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Pearl River Delta carbon emissions can be cut: WWF

CARBON dioxide emissions in the Pearl River Delta, China's export engine, could be cut by up to 24 percent through low-cost, green technologies, according to a study released yesterday by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

In a pilot study on three factories making garments, plastics and electronics last July, the WWF found cuts in annual emissions from 12 to 24 percent were possible at "low cost and with quick returns."

Extrapolating the results across the vast industrial region, dubbed the "world's factory" since it produces about a third of China's exports, the WWF estimated carbon emissions could be cut by 74 million tons - more than the annual emissions of Austria or Sweden.

That reduction can be achieved "if measures promoted under the LCMP (low carbon manufacturing program) are scaled up to all factories in the region," said Karen Ho from the WWF's Hong Kong office.

It would "unlock huge potential to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions" in the region, she said in a statement.

Previous attempts have been made to clean up the Pearl River Delta's rusting industries, which have caused widespread water and air pollution in the region, including nearby Hong Kong.

Voluntary schemes urging firms, intent on maintaining wafer-thin cost advantages in the Pearl River Delta, to invest in costly green technologies haven't proven popular.

The WWF, however, said even low-investment solutions such as solar panels and improved electricity and air system management, could bring cost savings.

A four-tier carbon rating label system, touted by the WWF, might also bolster a product's attractiveness among discerning customers.

"The garment sector is under intense price competition. If manufacturers can credibly demonstrate their green qualifications it will provide them with an additional competitive advantage, other than price," said Philip Yeung, the executive director of the Clothing Industry Training Authority.

To ease the region's longstanding pollution woes, the Guangdong and Hong Kong governments agreed in 2002 to implement emission reduction targets by 2010, including cuts of 40 percent for sulphur dioxide emissions. Some say the targets might not be met.


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