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Guangdong and Hong Kong release mid-term review results on PRD air pollutant emission reduction targets for 2015 and 2020
     The Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection (JWGSDEP) today (December 15) released the results of the mid-term review study on emission reduction targets of air pollutants in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, which concluded the achievements of emission reduction in 2015 and finalised the reduction targets for 2020.

     At the JWGSDEP meeting in November 2012, the Hong Kong and Guangdong Governments endorsed emission reduction targets for 2015 and emission reduction ranges of four major air pollutants for 2020, namely sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), respirable suspended particulates (RSP or PM10) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), adopting 2010 as the base year.

     According to the mid-term study results, both Guangdong and Hong Kong have achieved their respective 2015 reduction targets for SO2, NOx, RSP and VOC (as shown in Annex 1). The emission levels of major air pollutants in Hong Kong in 2015 decreased by 14 per cent to 45 per cent compared with 2010, while those in the PRD Economic Zone (PRDEZ) (Note) dropped by 11 per cent to 25 per cent. The emission reductions of SO2, RSP and VOC in Hong Kong and that of SO2 in the PRDEZ have far exceeded the targets. The 2015 Emission Inventory for Hong Kong can be found at the Environmental Protection Department’s website (www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/air/data/emission_inve.html).

     The emission reduction efforts of both places to improve the PRD regional air quality have reaped positive results. Despite the rapid socio-economic development of the region in recent years, the regional air quality has improved significantly. As a result of the reduction in air pollutant emissions, the concentrations of air pollutants have dropped considerably in the PRD. The monitoring results of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network show that the annual average concentrations of SO2, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and RSP in the PRD in 2015 dropped by 48 per cent, 23 per cent and 23 per cent respectively compared with 2010. Nevertheless, ozone formed by regional photochemical smog remains at a relatively high level. The two Governments will continue their efforts to reduce air pollutant emissions in order to continuously improve regional air quality.

     Having taken into account the current and committed emission reduction measures, the mid-term review study finalised the emission reduction targets for 2020 for both sides (as shown in Annex 2). Hong Kong will continue to co-operate with Guangdong Province to implement further control measures according to the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan, in order to meet the emission reduction targets for 2020.

     The key emission reduction measures implemented by Hong Kong include:

* requiring power plants to increase the use of natural gas in electricity generation;
* imposing and progressively tightening emission caps for power plants;
* tightening vehicle emission standards to Euro VI;
* continuing to phase out pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles;
* collaborating with the Guangdong Provincial Government on the implementation of a domestic emission control area (DECA) in PRD waters as well as mandating vessels to use low-sulphur fuel in Hong Kong waters;
* controlling VOC content in solvents used in the printing industry and printing machine cleaning agents; and
* tightening in phases VOC content in architectural paint.

     The key emission reduction measures implemented by Guangdong include:

* controlling the pollutant emissions of coal-fired thermal power plants and implementing ultra-low emission modifications of coal-fired generating units with power of 300 000 kilowatts or above;
* taking forward the comprehensive emission treatment of highly polluting boilers and strengthening emission monitoring of various industrial boilers and kilns to ensure stable and up-to-standard emissions; 
* advancing the implementation of National VI emission standards for motor vehicles in the PRD;
* strongly promoting the use of new energy vehicles, which Shenzhen will use to fully electrify public transport by 2017, while Guangzhou and Foshan have already implemented electrification for newly acquired public vehicles  from 2017 onwards. For newly acquired or replacement public vehicles in other regions of the PRD, the ratio of pure electric vehicles should not be less than 90 per cent;
* enhancing VOC control by regulating 13 major industries associated with sources of VOC including the petrochemical, furniture and printing industries;
* strengthening emission control at source including fugitive dust control for works and roads, enhancing the comprehensive utilisation of crop straw and forbidding straw burning in particular areas and at particular times, as well as stepping up cooking emission controls for the catering industry; and
* establishing a DECA in PRD waters and progressively implementing the use of low-sulphur fuel for vessels navigating, berthing and operating within the DECA in accordance with requirements.

     Regarding the next phase of the emission reduction plan, the two Governments will jointly form a scientific research team to discuss regional air pollution reduction co-operation beyond 2020, including the launch of a study on post-2020 air pollutant emission reduction targets and concentration levels for Hong Kong and Guangdong, in order to continuously improve regional air quality and protect public health.

Note: The Pearl River Delta Economic Zone (PRDEZ) includes Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Foshan, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing.
Ends/Friday, December 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:01
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