Press Release

【Press Release】Friends of the Earth (HK) Response to the 2022 Policy Address - Government must close gap between vision and policy

The chief executive announced the "2022 Policy Address” today. Friends of the Earth (HK) welcomes the move to introduce a bill to regulate disposable plastic tableware and other plastic products. We also acknowledge the preparation to set up a supersite for regional air quality laboratory and meteorology monitoring for strengthening collaboration on climate change and air pollution within the Greater Bay Area. Still, we are very disappointed with the government’s environmental policies lacking in long-term vision. Although it targets to become carbon neutral before 2050, the government has thus far failed to propose any strong climate policies to mitigate and adapt to the risks and impacts of climate change.

In response to this policy address, Friends of the Earth (HK) strongly urges the government to adopt the following recommendations:

Climate change

1.Promoting Renewable Energy: Decarbonising the electricity grid remains the most direct and effective means of carbon reduction. Hong Kong has to lead and invest in its rich RE potential, green hydrogen economy, and collaborate with the Greater Bay Area to establish a clean energy system.

2.Pricing Carbon Emission:Carbon-emitting activities do not yet bear their true cost. Hong Kong has to put a price on carbon through carbon tax or emission trade to reflect the polluter pays principle and to drive the adoption of low-carbon solutions.

3.Promoting sustainable consumption:A significant portion of the city’s true emission is hidden in the consumption of various goods and services. Hong Kong has to address these carbon emissions and promote responsible consumption and healthier diets.

4.Enhancing climate change education and training: Climate education is lacking in Hong Kong’s school curriculum. Hong Kong has to provide the appropriate level of training to school educators and update the school curricula on climate change. It also has to devote more resources into promoting the green industry and cultivating talents for a green, low-carbon society.

5.Strengthening climate adaptation:The weather has gotten more extreme under climate change. Hong Kong has to better help its citizens adapt to the impacts of climate change, whether it is strengthening coastal infrastructure, adopting sponge city measure to reduce flood risk, and more.

Air Quality

1.Accelerating EV transition:More and more international cities are committed to banning fossil fuel cars by 2030. Hong Kong has to tighten the target date in electrifying all public transportation and commercial vehicles and set more concrete interim targets to reduce pollution and green the transport network.

2.Implementing electronic road pricing: Traffic congestion from private cars—electric or not—cannot be ignored. Hong Kong has to establish ERP in central business districts and busy roads to encourage motorists to adopt sustainable modes of transport.

3.Becoming pedestrian-friendly:Walking and cycling help reduce noise and air pollution, facilitate social, cultural and tourism activities, and more. Hong Kong has to enable walking and cycling as viable modes of transport to foster a more pedestrian and cycling-friendly, low-carbon city.

Circular Economy

1.Expanding producer responsibility:Hong Kong has to expand producer responsibility at a faster pace to cover all single-use beverage packaging formats, other packaging waste, and food waste to tackle the city’s ongoing waste issues.

2.Tackling urban yard waste:Hong Kong has to address urban yard waste by requiring onsite composting for urban public parks and gardens, setting up wood shredders on vacant government sites to be shared by local districts, and providing subsidies for purchasing composting equipment.

3.Supporting the recycling industry:Hong Kong cannot rely solely on waste treatment facilities to handle its waste. Hong Kong has to modernise the recycling industry and collaborate with the Greater Bay Area to process recyclables and put recycled materials back into the value chain again.

Sustainable Development

1.Enhancing urban forests and trees:Urban forests and trees help improve the city. Hong Kong has to realise their importance in the sustainable development of a liveable city, clearly defining the role and function of trees as green infrastructure and streamlining the tree management hierarchy.

2.Safeguarding our country parks: Hong Kong has to safeguard country parks, recognising that they do not only serve to conserve the ecosystem, but also provide a natural carbon sink and a free venue for recreation and outdoor education to the community.

3.Becoming a sustainable, smart city:Many cities are now digitalising urban services to become more intelligent. Hong Kong has to build up the digital infrastructure for a smart city transformation and for a more informed environmental policymaking and monitoring ecosystem.

Green Finance

1.Transforming into a regional carbon trading centre: Carbon trading is a potential source of greenfield investments. Hong Kong should establish a pilot in the Greater Bay Area immediately to accelerate its transition towards a carbon trading hub and digital economy.

2.Nurturing local green finance talents: Green finance education and training is still in its infancy for Hong Kong. Hong Kong should fund NGOs introducing ESG and green finance curricula into schools and postgraduate programmes to expedite ESG talent incubation in Hong Kong.

As an international and leading city in the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong must lead by example. The government has to address the discrepancy between its touted goals and actual policies by closing that gap.


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