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Speech by SEN at Eco Asia Conference (English only)(with photo)

     Following is the keynote speech by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, at the Eco Asia Conference this afternoon (October 29):

     Good afternoon, Dr Walter Steinmann, Director General Zhao (Hualin), Director General Gao (Yunhu), ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. I hope you have enjoyed the exhibition outside. And I am very pleased to join you to kick start the conference today. The main theme for this year is about green technology, covering green building, energy saving and also waste management. This three-day Conference consists of very diversified environmental themes including the subjects concerned. I am sure you will find the event, including the exhibitions and conferences, inspiring and useful.

     The Eco Expo is a great opportunity to network with government officials, not only from Hong Kong but also from Mainland China and other countries, including industry experts, scholars and other stakeholders to talk about how we can make Hong Kong, the region, and even the world greener and cleaner.

     Today, I would like to focus on the energy aspect, since Walter (Dr Walter Steinmann) is an expert on that. I would like to share with you firstly what the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government has been doing about the lawmaking and similar initiatives.

     I would highlight six aspects in Hong Kong. Firstly, Walter asked me whether in Hong Kong we have any standard or requirement for buildings in relation to energy. We introduced what we called the BEEO, the Building Energy Efficiency Ordinance earlier, that requires new buildings to follow certain standards, and they are looking at the air-conditioning, lighting and other electrical installations. That would also affect the major buildings subject to renovation. And also for existing buildings, they have to carry out an energy audit over a certain period of time. So, it is embracing the life cycle of buildings from the new ones, to the retrofitting ones and also the existing buildings.

     The second feature that I would like to highlight is called the MEELS - the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme, which is about air-conditioners, fridges, and similar home appliances that are major components affecting the energy use in the domestic sector. We are covering around 60 per cent of energy consumption in the residential sector through controlling these appliances. We are elevating the standards and extending its coverage over time.

     The third aspect is what we called the OTTV, the Overall Thermal Transfer Value. It is about the building envelopes thermal performance. In Hong Kong, in particular commercial buildings like these projects, hotels and shopping malls, the envelopes would greatly affect the use of air-conditioning. And that's the major, actually the biggest, energy sector consumption in Hong Kong's commercial buildings. So by regulating the envelopes, we can enhance the buildings' energy performance. And the new move is that we are going to extend the application from commercial buildings to domestic buildings starting from this month. But it is now used in terms of guidelines and to encourage application through incentives. We would provide extra floor area for those domestic buildings that are going to meet our guidelines, including the envelopes' control in relation to the domestic sector.

     The fourth aspect would be about the District Cooling System. We have a new district, called Kai Tak, which is over at the old airport, in the middle of our urban area. It is the first district where we are going to use the District Cooling System. Instead of individual air-conditioning systems, we would provide the territory-wide district system. That is about 20 to 30 per cent more energy efficient than the conventional air-conditioning systems.

     On top of that, we can free up the roof space of those buildings in Kai Tak so that the roofs could be used for greening, for PV (photovoltaic), renewable energy etc. And we can also use the seawater to cool the heat dissipated so that it can reduce the heat island effect that is a major concern in Hong Kong.

     The fifth is about green building labelling, similar to Switzerland where you have the green building labelling system for new buildings. Actually, Hong Kong is the first city in Asia that has this kind of green building labelling, and follows the United Kingdom. And we have a system evolving over time, and it is called BEAM Plus. It is a kind of Washington system particularly suitable for Hong Kong's particular context, given Hong Kong's high density context and also subtropical humid environment.

     Last but not least, we call it waste-to-energy. In Switzerland, you are having two per cent of your energy supply by using the waste-to-energy facility. In Hong Kong, we are going to increase our renewable energy proportion through the use of waste-to-energy. We just got approval from lawmakers that will turn the food waste into energy, and that will handle 200 tonnes per day. We are going to have a new plant that can handle 3,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste and turn it to energy. So, in Hong Kong, we are going to have at least one per cent of our total supply energy through waste-to-energy in the near future.

     So much for Hong Kong. I would like to turn our work in addressing the regional environmental problems. The rapid economic growth and internationalisation of the Pearl River Delta region has brought about environmental concerns or challenges in the region. This will affect Hong Kong as well in terms of air quality and other environmental challenges.

     As Hong Kong businessmen have invested more than 56 factories in the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong-owned enterprises can play an important role in reducing pollution through the adoption of cleaner and greener production technology and practices.

     To this end, the Hong Kong SAR Government has launched a five-year plan. We called it the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme (the Programme) in April 2008, in collaboration with the Economic and Information Commission of Guangdong Province. The Programme aims to promote adoption of cleaner production technologies and practices for reducing emissions and enhancing energy efficiency, thereby contributing to an improvement to regional air quality. We all know that the air quality issue is increasingly a concern in the region in our country. In light of the environmental benefits of the Programme and positive feedback from the industry, we have extended the Programme for another two years up to March 2015. To cover the entire Guangdong province, a total funding of around HK$143 million has been provided to implement the Programme. The Programme provides funding support to participating factories to carry out on site improvement assessments, and implement demonstration projects and engage third party verification services on the effectiveness of improvement projects. As at end-September 2014, over 2,400 funding applications totaling about HK$75 million had been approved. In addition, more than 360 awareness promotion activities have been organised, which attracted about 32,000 participants.

     While the Programme is primarily an awareness promotion and technical support initiative, it also brings about significant environmental and economic benefits to the Pearl River Delta region. It is estimated that the demonstration projects implemented under the Programme, together with other cleaner production measures implemented by the other participating factories at their own cost, have achieved significant reduction in the emission of key air pollutants. To cite some examples, the annual reduction of VOC, volatile organic compounds, was about 3,400 tonnes. In terms of sulphur dioxide (SO2), it has been reduced by more than 4,400 tonnes and the reduction for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) were 2,500 tonnes and 660,000 tonnes respectively. There was also annual reduction in effluent discharge by 10 million tonnes. So the annual energy saving as estimated also amounted to about 4,000 tera-joules and the annual savings in production costs are about HK$700 million. So we can see that it is very good pay back in terms of financial consideration.

     So I believe that the above policies on energy efficiency and clean production will not only provide opportunities for the environmental industry to expand their businesses in Hong Kong, but also serve as a very good stepping stone for them to enter the Mainland market. I understand that Walter, Dr Steinmann, is going to give us a very good update about what Switzerland has been doing. And following that the other speakers from the Mainland and also from Malaysia will share their experience and how the other stakeholders can help to make Hong Kong, the Mainland and other economies greener and cleaner.

     Lastly, I would like to invite you to join us at the Environment Bureau's Pavilion outside, which is focusing on two themes - one is green building and energy, the other is waste management. And the pavilion architecture is based on "waste less" and optimising the use of reusable and recyclable materials. So it is a very interesting pavilion. And lastly, I would like to highlight that in our Hong Kong Pavilion there is a video to summarise briefly what the Hong Kong SAR Government has been doing about green building, energy and waste management.

     I would like to end with that. This is our ninth Eco Expo Asia. And next year will be the opportunity for us to celebrate the 10th anniversary. So, I hope you all enjoy this event and find it useful and inspiring, and do come back next year, which will be even more eventful. Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 20:14


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