Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Hong Kong greenhouse gas emissions rise for second year in a row

Ernest Kao

New figures show a continuing upward trend, even as other cities decrease their discharge

The city’s total greenhouse gas emissions rose for the second year in a row in 2012, amounting to some 43 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, new government figures show.

Hongkongers produced about six tonnes per person, about the same as the year before but up from 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Department’s latest greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, absorb infrared radiation and trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, which leads to global warming.

The city saw a 300,000-tonne increase in 2012 from 2011, which the US Environmental Protection Agency’s calculator indicates is equivalent to what 700,000 barrels of oil or 63,000 passenger vehicles would emit in a year. It was an increase of 0.2 tonnes per capita.

Electricity generation, transport and other fuel uses still comprised the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, although slight reductions in the first two categories were recorded. Greenhouse gas from waste management, which accounts for 5 per cent of all emissions, rose by 50,000 tonnes.

Energy intensity – the quantity of energy needed to produce a unit of gross domestic product – appears to have held steady, however. Last month, the government set a target of cutting energy intensity by 40 per cent by 2025 from 2005 levels.

unnamed (2)

The study found carbon intensity remained level in the three years to 2012 at 0.021kg per Hong Kong dollar unit of gross domestic product.

Greenpeace campaigner Yeung Man-yau said it was worrying to see greenhouse gas emissions still on a rising trend over the last two decades, as they have been on the decline in other cities such as New York and Taipei.

The 43 million tonnes produced in 2012 is similar to the level recorded in 1992. Emissions saw a sharp drop between 1993 and 1994, as the Daya Bay nuclear power plant opened.

“Carbon emissions are still going up and the carbon intensity level does not seem to be going down too significantly,” Yeung said. “We still need to do more.”

Yeung said a 2010 consultation document on climate change strategy had proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 60 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

But it wasn’t until just this year that an energy saving blueprint and consultation document on the future of the electricity market was released, setting targets on energy intensity and what mix of fuel would be used in the future.

So far, greenhouse gas levels have increased since 2005.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *