Cleaner fuels are a start, but a sustainable lifestyle is key in Hong Kong’s climate change fight

Cleaner fuels are a start, but a sustainable lifestyle is key in Hong Kong’s climate change fight

Edwin Lau says CLP’s proposed LNG terminal reflects the technical approach to cutting greenhouse gases, but education for all age groups is vital for our survival

The Environmental Protection Department has recently given the green light for CLP Power to conduct an environmental impact assessment study for its proposed offshore liquefied natural gas terminal to be built to the east of the Soko Islands.

In fact, 10 years ago, CLP had already proposed building a land-based LNG terminal at Tai A Chau, to receive natural gas from other sources. It was claimed that its existing Yacheng gas field, off Hainan Island, would be depleted by the early 2010s, and building an LNG terminal was a viable option to maintain energy security for the city. The related environmental impact assessment was endorsed by the government in 2007.

However, in 2008, the Hong Kong government signed an agreement with the mainland authorities to secure a supply of natural gas for 20 years. This removed the immediate worries about energy security and, as a result, CLP abandoned the LNG project soon after.

So the mainland seems willing to share its gas supply to keep our economy growing. It is similar to the continuous supply of water from the Dongjiang. But that has lowered our awareness of long-term water security.

CLP would be left with a single source of gas supply if the Yacheng field really becomes depleted. Last December, a landslide in Shenzhen damaged part of the West-East Gas Pipeline and led to the suspension of the gas supply to CLP for two months. This highlighted the energy security issue again.

In its 2015 climate change report, the Hong Kong government pledged to raise the ratio of natural gas for electricity generation from 21 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020, as a way to tackle climate change.

Faced with such a requirement, CLP came up with the offshore LNG terminal that will give it flexibility to buy natural gas from the world market (reportedly much cheaper than that bought via the gas pipeline). If the terminal is built, LNG will be bought from the world market to supply both CLP and HK Electric, and possibly Towngas.

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