Hong Kong welcomes Mainland's 10 measures to reduce air pollution

     The Hong Kong SAR Government welcomed the State Council's release of 10 measures to help reduce air pollution today (September 12). The measures set out clear targets to reduce air pollution in China through multi-pronged, short and long-term initiatives that exceed measures laid out in the 12th Five Year Plan. They should contribute to the improvement of regional air quality in the Pearl River Delta (PRD).

     Some of the measures are relevant to the Pearl River Delta region, where Hong Kong can contribute under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. The HKSAR Government's "A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong", published in March 2013, provides a good base to strengthen collaboration with Guangdong Province and Macau.

     The measures call for further action on the Mainland in respect of implementing desulfurisation and denitrification technologies, improving fuel quality, increasing the use of cleaner energy, promoting cleaner production to reduce industrial emission of air pollutants, and the establishment of regional joint mechanisms to prevent and control air pollutants, including the control of fine suspended particulates (PM2.5) in the PRD to improve air quality.

     Hong Kong has already imposed stringent emission caps on its power plants, where desulphurising and denitrifying technologies have been implemented, resulting in the substantial reduction of pollutant emissions. Hong Kong is also conducting a review of the fuel mix for power generation and seeks to strike a balance among the energy policy objectives of safety, reliability, affordability and environmental protection. A public consultation is planned for later this year. Hong Kong will also mandate the use of cleaner marine fuel for local vessels, as well as for ocean-going vessels to switch to a cleaner fuel while at berth in the city.

     Hong Kong and Guangdong Province have a long history as well as a strong foundation on collaboration to improve regional air quality, including:

(a) The PRD Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network set up in November 2005 - China's first regional network. It enables the Guangdong and Hong Kong authorities to track air pollution trends and the effectiveness of control measures.

(b) The achievement of emission reduction targets between 1997 and 2010 covering emissions from power plants, motor vehicles and industrial processes in the PRD; and

(c) The agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong Province in November 2012 of a new set of air emission reduction targets to be achieved by 2015 and 2020.

     In addition, Hong Kong has been implementing a Cleaner Production Partnership Programme with the support of Guangdong Province since April 2008. The Programme aims to encourage and assist Hong Kong-owned factories in Guangdong and Hong Kong to adopt cleaner production technologies and practices. The Programme sets a good example in the reduction of pollution through regional collaboration.

     Tackling air pollution in the PRD region as a whole requires the strengthening of collaboration among regional partners. Hong Kong plays an important part in regional co-operation together with Guangdong and Macau in the establishment of regional joint mechanisms to prevent and control air pollutants, including the control of PM2.5, in the PRD.

Ends/Thursday, September 12, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:18