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Full switch to natural gas would help clear the air and rid city of polluting plants


Feb 12, 2012

Towngas (SEHK: 0003) proudly stated in its Sustainability Summary Report 2010 that as “a clean fossil fuel, natural gas improves air quality and mitigates climate change. Natural gas now accounts for about 60 per cent of our feedstock in Hong Kong.”

It is very pleasing to see that, since the introduction of natural gas in 2006, the emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide from producing 1 million megajoules of Towngas in 2010 have been reduced by 22 per cent, 44 per cent and 25 per cent respectively, using 2005 as a base year.

However, given that natural gas can be used directly and safely for cooking and heating, it does not make sense to mix it with naphtha, a flammable liquid mixture of hydrocarbons, to produce Towngas. Total replacement of naphtha with natural gas would not only substantially reduce CO{-2}, NOx and SO{-2} emissions, but save energy and possibly allow us to get rid of the polluting gas plants at Tai Po and Ma Tau Kok.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the Hong Kong and central governments in August 2008 can assure the supply of adequate natural gas to Hong Kong for the next 20 years.

The secretary for the environment should have the courage and political will to include the complete replacement of naphtha with natural gas for cleaner cooking and heating in Hong Kong as part of the package of mitigation measures to achieve the proposed carbon intensity reduction goals and new Air Quality Objectives.

Dr C.W. Tso, adjunct professor, school of energy and environment, City University of Hong Kong

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