Chapter 2 - Combating Climate Change: Where Do We Start?
2.1 Currently about 67% of Hong Kong’s carbon emissions come from electricity generation, of which the electricity is generated to meet the demand of the public and the industrial and commercial sectors. Apart from demand side energy saving measures, the Government has been promoting the use of cleaner fuel and renewable energy in power generation to reduce the emissions. In 1997, the Government decided not to build any new coal-fired electricity generation plants.
2.2 The most appropriate and available large-scale technology to replace coal and reduce carbon emissions for Hong Kong at the moment is natural gas-fired electricity generation. Back in 1996, the first gas-fired electricity plant was built, and today there are 10 plants in Hong Kong providing 27% of electricity requirement in 2015. By around 2020, natural gas will generate about half of our electricity while coal will drop to about 25%. This will help us achieving the target of 50% to 60% reduction in carbon intensity in 2020 using 2005 as the base, equivalent to about 20% of absolute carbon emissions reduction. 17
2.3 However, burning natural gas will continue to generate carbon emissions. We cannot solely rely on local eletricity generation by natural gas if we need to achieve more progressive carbon reduction target.
Note: Carbon emissions arising from railway electricity consumption accounted for 2% of the overall carbon emissions, which are counted in the electricity generation sector
How Are We Doing Compared With Other Cities?
Comparing Per Capita GHG Emissions in 2016
2.4 The per capita calculation is derived from dividing the total GHG emissions with the population, which worked out to around 5.7 tonnes for Hong Kong in 2016, and was between the levels in New York City (6.7 tonnes) and London (4.7 tonnes). Given that the global population in 2050 is projected to reach around 9 billion (7.5 billion in 2015), if the world is to achieve the well below 2°C target, it implies the per capita emissions for the world should average around 2 tonnes CO2e*. For Hong Kong, based on a projected population of about 8.15 million in 2050, this would mean a 60% reduction of absolute carbon emissions compared with the 2005 level by 2050.
Note: *To reduce absolute CO2e emissions between 40% to 70% by 2050 compared with 2010, global per capita carbon emissions would need to fall to about 1.4 to 3 tonnes CO2e by 2050. The median is about 2 tonnes CO2e.
2.5 Our current target is to reduce Hong Kong’s per capita contribution to less than 4.5 tonnes in 2020; and to further reduce it to about 3.3-3.8 tonnes in 2030. When compared with the 2005 level, Hong Kong’s 2030 target in terms of absolute carbon emissions reduction (26-36%) is comparable to those of other major Asian cities such as Seoul (40%), Tokyo (~32%) and Taipei (25%), and is higher than that of Singapore (it is expected that Singapore’s carbon emissions will continue to increase until 2030 and will begin to decrease after 2030). Yet, there would still be a long way to go for Hong Kong to reach around 2 tonnes per capita further into the future, and will be more challenging to reach net zero around 2050 if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C in response to the recent IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.
2.6 Hence, combating climate change requires participation of the entire community and crosssectoral actions.