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LCQ5: Government departments' work on moving towards carbon neutrality
       Following is a question by the Hon Gary Zhang and a reply by the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, in the Legislative Council today (May 10):
       There are views that with the global climate crisis looming, it is incumbent upon the Government to make government departments contribute more and to adopt more vigorous decarbonisation policies and measures, so as to become the pioneer, forerunner and leader of carbon neutrality in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that the Government will adopt a "whole-government" strategic approach in moving towards carbon neutrality, whether the relevant work includes regularly reviewing the amount of carbon emission, amount of electricity consumption, amount of fuel oil consumption, driving mileage, waste load and the amount of water consumption within the Government, as well as the effectiveness of other environmental protection work; whether the Commissioner for Climate Change will be responsible for co-ordinating the relevant work, and assist various government departments in setting goals and roadmaps for achieving carbon neutrality, and consolidate and make public the relevant data of various departments;
(2) of the total amount of electricity consumption arising from the Government's overall operation (including the amount of such consumed electricity which was generated by renewable energy) and the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions for the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 financial years, together with a breakdown by government department; and
(3) given that the Government will improve the overall energy performance of government buildings and infrastructure by more than 6 per cent, whether the Government has established uniform standards for the relevant work to ensure that various government departments are heading towards the same goal, and whether it will set a more aggressive goal?
       To reduce Hong Kong's carbon emissions by half before 2035 as compared to the 2005 level in order to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050, the Government announced the Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2050 in October 2021. It sets out the four major decarbonisation strategies and measures, namely net-zero electricity generation, energy saving and green buildings, green transport and waste reduction. These measures aim to tackle the three largest sources of carbon emissions in Hong Kong, i.e. electricity generation, transport and waste which accounts for around 60 per cent, 20 per cent and 10 per cent of the total emissions.
       In order to achieve deep decarbonisation and the goal of carbon neutrality, in addition to formulating territory-wide policies, the Government has adopted a "whole-government" approach in managing the operation of government departments and has taken forward various measures in our bid to achieve decarbonisation. The Environment and Ecology Bureau (EEB) established the post of the Commissioner for Climate Change (the Commissioner) in January this year, i.e. Mr Wong sitting next to me (The Acting Commissioner for Climate Change, Mr Wong Chuen-fai), to lead the Office of Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality (the Climate Office) to strengthen co-ordination and promote deep decarbonisation. Major tasks include taking forward and co-ordinating the Government's strategies, policies and action plans for combating climate change.
       My reply to the question raised by the Hon Gary Zhang is as follows:
(1) To enhance the environmental performance of government departments, the Government has promulgated relevant internal circulars and guidelines to require departments to perform well in the area of environmental protection in their daily operations. Specifically, these circulars cover measures to conserve energy, and to promote the adoption of renewable energy (RE), waste reduction and recycling, installation of electric vehicle charging facilities, as well as water conservation and recycling, etc. with a view to reducing carbon emissions, and enhancing indoor air quality management and environmental management, etc. These government circulars and guidelines cover environmental targets for government buildings, carbon emission management, preparation of environmental reports by government departments, as well as green procurement, etc.
       Carbon audit provides a systematic and scientific approach to account for and report on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from buildings and identify areas of improvement, with a view to reducing or offsetting GHG emissions arising from buildings. To assist government bureaux and departments (B&Ds) in setting emission reduction targets and implementing emission reduction measures in a more scientific way, the Government promulgated in 2017 the "Carbon Management in Government Buildings" circular which requires all major government buildings to undergo regular carbon audits, the results of which should be disclosed to the public through the publication of annual environmental performance reports or other means. All B&Ds should prepare environmental performance reports according to "A Guide to Environmental Reporting" published by the Environmental Protection Department. The reports should cover carbon audit results of major government buildings, environmental impact and improvement targets of their operation, as well as green procurement, etc. The work of the Commissioner includes co-ordinating the review and updating of relevant carbon management guidelines for the purpose of helping B&Ds achieve deep decarbonisation.
        Owing to the differences in nature and operating conditions of various B&Ds, it would be difficult to formulate a one-size-fits-all decarbonisation solution that is applicable to all departments. The Government is currently conducting a three-year (from 2020/21 to 2022/23) carbon audit on some 250 government buildings to systematically collect and compile the activity data of the relevant emission sources, with a view to identifying more carbon reduction opportunities. The carbon audit is still under way and is expected to complete in Q3 this year. The Government will analyse and announce the results of the carbon audit in due course. The Commissioner will also lead the Climate Office to work with relevant departments and assist B&Ds in formulating suitable decarbonisation strategies having regard to the outcome of the carbon audit and the operating environment of each department, with a view to helping the departments achieve the carbon neutrality target.
(2) The carbon emissions and energy use of various government departments are generally announced in the departments' annual environmental performance reports or other means. We have not provided the breakdown for individual departments because not all data are suitable for public disclosure due to the nature of the work of the departments. The differences in the work and the operating environment of various departments have also rendered it inappropriate to compare such figures.
       Based on the data compiled preliminarily, the overall energy usage of the Government (including electricity, towngas, liquefied petroleum gas, RE, etc.) were 3.015 billion kWh and 3.009 billion kWh in 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively, using the comparable operating conditions in 2018/19 as the base year; with the RE herein being 109 million kWh and 120 million kWh respectively. The GHG emissions from the above overall energy usage of the Government in 2020/21 and 2021/22 were approximately 1 470 kT and 1 461 kT CO2-e respectively.
 (3) The 2022 Policy Address states that the Government would strive to improve the overall energy performance of government buildings and infrastructure by more than six per cent by 2024/25. Apart from energy saving, the energy performance of RE projects will also be taken into account. This is to explore new energy sources while reducing energy consumption. However, owing to the differences in the work nature of and the services provided by different government departments, their energy demand and room for energy saving could be vastly different. It would not be appropriate to impose on all government departments a uniform standard and target for energy use.
        In order to achieve the improvement of more than six per cent in the overall energy performance of government buildings and infrastructure, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) is conducting energy audits (i.e. systematic reviews of the energy consuming equipment/systems in buildings to identify energy management opportunities) for about 250 government buildings, and encourages government departments to actively implement the energy saving measures recommended in the audit report. We also encourage them to install RE systems in their premises so as to improve energy performance. In addition, the EMSD requests B&Ds to provide information on the energy consumption and RE of government buildings and facilities each year, in order to review their energy performance. The EMSD also organises briefing sessions every year to communicate with B&Ds on energy performance, and provide suggestions on energy saving measures and planning of RE projects. 
        The Government had already achieved a saving of about 7.8 per cent electricity in government buildings from 2015/16 to 2019/20. Since B&Ds had already implemented various energy saving measures, further enhancing energy performance would become more challenging. Nonetheless, based on the data compiled preliminarily, the Government's overall energy performance had improved by about 3.2 per cent up to 2021/22. We are therefore confident that the target of more than six per cent can be achieved within five years (i.e. by 2024/25). We will continue to set targets in future and promote energy saving and decarbonisation within government departments.
        Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:00
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