If Hong Kong’s new Legislative Council wants to protect livelihoods, start with the environment (Issue Date: 8 January, 2022)
| South China Morning Post
| Wendell Chan, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, Friends of the Earth (HK)
Hong Kong's 90 newly elected lawmakers have sworn an oath of
allegiance on Monday, marking the start of the new term of the Legislative
Council. Many legislators promised to safeguard the livelihoods of people.
Would they now keep true to their words, which by extension means protecting the
environment of Hong Kong?
For one, climate change is threatening the world with rising
temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather. The Hong Kong government has
pledged to cut carbon emissions by half by 2035 and become carbon neutral by
Legislators have to hold the government accountable by demanding for
a greater supply of renewable energy—from both local development and regional
collaboration. Last month, China’s largest offshore wind farm went into full operation in Jiangsu.
Hong Kong should tap into the Greater
Bay Area’s abundant wealth of renewable energy, instead of bemoaning how
difficult it is to produce locally in the city. It
would also help to follow the mainland and global trends in pricing carbon to
drive a low carbon transition.
Despite massive improvements made over the years, air pollution still
places a massive healthcare burden on the society—more heavily on poorer
individuals and communities. Nitrogen dioxide pollution, particularly on the
roadside, regularly exceeds Hong Kong’s own Air Quality Objectives.
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 policies has already been in discussion in Hong
Kong for more than 40 years. During that period, different international cities
have such policies with much success.
Waste continues to be a long-time issue for Hong Kong. Particularly,
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. It is high time for Hong Kong to go beyond pilots and set up a city-wide system
for collecting and recycling food and organic waste.
Beyond tableware and beverage packaging waste, legislators also have
to demand expanding producer responsibility to cover more waste items—particular
packaging waste from online shopping—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.
photo source: SCMP