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Climate Change

Our response to climate change is consistent with the latest recommendations from climate scientists, namely, that adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for reducing and managing expected risks.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We have reported on our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2002. We monitor Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and also make reference to guidelines published by the Environmental Protection Department and Electrical and Mechanical Services Department in Hong Kong and other international sources.


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In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded its Fifth Assessment Report. The key findings of this report are that human influence on the climate system is unequivocal, climate change is already having widespread impacts, and continued emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are likely to increase the frequency and severity of impacts over the coming decades.


Climate Change Mitigation

Total GHG emissions reported by the Company in 2014 increased by 10 per cent compared with 2013. This outcome is largely attributable to GHG emissions from transport operations, associated with increased train frequency and higher patronage, and from our network expansion projects. The majority of our GHG emissions are indirect emissions arising from purchased electricity for transport operations, properties and other businesses. This electricity is supplied by two vertically-integrated suppliers and is generated from a mix of coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Since we exercise minimal influence over the source of electricity that we consume, our mitigation efforts focus on energy saving measures and improving energy efficiency is one of our top environmental objectives.

Carbon Disclosure Project

We have participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Climate Change Programme each year since 2006 and have also been included in the CDP’s Asia ex-Japan Climate Disclosure Leadership Index since 2012. The main advantage of this programme is the opportunity to benchmark our performance with other organisations. In 2014, our response to the CDP’s climate change questionnaire achieved a performance band score of B, representing an improvement from C in 2013. This result means that the CDP recognises climate change is a priority for our organisation but believes there is still room for improvement to ensure that our initiatives are fully established.

Lifecycle Carbon Assessment

It is widely acknowledged that emissions associated with daily operations, such as environmental control systems and lights, account for up to 90 per cent of the total lifecycle GHG emissions from buildings. Our pilot study in 2010 confirmed that a similarly high proportion of total lifecycle GHG emissions arise during the operational phase of our railway projects. This means that in comparison to railway operations, the overall contribution to climate change from construction and decommissioning phases of rail projects is relatively minor.


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The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an organisation based in the United Kingdom, which works with shareholders and corporations to disclose GHG emissions of major corporations around the world. It is possible to obtain a copy of the Company’s response to the CDP’s climate change questionnaire in 2014 from their website.


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In 2014, the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council announced that it will establish a new labelling scheme for embodied carbon of selected construction materials. Although we support this initiative, we believe that it will take significant time for the market in low-carbon products to mature in Hong Kong.



Research by climate scientists around the world provides increasingly accurate information about the projected impacts of climate change over the next 20 to 100 years. If significant reductions in GHG emissions are not achieved in the short term, we now know that very significant impacts may be experienced in Hong Kong over the coming decades. We are already responding to potential threats by implementing adaptation strategies to address the direct impacts of climate change on our business.


Major Drivers of Climate Change Impacts in Hong Kong

Annual Mean Temperature expected to increase by 1.5–3°C by 2060 and 3–6°C by 2100.

Average Annual Rainfall expected To increase by 11% by 2100.

Extreme Rain - Rain events exceeding 100mm of rainfall per hour to occur more frequently.

Coastal Flooding - Cities in the Pearl River Delta, including parts of Hong Kong and Shenzhen, are at risk of flooding from major storm surges combined with rising sea levels.


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The Hong Kong Observatory provides extensive information about climate change on its website, including projections for Hong Kong’s climate in the 21st century.


Heavy Rain and Flooding

Railway structures are designed and built for a lifespan of over 100 years. In preparation for the longer term effects of climate change, we regularly review our Design Standard Manual to ensure that new railway projects have appropriate protection for 1:200 year rainfall events. We also inspect and assess our existing railway infrastructure on a regular basis to ensure its robustness in extreme weather events.

Extreme weather has the potential to disrupt normal operations and to endanger the safety of our customers. Our Operations Division has incorporated appropriate procedures into the Standing Operations Procedures Manual (SOPM) for frontline staff, including special procedures for super typhoons, strong winds and hailstorms. Our Property Division has also taken steps to ensure that there is sufficient manpower and equipment to handle serious flooding situations.

Rising Temperatures

Hotter weather will have a direct impact on Heat, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems, leading to increased maintenance requirements and higher operational costs. Extreme heat also presents a direct risk to the well-being of staff and contractors, especially those working on construction sites. With reference to advice published by the Hong Kong Labour Department, we have put strong guidelines in place governing outdoor work on hot weather days.


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During 2014, we published MTR Typhoon Travelling Tips, a guide to promote safe travel for passengers during extreme weather.