Earth Chat

How "Green" are LegCo Candidates?

The 7th Legislative Council Election in Hong Kong is approaching. How "green” are the legislative council candidates? Friends of the Earth (HK) conducted a survey with 143 candidates who provided their email address over the past week to understand their views on climate change, low-carbon transportation, circular economy and green finance. Only 16 candidates replied to the survey, namely Wong Sing Chi, Lau Cheuk Yu, Chan Chun Hung, Poon Chuk Hung Jason, Wong Wing Ho Allan, Zhang Xinyu, Lam Wing Sze, Chen Xiaofeng, Zeman Allan, Chan Siu Hung, Ma Fung Kwok, Yiu Pak Leung, Tse Wai Chuen Tony, Wong Wang Tai, So Wai Leung William, and Shum Ho Kit. The overall response rate is 11.19%. Friends of the Earth (HK) is disappointed that most of the candidates are indifferent to the environment.

The Climate Clock is Ringing
Once-in-a-century droughts and 1,000-year heavy rains—these extreme weather events have already become the new normal. It is urgent to deal with climate change. The International Energy Agency published the "Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector” this year, which emphasized that the world should not invest in fossil fuel projects and renewable energy must become the main energy source. In our survey, more than 93% of the interviewed candidates support the government in formulating a timeline to phase out fossil fuels. Meanwhile, more than 93% support importing renewable energy from the mainland through dedicated lines, and more than 87% support Hong Kong to set up a stable green hydrogen supply chain with neighbouring countries.

The world is actively developing renewable energy. The International Energy Agency mentioned that in 2021, the proportion of renewable energy in the global power generation structure will reach a historical high of 30%, with half of the growth originating from China. At the same time, many countries have implemented their national hydrogen energy strategies. For instance, Australia plans to construct the largest green hydrogen facility in the world, with an estimated annual output of 3.5 million tons of hydrogen gas.

Circular Economy a Win-win for the Environment and the Economy
Hong Kong is facing a serious waste crisis. If the volume of waste disposal continues to rise, the society will bear huge environmental and economic cost. Hong Kong needs a comprehensive waste management strategy and formulate policies in all areas of waste management, including the reduction of waste at source, reuse, collection, separation, recovery, recycling and disposal. In our survey, more than 87% of the interviewed candidates support the expansion of the "Producer Responsibility Scheme”. Besides, more than 87% support the implementation of a landfill ban to strengthen the recycling system and promote the sustainable development of the recycling industry.

In recent years, governments of various countries are actively developing a circular economy. For instance, the European Union implemented the "Circular Economy Action Plan” in 2020 and incorporated sustainable product policies in the laws and regulations. This ensures that the product designs are more durable, easier for reuse, repair and recycle, and use more renewable materials as raw materials. Hong Kong must be in line with the world to promote and develop a circular economy, otherwise it will miss the opportunity to achieve a win-win situation for the environment and the economy.

Air Pollution an Invisible Killer
The World Health Organization mentioned that seven million people die from air pollution every year. As a densely populated metropolis, Hong Kong has serious air pollution issues. In particular, vehicular exhaust adversely affects people’s health. In our survey, all surveyed candidates supported speeding up the electrification roadmap for public transport and commercial vehicles and at the same time actively exploring the application of hydrogen vehicles. In fact, many cities around the world are actively electrifying public transport. For instance, Seoul plans to convert 40% of buses to electric buses before 2025, and Shenzhen has already achieved full electrification of public transport as early as 2017.

Regarding low-carbon travel modes, more than 85% of surveyed candidates support the integration of footpaths and bike lanes into urban planning. The government should implement pedestrian and bicycle-friendly policies to improve the pedestrian and cycling facilities in the urban roads and comprehensively promote a green and low-carbon travel mode within the society.

The Global Trend of Green Finance
The Hong Kong government launched numerous blueprints in the past year, which covered resource recycling, electric vehicles, clean air, and climate change, and pledged to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050. The green and low-carbon transition has become a global trend. It is expected to create great opportunities for economic and societal development.

In our survey, nearly 94% of the surveyed candidates support promoting the green insurance industry to reduce the operational risks of green credit and to broaden the financing channels for green industries. In the long-term, the government should also allocate more resources to train green finance talents, while corporates must seize the opportunity to incorporate ESG concepts into their decision-making process, to promote sustainable business development.

The legislative council election is approaching. Please cast your vote for the environment and elect legislative councilors with environmental responsibilities. At the same time, please join together in monitoring the legislative council and supervise the implementation of carbon neutral climate actions and various environmental policies. This helps to promote Hong Kong’s low-carbon transformation in search for green vitality and business opportunities.

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