For Discussion on
11 September 1998

Legislative Council
Panel on Environmental Affairs

Study of Air Quality in the Pearl River Delta Region


This paper briefs Members on a proposed "Study of Air Quality in the Pearl River Delta Region", to be jointly conducted by Hong Kong and Guangdong.


2.The continuing development and urbanization of Hong Kong and Guangdong is putting pressure on air quality in the entire Pearl River Delta Region (the Region). Rapidly increasing air pollution emissions from sources such as motor vehicles, power stations, industries and construction activities are having serious adverse impact on both local and regional air quality. Deterioration in visibility and increase in ozone levels are signs that the regional air pollution problem is getting worse. In Hong Kong, the Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) of respirable suspended particulate (RSP) and nitrogen dioxide have consistently not been achieved. In addition, recent measurements of ozone have exceeded its AQO. To prevent the future deterioration of air quality in the Region, joint action between Hong Kong and Guangdong is required. As a start, we need to find out the nature and magnitude of air pollution in the Region.

3.At the Eighth Hong Kong - Guangdong Environmental Protection Liaison Group (the Liaison Group) meeting held on 7 January 1998, both sides agreed on the need to study jointly into the air quality in the Region. An Expert Group comprising technical professionals from both Hong Kong and Guangdong was set up to identify the scope of work required and put up a proposal to the Liaison Group. The proposal of the Expert Group was endorsed by the Liaison Group at its Ninth meeting on 6 August 1998. Both sides are now proceeding to seek funds to conduct the work agreed respectively.


4.The purpose of the proposed study is to identify the emerging air quality problems in the Region, project trends into the future, assess their impacts and propose the necessary preventive and control measures. For Guangdong, there is a pressing need to work out preventive and control measures against acid rain pollution in the Region. For Hong Kong, the priority is on pollution problems caused directly and indirectly by motor vehicles that include nitrogen dioxide, photochemical oxidants and particulates. Both sides have agreed that all these issues should be examined and hence the work is proposed to consist of two topical studies, namely the "Study on Acid Rain Pollution and its Control Measures" and the "Study on Pollution of Nitrogen Dioxide, Photochemical Smog and Particulates and their Control Measures". Considering the immediate concerns and priorities of both sides, Guangdong has agreed to take up the former topical study and Hong Kong to take up the latter topical study at their own cost respectively.

5.Both sides have agreed to share the responsibilities, the work and the findings arising from the joint study. The Expert Group will meet regularly to examine reports produced and exchange views. Both sides will also provide the necessary information, assistance, advice and findings to support the other side's topical study. Upon completion of these two topical studies, the Expert Group will prepare a joint final report for consideration and approval by the Liaison Group. The outcomes of the studies will assist in the formulation of future control strategies to tackle air pollution in the Region.


6.For the "Study on Pollution of Nitrogen Dioxide, Photochemical Smog and Particulates and their Control Measures", the detailed work required will include:

  1. collection of existing information on air quality, pollution sources and projections on socio-economic growth;

  2. collection of additional data on the temporal and spatial distribution of pollutant concentration and the simultaneous meteorological conditions; and

  3. assessment of likely future air pollution scenarios and the effectiveness of pollution control measures to be jointly undertaken by the Hong Kong and the Guangdong authorities.

7.The study will involve extensive data collection and analysis work much of which will need to be conducted in the field throughout the Region, with the aid of scientific equipment and hire of external services. The estimated budget is HK$15 million, comprising the followings:

$ million
(a) Collection of existing information 5.3
(b) Monitoring and analysis 6.3
(c) Evaluation and future projection 3.0
(d) Miscellaneous expenses and contingencies 0.4

Total 15.0


8. For the Guangdong side, the budget for the "Study on Acid Rain Pollution and its Control Measures" is RMB 6 million. The scope of the study will include:

  1. collection of existing data including meteorology, terrain and soil conditions;

  2. collection of additional data on socio-economical development, ambient air conditions and emission sources of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Analysis of the relationship between acid rain and emissions levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides;

  3. assessment of likely future emission levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides and the trend of acid rain pollution, and pollution control targets and measures.


9.The main study work will take approximately 18 months. The Administration is planning to submit the application for funding to the Finance Committee in October 1998. Subject to funding approval, the plan is to start the study work around April 1999 and submit a report to the Liaison Group for consideration before end 2000.


10.Members are invited to note the content of this paper and endorse our proposal to seek funding approval from the Finance Committee for $15 million to conduct the study mentioned in paragraphs 6 and 7 above.

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
September 1998