Hong Kong sees small dip in greenhouse gas emissions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 4:05am

Greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong have fallen slightly due to a switch to cleaner fuel by power companies, the latest official figures show.

But green groups say there is still room for improvement in the emissions per person and the government should think of more ways of saving energy to bring these down further.

The 2010 "greenhouse gas inventory" released by the Environmental Protection Department yesterday showed that total emissions of the gases, which contribute to global warming, amounted to 41,500 kilotonnes, a fall of 2.8 per cent from the previous year. It was the lowest level recorded since 2005.

Electricity generation remained the largest contributor, accounting for 66 per cent, followed by transport, 17.8 per cent.

Prentice Koo Wai-muk, of Greenpeace, said the slight decline should be attributed to the switch to using more natural gas than coal in power plants.

But he said it was only a minor improvement and the level of emissions per person - 5.6 tonnes in 2010 - was a useful reference.

"The per capita emission has been around six tonnes since 2003. There's a lot to be done to change people's energy consumption patterns. The government should further encourage people to consume less electricity," Koo said.

Emissions per head hit the lowest level in 1999 at five tonnes, but since then have steadily climbed and exceeded six in 2005. New York recorded 6.5 tonnes per person in 2010.

But Koo said it was not meaningful to compare Hong Kong with other places because of differences in economic structure.

Friends of the Earth (HK) senior environmental affairs officer Frances Yeung Hoi-shan echoed the need to curb demand.

"I'm not talking about switching to nuclear power. There's still plenty of room for energy saving," she said. "Take light pollution. Shopping malls should switch off external lighting and lights for signboards."

The reduced emissions were attributed to clean-air measures by power generators.

Emission-control equipment was installed in 2010 at CLP Power's coal-burning Castle Peak station.

But the reduction in the company's carbon dioxide emissions intensity - emissions for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated - was mainly the result of CLP Power using more gas and less coal. The emission intensity in 2010 was 0.53kg of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour, down from 0.56kg in 2009.