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HK Gov't Pledges to Upgrade Air Quality
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The Hong Kong government is determined to achieve the emission targets agreed with Guangdong Province for 2010, through reduction measures and cooperation with the province, the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department said Monday.

A spokesman of the department said that air quality is a serious issue not only for Hong Kong but the whole Pearl River Delta, given the rapid growth in urbanization and industry.

To improve air quality, the Hong Kong and Guangdong governments have agreed to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) by 40 percent, 20 percent, 55 percent and 55 percent respectively, the spokesman said.

The department has already made good progress in cutting NOx, RSP and VOC emissions. For SO2, however, much of the effort has been impaired by the rise in emissions from power plants. The current SO2 emission is 47 percent higher than in 1997, according to the spokesman.

Electricity generation is the biggest source of air pollution in Hong Kong, accounting for 92 percent of SO2 and half of NOx and RSP emissions, according to the department's figure. The department asked the power companies to accelerate emission reduction projects, increase the use of ultra-low sulfur coal and use natural gas for power generation as much as possible.

For the new Scheme of Control, the government has proposed to link the permitted rate of return on all fixed assets of the power companies to their achievement of the emission caps, providing economic incentive for reduced emissions, he added.

In the coming years the department will pursue additional measures, such as introducing Euro IV emission standards to newly-registered vehicles, the spokesman said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2006)

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