Letter to the Legislative Councillor
| Policy Research and Advocacy Team, Friends of the Earth (HK)
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?
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
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.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.
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.
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.
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.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.