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Give public more details on GD-HK pollution deal
Latest Updated by 2006-08-30 11:30:00

The government should elaborate on the Hong Kong-Guangdong emissions trading scheme to convince the public of its feasibility, a public policy think tank said yesterday.

An implementation framework for the Emission Trading Pilot Scheme for Thermal Power Plants was completed under the Hong Kong-Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference in August when the two governments reconfirmed their emissions reduction target by 2010.

While more details will be announced later this year, Civic Exchange Chief Executive Officer Christine Loh questioned the lack of local electricity companies' participation in designing the scheme.

Emission trading is an administrative approach to control pollution by capping emission levels. Economic incentives for achieving emission levels are offered, and companies are allowed to trade each others' emission credits. By buying credits from other firms, the heavy polluters have to pay more while the overall pollutant emission is in control.

Loh said that emissions trading involves high level of technicality and cooperation. The successful US EPA Acid Rain Programme, for example, was conceived both by the government and the participating power plants.

"HK Electric and CLP both say they don't know much about the upcoming emissions trading scheme. We wonder if that is reluctance speaking or a surprising gap in communication," she said.

Technicalities of the scheme raise critical questions that need to be addressed, said William Barron, visiting scholar at the Institute for the Environment of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Trading of a pollutant requires a separate programme and only one pollutant is traded in most schemes around the world. The government has proposed trading three pollutants, which marks an extremely ambitious and complicated plan.

"There are also questions about the qualification of the participating power plants, the monitoring and verification of emissions data and what will happen if the participants fail to achieve the offsets," he said.

Corroborating Barron, Loh remarked that the main concern was whether the government would revise the framework after public consultation and discussion with the participating parties.

"So far, it seems that the Hong Kong and Guangdong governments have completed the framework and it will simply be implemented. If the public has to support the scheme, we have to know it will work."

To questions on the trading of three pollutants, a spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Department said it would not complicate the trading scheme.

"We will need the trading system even if it is for only one pollutant. Moreover, power plants could choose to trade one or two of the pollutants rather than three."

Legislator Choy So-yuk, too, said the government would work on the technicalities and other details once the scheme is carried out.

Editor: Yan

By:Nicole Wong Source:China Daily Website
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