Earth Chat

Letter to the Legislative Councillor

Dear Legislative Councillors,

Congratulation on being seated in the seventh Legislative Council. Much work is waiting to be done, as Hong Kong continues to face crises in climate change, air pollution, and waste. Many legislators promised to safeguard the livelihoods of people. Would you now keep true to your words by protecting their health and livelihood—and by extension, the environment of Hong Kong?

Carbon Neutrality

Climate change is threatening the world with rising temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather. Last year, China was struck by severe floods across several provinces. Henan alone reported over 300 deaths, 50 missing people, and around RMB¥82 billion in property damages.

The Hong Kong government has pledged to cut carbon emissions by half by 2035 and become carbon neutral by 2050. Its climate plan however doesn’t show a clear path of how it intends to reach those goals.

Legislators have to hold the government accountable to its pledge by demanding for a greater supply of renewable energy—from both local development and regional collaboration. In Jiangsu, China’s largest offshore wind farm went into full operation last month, expecting to power 900,000 households.[1]Hong Kong should work with the Greater Bay Area to tap into the abundant wealth of renewable energy in the region, instead of bemoaning how difficult it is to produce locally in the city.

It would also help to follow the mainland in putting a price on carbon to drive a low carbon transition. China launched the world’s largest emission trading scheme by volume in July, covering more than four billion tonnes of carbon in the power sector.

Air Quality

Despite massive improvements made over the years, air pollution continues to place a massive healthcare burden on the society. It is also inherently unfair to poorer and less educated individuals who often live and work closer to where air quality is at its worst.[2]

Nitrogen dioxide pollution, particularly on the roadside, regularly exceeds Hong Kong’s own Air Quality Objectives and far beyond what’s recommended by the World Health Organisation. While the government boasts the city’s public transport backbone and actions to combat emissions from commercial vehicles, little is done to address the number of private cars, which indirectly contribute to worsening air quality by congesting roads.

Legislators must press the government to introduce the long-overdue electronic road pricing and a vehicle quota system to tackle rising car numbers. Congestion pricing for example has already been in discussion in Hong Kong for more than 40 years. During that period, similar policies have been adopted across different international cities with much success.[3]

Circular Economy

Waste management is a long-time issue for Hong Kong. While the council recently passed the municipal solid waste charging bill (but has not entered into effect yet), many cities are trying to develop a circular economy. Despite China having the largest recycling industry in the world, Hong Kong still doesn’t have a holistic waste management system.

Organic and plastic waste in Hong Kong still makes up for the majority of the over 10,000 tonnes of waste being disposed of in the city’s landfills every day.[4]Increasing convenience of online shopping will produce more and more packaging waste to be dealt with.

It is high time for Hong Kong to go beyond the pilot scale and set up a city-wide system for collecting and recycling food and organic waste. Beyond tableware and beverage packaging waste, legislators have to demand expanding producer responsibility to cover more waste items and encourage more sustainable product designs and a truly closed loop.

We look forward to seeing how the seventh term of legislative council will work with the government on the many environmental issues and uphold their promise to safeguard the health and livelihood of Hong Kong.

Interested Topic:
City Forestry, Forestry City
Green Economy
Carbon Neutrality
Air Quality
Circular Economy

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