Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department Pledge involve a series of movements to positively impact the environment. In November 2015, the Government launched the “Hong Kong Climate Change Report 2015”, which outlines the efforts of the Government and the private sector in responding to climate change. With the positive outcome of the Paris Climate Conference held in December 2015, Hong Kong is prepared to make greater efforts to combat climate change.
Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) was first established in 1986 with primary goals to aid environmental issues. In April 2005, the Environment Branch of the then Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, which was responsible for environmental policy making, merged with the EPD enabling EPD to both determine and implement environmental policies. 1 July 2007 saw a new Environment Bureau which oversaw the formulation and implementation of policies on environmental protection, conservation, energy and sustainable development, etc. The department is segmented into 11 divisions being: Environmental Assessment, Environmental Compliance, Water Policy, Waste Management Policy, Waste Management (Special Duties), Nature Conservation and Infrastructure Planning, Environmental Infrastructure, Waste Reduction and Recycling, Air Policy, Cross-Boundary and International and Corporate Affairs. These are responsible for duties regarding environmental impact assessment, law enforcement regarding issues such as pollution, water quality management, waste management, public engagement programmes, nature conservation, planning, developing and operating waste management facilities, implementing waste reduction programmes, air quality management, liaisons with international relations concerning environmental concerns, and human resources management (HRM).
The project aims to deal with many of the individual aspects encouraging climate change; One of these include planning against pollution. Enforcement of the 10 pollution control legislation is being issued by EPD which limits air pollution caused by vehicle emissions, power plant emissions, and marine emissions. Considerable emphasis is placed on preventing environmental problems by applying environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures to ensure that environmental factors are considered at all stages of project planning and development. To tackle air pollution caused by vehicle emissions, the Government is implementing several programmes such as introducing stringent vehicle fuel and emission standards that are practical and commercially viable, and exploring clean alternatives to diesel vehicles, strengthening vehicle emissions inspection and tightening the control on smoky vehicles. For example, the government aim to reduce emissions given off by diesel fuel with the introduction of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). All newly registered taxis must use LPG or unleaded petrol, and now almost all taxis are fuelled by LPG. The incentive scheme to encourage diesel public light buses to switch to LPG or electric light buses was completed by the end 2005 with around 69 per cent of public light buses now running on LPG. The Smoky Vehicle Control programme started in September 2014 which strengthened control of emissions from petrol and LPG vehicles by using roadside remote sensing equipment and chassis dynamometers for emission testing. Furthermore, in March 2011, the Government set up a $300 million Pilot Green Transport Fund to incentivise trials of green and innovative technologies applicable to the public transport sector and goods vehicles. Moreover, The Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance which introduced a statutory prohibition against idling vehicles with running engines came into operation in December 2011. In addition, the Government has been promoting a wider use of electric vehicles, such as encouraging franchised bus companies to try out hybrid and electric buses.
Air pollution control is managed via the Air Pollution Control Ordinance. Major emitters, such as power plants and cement plants have been designated stringent licensing controls. Emission caps have been imposed on all power stations through licence conditions since 2005. Amendments to the Ordinance have enabled the stipulation of emission caps for the power sector by a Technical Memorandum (TM). Five TMs were issued between 2008 and 2015 in order to tighten emission caps. To further reduce air pollutants, limits are imposed on the sulphur content of fuels sold in Hong Kong. All commercial and industrial processes are required to use ultra-low sulphur diesel under an amendment regulation that became effective in October 2008. Control on usage of asbestos has resulted a ban in the use, supply, import or transhipment of all types of asbestos since 4 April 2014. To promote good indoor air quality (IAQ), an IAQ Management Programme has also been introduced where specific premises such as Offices and Public Places can be awarded an IAQ certificate for meeting IAQ requirements; This serves as a motivator to achieve clean air.
Hong Kong has joined the global effort to protect our Ozone Layer through enforcement of the Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance. Recent obligations have caused Hong Kong to commence the ban of imported products that use HCFCs from January 2010, with intentions to place a full ban on all such products by 2020.
The government have also placed control on marine emissions. These include implementing MARPOL Annex VI requirements and controlling vessel smoke emissions by legislation. In April 2014 the quality of local marine diesel was upgraded, and ocean-going vessels switched to cleaner fuel while berthing in July 2015 by legislation. Hong Kong is the first port in Asia to introduce the fuel switch requirement. Hong Kong is collaborating with the Ministry of Transport and the Guangdong authorities in their mission to establish marine emission control area in the Pearl River Delta waters. The Dumping at Sea Ordinance also restricts marine dumping activities subject to the requirements under the London Convention.
Issues with Waste disposal are being controlled through the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) which sort the collection, treatment, and disposal of all waste types. The ordinance enables permit control on import and export of waste in line with the requirements under the Basel Convention; from April 2006, importing hazardous waste from developed countries was banned. Furthermore, waste producers are required to pay a fee for waste treatment under the principle: “polluter pays”. private sector users of refuse transfer stations are also required to pay for the service. The same principle is applied in regard to the disposal of construction waste in order to maximise resources recovery, re-use inert materials and minimise their disposal at landfills.
The Government aims to also reduce the per capita disposal rate of municipal solid waste (MSW) which is currently higher than Asian cities with similar economic development. They aim to reduce disposal to 1 kg or less by 2017, and to 0.8 kg or less by 2022. They intend to achieve this through policies and legislation as well as campaigns to promote waste reduction; and to allocate resources such as including organic waste treatment facilities, waste-to-energy integrated waste management facilities and landfill extensions. One of the schemes implemented was the “Food Wise Eateries” Scheme in November 2015 which encouraged food places such as restaurants and cafes to offer food portioning options so that their customers could reduce food waste.
The Water Pollution Control Ordinance has enabled the resurrection of 10 Water Control Zones as well as four supplementary Water Control Zones to cover the whole area of Hong Kong. All discharges into these zones have been subject to licensing control. A Technical Memorandum of Effluent Standards provides transparency in setting licence limits. They are designed to enable achievement of the Water Quality Objectives.
The Noise Control Ordinance was established in order to control noise from construction sites, domestic premises and public places, industrial and commercial premises, motor vehicles, intruder alarm systems as well as specified noisy equipment. A permit system has been issued to maintain control over general construction works at night and on public holidays which has essentially banned non-essential noisy construction works in built-up areas. Also, all percussive piling works require a permit and are forbidden for use at night and during public holidays; Noisy diesel, steam and pneumatic piling hammers are no longer in use within built-up areas. Moreover, Hand-held breakers and air compressors must comply with strict standards in regards to noise emissions and are fitted with noise emission labels. The management of bodies corporate will assume responsibility to all repeated noise offences. Whilst noise from industrial or commercial premises is controlled by the EPD through noise abatement notices, noise from domestic and public places are managed by the police. Noise emission standards also apply to newly registered vehicles including motorcycles and vehicles must meet requirements set out.
A sewage disposal strategy has been adopted by the Government and 16 sewerage master plans (SMPs) devised to cover the whole territory. The Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) has been inputted to handle sewage generated from all districts around Victoria Harbour Area. The aim of this project is to improve the overall water quality. Phase 1 of the project began in 2001 and commissioning of Stage 2A in December 2015. As of September 2015, a population of about 130 700 in the rural areas has been connected to public sewers, and thus, the sewerage system is being extended to serve more of these areas.
In order to monitor progress of schemes, EPD have introduced environmental monitoring schemes and specific investigation. These include: Water quality monitoring which consists of 82 routinely-sampled stations for inland waters, 94 for marine waters and 60 for bottom sediments. EPD also monitors the water quality of 41 gazetted beaches during the bathing season, reporting beach water quality on a weekly basis. Air pollutant levels are measured continuously at 12 general and three roadside monitoring stations. EPD launched a health risk-based Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) on 30 December 2013 which informs the public of the short-term health risk of air pollution. This Information is released every hour via the internet, mobile app and telephone hotline. Also, Surveys of waste generation throughout Hong Kong have been conducted since 1981 to collect information needed for planning future waste disposal facilities.
The Government has been collaborating with the Guangdong authorities in tackling regional environmental issues. The governments of Guangdong and Hong Kong signed an Environmental Co-operation Agreement in August 2009, including key co-operation areas in regional air and water quality; nature conservation and green business development etc. The two governments have been working together to combat issues regarding climate change, aiming to produce a more eco-friendly environment across the regions.