Chapter 3 - Time To Step Up Action Now, How Do We Move Forward?
Setting Carbon Reduction Target For 2050
3.1 As a responsible global citizen, Hong Kong has to formulate the long-term decarbonisation strategy and action plan up to 2050. According to the Paris Agreement, the strategy can include specific and quantifiable targets (including phased targets), while setting visionary goals is also considered as a viable option. Different actions are required to limit the total carbon emissions at varying levels.
3.2 Different actions are required in general to achieve the target. However, depending on the progress of individual actions, it may not be sufficient to achieve the target even if all of the following actions are fully implemented:
Towards Basic Level of Carbon Emissions Reduction
Limit global average temperature rise to 2°C through reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 (2005 as base year)
Changing habits to reduce energy use and carbon emissions
Wider implementation of energy saving retrofitting and retro-commissioning* for existing buildings
About 80% zero carbon energy and very close energy regional cooperation is necessary
Improvements in energy efficiency and conservation through tightening energy-related standards and behavioural changes
New energy vehicles (e.g. electric vehicles (EVs)) to gradually replace conventional fuel-driven vehicles
Shift to procure low-carbon products
Technological breakthrough and advancements to reduce and offset carbon emissions
Pursuing Efforts to Achieve a More Audacious Carbon Reduction Target
Limit global temperature rise to between 1.5°C and 2°C through reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 (2005 as base year)
Changing patterns of behaviour proactively to further reduce energy use and carbon emissions
Mandating all large existing buildings to implement energy saving retrofitting and retro-commissioning
More than 80% zero carbon energy and very close energy regional cooperation is necessary
Marked improvements in energy efficiency and conservation through mandatory energy-related measures and standards, as well as behavioural changes
New energy vehicles (e.g. EVs) as the key modal choice
Mandating low-carbon green procurement
Significant technological breakthrough and advancements to reduce and offset carbon emissions
Limit global average temperature rise to 1.5°C through achieving Net Zero Carbon Emissions (Carbon Neutral) by 2050
Lower-carbon lifestyle for all
Energy saving works (e.g. retrofitting and retro-commissioning) mandatory for all existing large buildings
100% zero carbon energy is mandatory and very close energy regional cooperation is necessary
Mandatory energy saving measures
Mandating all new buildings to be net zero carbon emissions
Mandating zero emission vehicles to replace all conventional fuel-driven vehicles
Rigorous technological breakthroughs and advancements to reduce and offset carbon emissions
Note: *Retro-commissioning is a systematic and cost-effective process to periodically check an existing building’s energy and other performances such as equipment conditions, how equipment and systems function together, the effectiveness of operation and maintenance strategies, etc. The process identifies operational improvements that can save energy. The process can be performed alone or with a retrofit project, such as replacing less energy efficient appliances with more efficient ones.
3.3 Many cities and countries are exploring ways to cut their emissions. Despite different geographical conditions, economic progress and political contexts, their carbon reduction efforts focus on several key areas, including enhancing education and public awareness, enhancing building energy efficiency, deep decarbonisation in the energy sector and promoting green transport, as well as other measures such as industrial upgrading (e.g. use of low-carbon materials and production methods), better waste management (e.g. waste reduction, waste-to-energy technologies) and adoption of carbon removal measures (e.g. carbon capture and storage technologies, reforestation and afforestation).
3.4 Tackling the climate change challenges requires full collaboration across sectors. A global trend is to explore different financing mechanisms, such as issuance of green bonds and setting of carbon pricing to channel private sector investment into projects and activities in renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, and other eco-friendly industries that contribute to a low carbon economy.
Education and Public Awareness
To launch climate change awareness campaigns using the media
To strengthen policy-oriented and enabling more environment researches
To include climate change topics in school curricula
Example: Berlin (refer to p.41 at Annex for details)
Economic Opportunities and Financing Mechanisms
To accelerate the transition to low carbon economy to ensure long-term sustainable development and progress towards a low-carbon future
To mobilise private sector investment in support of projects or activities that contribute to low-carbon and climate-resilient economy
Example: Scotland and The United Kingdom (refer to p.42 at Annex for details)
Enhancing Building Energy Efficiency
To renovate, retrofit, and refurbish the existing buildings and facilities to improve the energy efficiency of space cooling/heating, lighting, building envelope and other building energy systems, etc
To tighten energy efficiency and performance standards of buildings
To adopt district cooling/heating systems
To adopt heat pumps, combined heat and power (co-generation) and tri-generation systems (cooling, heating and power)
To install renewable energy devices at different venues
Example: New York City and Tokyo (refer to p.41 at Annex for details)
Promoting Green Transport
To adopt smart city strategies and plans; infrastructure improvements to promote walkability and a bicycle-friendly environment
To improve fuel efficiency of vehicles
To accelerate the adoption of new energy vehicles such as EVs, and promote the use of biofuels in heavy goods vehicles, etc.
To set a vision and/or target year for phasing out fossil fuel vehicles
Example: Norway and Seoul (refer to p.42 at Annex for details)
Decarbonisation in the Energy Sector
To use renewable energy and nuclear energy as the major fuel sources, supplemented by fossil fuel generation equipped with carbon capture and storage technology
To adopt carbon pricing and emission trading to instigate behavioural change for stepping up energy saving
To provide incentives for the development of clean energy
To explore the possibility of power import and pursuing enhancement in energy regional cooperation
Example: Germany, Denmark and Seattle (refer to p.41-42 at Annex for details)
Should there be regulatory requirements to ensure companies and organisations meeting the designated carbon reduction targets? Should tax incentives and/or penalties be imposed to ensure compliance?
What are the functions of green bonds, carbon tax and cap-and-trade scheme, etc., in carbon reduction in Hong Kong?
Transition Towards A Low-carbon Society
Participation By All Citizens
3.5 According to 2019 data, we need more than 4 Earths if everyone in the world follows the lifestyle of Hong Kong people. 19 We can explore room for improvement and can do better in reducing our carbon footprint in order to combat climate change. A less wasteful and energy saving lifestyle is a “must” way to begin with.
3.6 Everything we need in daily lives has a carbon footprint and food is no exception. Food’s carbon footprint is the GHG emissions produced by growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing of the food we eat. Changing our dietary patterns (e.g. more vegetables, less meat), choosing locally grown produce, and minimising our food waste can have a big impact on our carbon footprint.
Food Carbon Emissions
Source: Leung, et al., (2010) 20
Food Waste: An Overlooked Driver of Climate Change
3.7 Globally, food wastage creates about 8% of all human-induced GHG emissions.21 We can always take small steps to curb our emissions at source by consuming food wisely, reducing and delivering surplus to those in need, shopping wisely and turning food waste into energy.
Are you aware of the relationship between your daily activities and carbon emissions? How can we facilitate you to have a better grasp of the related information?
Food Waste Disposal (in gram per person per day in Hong Kong)
Average per capita food waste disposal was 485g between 2009 and 2017
Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign
Why not just order the right portion of food when you eat out?
How about you only cook the portion that you will eat, so that you can save money as well as food?
Your Every Step Counts!
Buy 5 new cotton T-shirt in each season (Assuming you will wear and wash it 50 times)
Buy 1 new cotton T-shirt in each season (Assuming you will wear and wash it 50 times)
Reduce ~80% CO2e
Eat a 90g palm size steak
Eat a 90g potato
Reduce ~90% CO2e
Switch on a 1HP (9,000 BTU/h) air conditioner for 8 hours
Switch on a portable fan for 8 hours
One litre of petrol burnt in a car engine - from Chai Wan to Kennedy Town (Assuming it is a midsize car/large family car)
Take MTR from Chai Wan to Kennedy Town
Big Waster OR “Hanson”? You always have a choice!
Low-carbon Living Calculator
It assesses your carbon emissions in respect of clothing, food, living and travel in the past year through 14 multiple-choice type questions. Low-carbon living tips are also provided to drive behavioural change.
What can help you switch to a low-carbon lifestyle? How can the goods and services providers facilitate your behavioural change?
What are the obstacles for you to switch to a low-carbon lifestyle?
What kind of education and publicity activities should be put forward in promoting low-carbon lifestyle?
Hello! I behave like Big Waster! I live with my family of four on Hong Kong Island. Here are my family practices and living habits :
Electricity bill per month
Gas bill per month
Water bill per month
Daily waste per day
45L (around 3 typical plastic shopping bags from supermarket)
Total mileage of my private vehicle powered by petrol
10,000 km (one year)
1 to Asia and 1 to Europe per year
Eating 100g of meat per day per person (about the portion of 1 palm size steak)
10 servings per week per person
New clothes and shoes
1 item per month per person
About 9.5 tonnes CO2e per person in a year
Hello! I behave like “Hanson”! I live with my family of four on Hong Kong Island. Here are my family practices and living habits:
Electricity bill per month
Gas bill per month
Water bill per month
Daily waste per day
15L (around 1 typical plastic shopping bag from supermarket)
12 hours spending on MTR per week per person
Local trips in Hong Kong as far as possible
More vegetables, less meat (especially red meat)
New clothes and shoes
1 item per quarter per person
About 2.6 tonnes CO2e per person in a year
Reducing Energy Use and Further Decarbonising Electricity Generation
How Do We Consume Our Energy?
3.8 Energy is an essential part of our daily lives and is also important for our economic activities. To embark on our low-carbon transition journey, it is important to know how energy is used by households, industrial and commercial organisations and the transportation sector.
3.9 In Hong Kong, over 50% of the total annual energy use is in the form of electricity consumption. Buildings (i.e. more than 40,000) accounted for about 90% of the city’s electricity use and some 60% of total GHG emissions. 30
3.10 While new buildings can be designed to incorporate energy-smart elements, it is equally important for owners/occupants of existing buildings (especially commercial and residential buildings) to go green as they have great potential to perform better through energy saving, energy audit, carbon audit, retro-commissioning and retrofitting.
Energy Consumption Per Capita
Energy Consumption Per Unit of GDP
Source: EMSD, HKSARG
Total: 289,219 TJ
Total: 158,662 TJ
Source: EMSD, HKSARG
15% Home office equipment (e.g. computer equipment and monitor)
8% Hot water
6% Office equipment
8% Hot water & Refrigeration
Source: EMSD, HKSARG
What Are We Doing To Promote Energy Saving And Efficiency?
3.11 To achieve long-term carbon reduction, the community must take collective actions to change our behaviour and to invest in more energy efficient products, technologies and practices. Since the 1990s, the Government has made considerable efforts in collaboration with building professionals and other stakeholders to promote green buildings and enhance buildings’ energy efficiency.
3.12 Some specific measures include: progressively tightening the statutory energy efficiency standards in buildings, accelerating tax deduction for renewable energy and energy-efficient building installations, promoting different energy-saving measures and technologies to the industry, conducting regular energy and carbon audits on major government buildings, encouraging bureaux and departments to apply for green building certification for buildings under their management, and organising the “Energy Saving for All” Campaign, etc. (See Annex 5 for details).
Building is one of the main sources of carbon emissions in Hong Kong. What can we do further to promote energy saving and reduce building-related carbon emissions?
What measures may be considered to encourage or regulate building owners and tenants to raise energy efficiency of the whole buildings (i.e. including non-communal units/ areas)?
What measures may be considered to encourage building owners to develop more on-site renewable energy installations?
What passive energy saving design elements (e.g. natural ventilation) may be considered to enhance building energy efficiency in the long run? What incentives should be provided to further encourage developers and owners to adopt passive energy saving design elements?
Further Carbon Reduction In Electricity Generation
3.13 Currently, about 67% of Hong Kong’s carbon emissions comes from electricity generation. Hence, decarbonising the electricity generating sector plays a key role in our decarbonisation strategy.
Fossil or non-fossil fuels, what will you choose? For the benefits of both the current and future generations, what are your considerations in deciding the future fuel mix for Hong Kong?
50% Natural Gas
25% Non-fossil fuels, including imported nuclear and renewable energy
Source: Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+
From Now to 2020
3.14 In 2015, coal (48%) remained the largest share of the fuel for electricity generation in Hong Kong, followed by natural gas (27%) and non-fossil fuels (including imported nuclear) (25%). By around 2020, it is expected that natural gas will generate about half of our electricity.
Mid-term Decarbonisation (2030)
3.15 To help meet our carbon intensity reduction target of 65% to 70% by 2030, Hong Kong is phasing out coal-fired electricity generation in the next decade. Natural gas-fired electricity generation is a reliable and available large-scale technology to replace coal and reduce carbon emissions but it still generates carbon emissions and cannot help us achieve a higher carbon reduction target.
Long-term Decarbonisation (2050)
3.16 To achieve a carbon reduction target of well below 2°C in 2050 that is in compliance with the Paris Agreement, it is estimated that about 80% of our electricity would need to come from zero carbon energy sources (including renewable energy and imported nuclear energy). If we are to achieve beyond the Paris Agreement’s well below 2°C target, the use of zero carbon energy source has to be further increased. As Hong Kong has very limited renewable energy potential, regional cooperation plays a crucial role in helping us achieve a higher carbon reduction target beyond 2030.
3.17 Hong Kong should take a practical approach to obtain significant carbon reduction in the 2030s using today’s technology, and aim for further reduction towards 2050 when we might benefit from emerging and future technologies over time.
3.18 Longer term decisions about the precise pathways up to 2050 can only be taken later in the light of the further developments in technology around 30 years down the road which will affect the cost, availability and performance of different fuel types. Nevertheless, major considerations when determining our long- term strategy to decarbonise the electricity generating sector towards 2050 will include: environmental performance, reliability, safety and affordability. Details of these major considerations are set out in Annex 7.
The development of renewable energy locally is being optimised as far as possible. The Government is taking the lead in developing renewable energy. It has earmarked $2 billion to implement relevant projects at government premises, and will install solar power systems of a larger scale at suitable reservoir and landfill locations. The Government has also introduced Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and implemented different facilitation measures, including suitably relaxing the restrictions on “village house” rooftop installations, launching Solar Harvest to assist eligible schools and welfare non-governmental organisations in installing solar photovoltaic panels, etc, to encourage and assist the private sector in adopting renewable energy.
However, given the geographical constraints of Hong Kong (mainly due to the scarcity of land), the Government’s latest assessment is that we only have modest realisable renewable energy potential (including wind, solar and waste-to-energy) at around 3-4% arising from currently available renewable energy technologies that can be exploited between now and 2030 locally.
Significant increase in the local renewable energy percentage will only be possible with the emergence of future renewable energy technologies.
While renewable energy will keep minimising the environmental impact of energy use, most renewable energy is intermittent in nature and requires the support of stable fuel sources. The total cost involving use of renewable energy is therefore significantly higher than other fuels.
What can we do to further enhance the development of renewable energy locally?
Regional cooperation is an approach that is/will be commonly adopted by other world cities in decarbonising the energy sector, e.g. Seattle City (United States) imports hydroelectricity from other places in the State of Washington. It is also not new to Hong Kong as we have been importing about 25% of our electricity from Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station (DBNPS). Regional cooperation is an approach that must be considered if we are to achieve a higher carbon reduction target given that zero carbon energy (including local and imported renewable energy and imported nuclear energy) has to be our dominant fuel source beyond 2030 and our local renewable energy potential is very limited.
More renewable energy is becoming available in the Mainland as it reduces its own fossil fuel generation, and regional cooperation may allow us to tap into renewable energy available in the Mainland. Having said that, Hong Kong’ s ability to get priority for renewable energy over other Mainland cities is uncertain.
Our current agreement to import nuclear electricity runs up until 2034 and hence we will continue to have around a quarter of our electricity coming from a carbon free source until at least then. There are overseas examples for nuclear generating units to have life of service extended to allow them to run for 60 years (2054 in the case of DBNPS). Nuclear plants employ sophisticated and careful operational safety and waste management measures, and many other nuclear plants are being built or operating in Southern China, regardless of whether Hong Kong imports nuclear power.
As an example of strengthening regional cooperation, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited’s existing Clean Energy Transmission System network with China Southern Power Grid and DBNPS is being enhanced. When completed in 2025, the strengthened network will give Hong Kong the capability and flexibility to use more zero carbon energy from the region of up to around 30-35% of our fuel mix, thereby advancing Hong Kong’s achievement of its original carbon reduction target for 2030 by as much as five years.
The Government will commission a study with the power companies from 2020 to study the detailed arrangements for further strengthening the interconnection between the Mainland and Hong Kong, as well as that between the existing grids in Hong Kong.
Further enhancement of regional cooperation for increasing the proportion of zero carbon energy in our fuel mix is an inevitable step towards achieving higher carbon reduction targets in 2030 and 2050. What are your views on this in the face of the threat of climate change?
Highly reliable supply is critical to Hong Kong given that Hong Kong is an international financial and commercial centre operating in a densely populated environment with significant concentration of high-rise buildings. Reliability of supply is expected to become far more important in future as Hong Kong moves towards “Smart Cities” and our lives will depend on billions of interconnected electric chips.
Even if feasible, most renewable energy (such as solar and wind) is intermittent, for example, when the sun does not shine or the wind is not blowing. So the use of renewable energy as our main source of zero carbon energy would require back-up support from other stable fuel sources (e.g. fossil fuel and nuclear power) to ensure reliability, when sufficient volumes of renewable energy are not available or cannot be delivered to Hong Kong.
Reliability of regional cooperation is affected by the type of electricity we import and how we import it. Reliability can be enhanced significantly by importing power through dedicated transmission line with decoupling arrangement.
Security and Availability
Avoid dependence on single fuel type and source for ensuring energy security and gaining better bargaining power over purchase price and terms.
Based on current technology, the local renewable energy potential is relatively limited. If technological developments enable us to adopt more local renewable energy in the 2030s and 2040s, we may plan flexibly to cope with a greater volume of local renewable energy.
Importing renewable energy from the Mainland is an option for future power supply. Having said that, Hong Kong’s ability to get priority for renewable energy over other Mainland cities is uncertain.
Based on current prices and technology, coal-fired generation has the lowest unit cost of electricity, followed by nuclear power and gas-fired generation. Renewable energy is in general a few times more expensive than electricity generated from fossil fuels. The use of renewable energy also requires the back up support from other stable fuel sources hence involves additional costs.
Most of the existing coal and gas fired generating plants will have to be retired in the run up to 2050. As old plants retire and are replaced with new cleaner supply sources, whether from power import or local generation, the cost of electricity supply would be expected to increase due to the replacement of the retiring plants and higher cost of cleaner energy. Since the cost impact would depend on a host of factors, including the retirement schedule of existing generation units, the choice of replacement supply sources, the capital investment required, the means of financing new infrastructure, fuel costs, operation costs, sales volume, etc., it is premature to make any meaningful assessment of the tariff implication for 2050.
Environmental Performance and Response to Climate Change
Electricity generation is a major source of carbon emissions in Hong Kong. Given the threats posed by climate change, one of the key measures is to use more zero carbon energy for electricity generation in order to reduce our carbon emissions. We are also required to adopt energy conservation, green commuting and waste reduction practices for meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement.
How would you rank the importance of different considerations (including reliability, security and availability, affordability, and environmental performance and response to climate change, etc.) when considering the long-term strategy to decarbonise the electricity generating sector towards 2050 for Hong Kong?
Low-carbon Transport In A Smart City
Travel Patterns and Carbon Emissions In Hong Kong
3.19 Transportation is an important component of Hong Kong’s economy, which accounted for around 31% of total energy end-use in 2016. 31
3.20 Although Hong Kong has a well-developed public transport system with railway as its backbone, the transport sector as a whole produced 18% of the total carbon emissions locally (railway electricity consumption accounted for another 2% of the overall carbon emissions which are covered in the electricity generation sector).
Adopting Multi-pronged Approach To Reduce Carbon Emissions In The Transport Sector
Railway as a Backbone
Over the years, the Government has been adopting a public transport-oriented policy with railways as the backbone, and has been actively developing different public transport services to provide the public with more choices for added convenience.
Transport and Housing Bureau (THB)/ Transport Department have been taking forward progressively a host of short, medium and long-term recommendations by the Transport Advisory Committee in its Report on Study of Road Traffic Congestion in Hong Kong (TAC Report). THB will also actively explore measures to manage the fleet size of private cars as recommended by the TAC Report, including fiscal measures.
New Energy Vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) are more efficient than conventional internal combustion engines in converting the energy in fuel to mechanical power. Based on the fuel mix of electricity generation of 2015 (i.e. 27% natural gas; 48% coal and 25% non-fossil fuels, including imported nuclear), the trial results of the Pilot Green Transport Fund show that commercial electric vehicles (EVs) have about 30% less carbon emissions on average than their conventional counterparts (tank-to-wheel) on the same mileage travelled.
To further reduce our carbon footprint and air pollutant emissions from power plants, the Government will revise its fuel mix in 2020 to increase gas-fired generation to about 50% and reduce coal-fired generation to about 25%. Hence, by then, EVs should emit even less carbon dioxide on average than their conventional counterparts (tank-to-wheel) on the same mileage travelled.
The Government will continue to promote the adoption of new energy vehicles, including EVs. The number of EVs in Hong Kong has increased to 11,496 as at the end of December 2018 from less than 100 at the end of 2010.
The 2018 Policy Address has announced that the Government may consider ceasing the first registration of diesel private cars subject to consultation with stakeholders as the first step to encourage the use of new energy vehicles.
Transport Sector Energy End-use, 2016
Energy Consumption of the Transport Sector by Fuel Type, 2016
Total: 89,891 TJ
Source: EMSD, HKSARG
Green Innovative Technology
A $300 million Pilot Green Transport Fund (the Fund) has been put in place since March 2011 to encourage the public transport sector and goods vehicle operators to test out green innovative transport technologies. As of end December 2018, the Fund approved 140 trials, amounting to a total subsidy of about $139 million. Of them, 75 and 57 were electric commercial vehicles (e-CVs) and hybrid commercial vehicles (h-CVs) respectively, involving a total of 106 e-CVs and 89 h-CVs. Others involve trials of 1 set of solar air-conditioning system for bus, 4 sets of electric inverter air-conditioning systems for buses and 3 diesel-electric propulsion systems for ferries.
In the 2018 Policy Address, the Government has revealed plans to review the scope of the Pilot Green Transport Fund with a view to further facilitating the transport sector’s wider use of green innovative transport technologies that are suitable for use in Hong Kong.
Mobility and Walkability
The Government will continue to promote walkability so as to reduce the use of mechanised transport for short-distance commuting.
Foster a “bicycle-friendly” environment in new towns and New Development Areas.
For energy saving in buildings, a more reliable and effective means is to switch off some elevators during off-peak hours. Government buildings have been implementing this practice for a number of years and achieved good results.
How to promote wider use of green and innovative transport technologies?
What other measures would you suggest to further reduce our transport-related carbon emissions? For example, would you consider short-distance commuting instead of travelling by vehicle and replace face-to-face meetings with video conferencing?