning the construction of coal-fired power generating units; and providing economic incentives to encourage development of renewable energy sources; etc.  At the same time, policy measures are being pursued to address GHG emissions from other major emission sources including the transportation sector and landfills.  These include continuously extending the coverage of the public transport system (in particular the railway network), promoting the use of electric vehicles, and enhancing the utilization of landfill gas as alternative fuels.  Through the above-mentioned strategies and measures, we are confident that the target of reducing energy intensity by at least 25% from the 2005 level will be achieved by 2030.

(e) The rise of average temperature in Hong Kong is related to the increase in global mean surface temperature.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report published in 2007, joint actions across the globe are required to avoid a continued increase in the global mean surface temperature.  As a member of the global village, Hong Kong will continue to support and participate in international efforts to tackle climate change.

(f) Although Hong Kong is not a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention), representatives from the Administration had joined as members of the Chinese delegation to Conferences of Parties to the Convention in the past.  As for the fifteenth session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention to be held in Copenhagen in December this year, the Secretary for the Environment will participate at the Conference as a member of the Chinese delegation, as compared to the previous occasions which were attended by officials of professional and directorate grades.  We briefed the Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs on November 2 the Administration¡¦s preparation for the Conference.  According to past practice, the Secretariat of the Convention will disseminate, through various media, information on the progress of the Conference and consensus reached by Parties during and after the session.

Ends/Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:53


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