Pollution transcends boundaries – this is especially
true of air pollution in the Greater Pearl River Delta.
According to the Environmental Protection Department, 80%
’s air pollution is contributed by emissions from the PRD.
Controlling air pollution in the PRD is a matter of
common interest for both jurisdictions.
to the Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network developed under
the Regional Air Quality Management Plan by the HKSAR and
Guangdong governments, we now know much more about regional
emissions in the PRD, whether they are from energy (power
generation), industry and transport, marine or aviation sources.
However, even if the controls on emissions are fully
implemented, given that the economic development of the PRD is
proceeding at a scale never before seen, we may only be playing
a catching-up game, with no assurance that the environmental
quality of the PRD would improve.
With the year 2010 rapidly approaching, there is an
urgent need to re-assess the long-term environmental strategy
and the PRD, and to develop cross-jurisdictional solutions for
the long term sustainability of Greater PRD region post-2010.
A comprehensive cross-border solution will not be easy.
Critical to this will be the establishment of a transparent regulatory infrastructure and its
addition, we would like to make a few suggestions in this paper,
First, and more immediately, the HKSAR and
governments should further develop the emission trading scheme.
Emissions trading helps attain
any given emission target efficiently, but in itself does not
lead to reduced emissions. Hence it is important to implement
emissions trading as part of under a “cap and trade” regime
in which the “caps” (i.e. the allowable total amount of
emission) are periodically lowered and then trading
takes place to allocate the reduced total among those
in the trading scheme.
We note that the HKSAR government has recently introduced
a Bill establishing caps and facilitating emissions trading.
We welcome this introduction of market-based instruments
’s regulatory “toolkit”. Given
that the Mainland has already introduced emission trading in a
number of provinces since 2003, we do not see the need for
The possibility of extending emission trading regime to
cover also carbon emissions should be explored, and potential
synergies with the Clean Development Mechanism examined.
said that, target setting must be based on sound science
and cost-benefits analysis, taking account of the region’s
of emission reduction as well as the need for economic development.
Secondly, and as a matter of priority, emissions controls
should be instituted on coal-fired power plants that do not have
it already, throughout the whole region.
More directly, the governments of both sides could work
together to find a mutually acceptable way to establish a
moratorium on building any new coal-fired factories in the PRD
noting that this has been in place in Hong Kong since 1997.
Thirdly, the business sectors of Hong Kong and
must be properly engaged in the pollution abatement.
Already factories in the PRD are feeling the pressure of
tightening of emission regulations; some were banished by the
Guangdong Government and unfortunately quite a few of these
factories are Hong Kong-owned.
The $93 million “cleaner production” programme
announced in the Policy Address and to be implemented by the
Hong Kong Productivity Council is a welcome scheme that will
help factories adopt clean technologies. The
Chamber fully supports this scheme and would be happy to
contribute to its management and promotion.
As the environmental and economic objectives of the Hong
governments are increasingly aligned, there is an opportunity to
develop sustainable solutions to benefit both sides, for
instance, by extending the cleaner production programme and
projects like the Chamber’s Clean Air Charter more extensively
across the border.
The idea of an “environmental compact” for Greater
PRD investors can also be explored.
Although it is the private sector which will be signing
charters or undertaking clean production programmes, government
promotion would be essential if this were to become an effective
campaign across the border.
For the private sector, there is also the opportunity to
“turn the table” on pollution abatement: to find new
opportunities amidst the challenges.
Although the Mainland itself has developed rather
advanced technological capabilities in environmental
businesses still have a role in bringing foreign capital and
technologies to help contribute to sustainable development of
the country. (11)
As one foresees more environmental regulations, the
compliance regime needs to be strengthened, whether for
regulating the emission trading schemes, enforcing new measures
on emission reduction, or implementing future policies on
closure, relocation or subsidies.
To that end, a data set on stack emission, both in
Guangdong and in Hong Kong, should be compiled and shared by
both sides, to enable total emission loading and total effects
to be understood and hence the appropriate trading and
regulatory regime designed.
Finally, riding on the success of CEPA, the Mainland and
should consider developing a “CEnPA” – Closer
Environmental Partnership Arrangement.
This can be used to facilitate sustainable development
and environmental improvement in both jurisdictions.
Under the Arrangement, both sides may put forward
“requests” and “offers” on environmental actions such as
cleaner fuel, cooperation on trade in waste, development of
water resources, aid for industry, and of course, emission
reduction. A CEnPA framework would
also be a useful platform to test out innovative policy ideas
such as a regional fund to cover pollution abatement in the PRD
by an energy tax or emission surcharge.
Many possibilities may be considered; the key is to use
the unique “One Country, Two Systems” set-up to engender
creative policy solutions that benefit both sides.