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Environmental Protection and Conservation Policy Speech 2011

123.     I have advocated the concept of “Progressive Development” which attaches importance to environmental protection and heritage conservation while pursuing economic development.  This would provide our people with a quality city life.

Improving Air Quality

124.     We have done a great deal over the past few years to tackle major sources of local air pollution, ranging from electricity generation and fuel combustion to emissions from vehicles and vessels.  To further improve air quality, we will next focus on reducing roadside air pollution.

Environment-friendly Buses

125.     To improve roadside air quality, we must reduce emissions from large buses.  We are conducting trials of retrofitting Euro II and Euro III franchised buses with catalytic reduction devices to reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions.  Subject to the test results, we will retrofit all these buses with such devices.

126.     Last year, I proposed to impose additional requirements in the new franchises for bus companies to switch to zero-emission buses or the most environment-friendly buses when replacing diesel buses due for retirement.  To prepare for the change, apart from encouraging the testing of hybrid buses, we will ask all franchised bus companies to test zero-emission electric buses as soon as possible.  I propose to earmark $180 million for franchised bus companies to purchase 36 electric buses for trial runs on a number of routes to assess their performance in different conditions.  If the test results are satisfactory, the Government will encourage franchised bus companies in a suitable way to use electric buses on a much larger scale, taking into account the affordability of the bus companies and passengers.

Enhancing Vehicle Maintenance

127.     Petrol and liquefied petroleum gas vehicles without proper maintenance will emit excessive colourless exhaust gases that increase the roadside concentration of nitrogen oxides.  We will introduce remote sensing equipment and advanced emission tests to control emissions from these vehicles.  We have also set aside $150 million to provide a one-off subsidy to owners of liquefied petroleum gas taxis and light buses for replacing catalytic converters in their vehicles, which will improve their green performance.

Clean Fuels for Vessels

128.     We will explore with the governments of Guangdong, Shenzhen and Macao proposals for requiring ocean-going vessels to switch to low-sulphur diesel while berthing in Pearl River Delta (PRD) waters, and setting up an Emission Control Area in PRD waters.  We will also study, in collaboration with the relevant trades, ways to improve the quality of vessel fuels sold locally to reduce vessel emissions.

Updating Hong Kong’s Air Quality Objectives

129.     We have consulted the public on updating our air quality objectives (AQOs) and the associated improvement measures.  The AQOs are statutory standards.  We will draw up the final recommendations for updating the AQOs and make a proposal to this Council.

Combating Global Warming

130.     Last year, we devised Hong Kong’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Agenda and proposed setting a target to reduce the carbon intensity level in Hong Kong by 50-60% by 2020 as compared with 2005.  We also suggested a number of emission reduction measures and are now seeking input from the community to improve energy efficiency and enhance the management of electricity demand.

131.     On the wider use of clean energy, we are consolidating views collected during public consultation.  In deciding the power generation fuel mix in the future, we will take into account the impact of the Fukushima incident earlier this year on nuclear energy development, and balance such factors as safety, reliability, environmental protection and affordability.

Nuclear Safety

132.     The Fukushima nuclear incident attracted global concern.  We should remain vigilant at all times.  We are undertaking a comprehensive review of the Daya Bay Contingency Plan.  A large-scale inter-departmental exercise with public participation will be conducted early next year to ensure the effectiveness of the Plan.

Harbour Water Quality

133.     Our efforts to improve harbour water quality over the years are producing results.  We have allocated $17 billion to collect and treat about 450 000 cubic metres of sewage currently discharged into the harbour each day.  When works are finished in 2014, the harbour’s water quality will improve even further.

134.     We advanced the construction of some disinfection facilities at the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works.  Following the commissioning of these facilities last year, the water quality in the western part of Victoria Harbour and Tsuen Wan beaches improved significantly.  The long-closed beaches in Tsuen Wan now meet the water quality objectives and are suitable for swimming.  Some have already been reopened.

Dongjiang Water Supply

135.     We are negotiating a new agreement on the supply of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong with the Guangdong authorities.  Our aim is to ensure a continuous, reliable and flexible supply of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong up to 2014.

Seawater Desalination

136.     As a responsible member of the PRD Economic Zone, we strive to explore other sources of water supply to meet our own needs.  We have kept abreast of the latest developments in desalination technology and prepared for the related planning and studies so that other water sources can be tapped in good time in case of water shortage.  We are conducting a detailed study and field surveys to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of building a medium-sized desalination plant.  A site has been reserved in Tseung Kwan O.

Solid Waste Management

137.     We have already raised the municipal solid waste recovery target to 55% by 2015.  To this end, we will expedite legislation for the early extension of the Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags to all retail shops, and for the introduction of a new Producer Responsibility Scheme for waste electrical and electronic equipment to encourage waste reduction at source.  We will also engage the public in discussions on possible options for municipal solid waste charging to provide a direct economic incentive to reduce waste.  The Government will launch district-based promotional activities, such as waste reduction and recycling, through the District Councils.

138.     We plan to adopt advanced technologies to treat non-recyclable waste.  Planning is underway for the construction of Integrated Waste Management Facilities and organic waste treatment facilities, as well as the extension of the existing landfills.  We intend to submit a funding proposal to this Council eNature and Heritage Conservation

139.     In the past few years, the land area under statutory protection has increased despite growing urban development.  At present, there are a total of 24 country parks and 22 special areas for nature conservation in Hong Kong, covering some 40% of our total land area.  The Hong Kong Geopark was included in the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) last month, which is a recognition of our conservation efforts.  The acceptance into the GGN makes the Hong Kong Geopark an international attraction for local and overseas visitors.  It will establish a model for the co-existence of conservation and development.

Ban on Trawling

140.     Legislation banning trawling in Hong Kong waters will commence operation next year.  This marks a significant step in the conservation of our marine environment and the promotion of sustainable fisheries.  We will put forward a bill in the current legislative session to set up a registration system for local fishing vessels and prohibit non-local fishing vessels from operating in Hong Kong waters to prevent over-exploitation.  The bill will also provide for the designation of fisheries protection areas to protect important fish spawning and nursery grounds.

Conserving Central

141.     Projects under the Conserving Central plan are making good progress.  After taking into account public views, we have revised the plan for the redevelopment of West Wing of the Central Government Offices, expanding the public open space to be provided and significantly reducing the scale of the shopping arcade in the new development.  Part of the new complex will be used to accommodate the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to enhance Central’s image as a core financial district.

arly next year.

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