League of Democrats have 'greenest' policies, manifestos show

Environmentalists say pan-democratic radicals have the most comprehensive energy policy, and Liberals and New People's Party the least

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2012, 3:20am


Environmental groups have ranked the radical pan-democratic League of Social Democrats as the "greenest" in the upcoming election.

According to a joint study conducted by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace last week the party has the most comprehensive energy policy in its election platform.

The Liberal Party and the New People's Party were ranked the worst. The study found the two parties did not touch on energy issues at all in their platforms.

The two green groups scoured the election platforms of 11 of the political parties fielding candidates in the Legislative Council election on September 9. They looked specifically at five areas: a review of the scheme of control agreements with the two power companies; energy-saving measures; fuel mixes for electricity generation; interconnection of CLP Power and Hongkong Electric networks; and subsidies for electricity use.

The League of Social Democrats touched on three of the areas. It proposed reviewing the scheme of control agreements to peg electricity tariff rises to inflation and also called for a long-term energy policy and the introduction of more competition.

Other parties mainly touched on one area.

The Civic Party, a vocal advocate of environmental protection, originally supported an HK$1,800-a-year electricity subsidy for each household as part of its platform. But the party withdrew the proposal after being approached by the green groups.

The environmentalists oppose idea of subsidising electricity, saying it encourages people to use more power and will "divert money to the power companies".

"The results show that many of our political parties lack a comprehensive energy policy," Greenpeace senior campaigner Prentice Koo Wai-muk said. "They like to boast about limiting the profits of the power companies, but that is not the crux of the problem."

Koo said encouraging energy saving was more important.

Friends of the Earth senior environmental affairs officer Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung agreed. "It seems the politicians just like to make some criticisms when the power companies propose tariff increases. But they fail to look at the issue from a broader view," she said.

Citing fuel mixes as an example, Chau said that using more natural gas to generate electricity would inevitably raise tariffs.

She said she was pleased with the Civic Party's U-turn on subsidising electricity. Hongkong Electric supplies power to Hong Kong Island, Ap Lei Chau and Lamma, while CLP Power supplies Kowloon, the New Territories, Lantau and other outlying islands.

Both are private companies and the government monitors them through the scheme of control agreements, under which their maximum permitted rate of return on average net fixed assets is 9.99 per cent.

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and WWF-Hong Kong, will host a forum on Friday on the future of Hong Kong's electricity market. Representatives of political parties are expected to attend and Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing will also address the forum.