If Hong Kong’s new Legislative Council wants to protect livelihoods, start with the environment (Issue Date: 8 January, 2022)

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 2050.

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

Interested Topic:
Climate Change
Waste - Food & Apparel
Green Economy

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