Support UN Climate Action Summit Let's decarbonise Hong Kong Together
Climate change is happening and getting worse. In the face of the climate crisis, leaders from government, business, and civil society gathered at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on 23 September to develop climate action plans.
As a coastal city, Hong Kong is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The Government must recognise the need to address climate change by adopting the 1.5°C target from the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming and prepare a long-term strategy for rapid and deep decarbonisation before 2050. Friends of the Earth (HK) makes the following general recommendations for mitigation of climate change:
Develop Renewable Energy
Decarbonising the electricity grid is one of the most effective means for Hong Kong to reduce its carbon footprint. As a coastal city near the equator, Hong Kong can benefit from wind and solar resources to a large degree. Beyond local development, Hong Kong can also work with neighbouring cities in the Greater Bay Area to gain access to the wealth of renewable energy sources nearby.
Enhance Building Energy Efficiency
A good deal of the city’s electricity is consumed by buildings. The Government should strengthen the building energy codes for new and existing buildings. In addition, the Government should require the construction industry to source alternative low-carbon or carbon sink building materials for new buildings.
Reduce Transportation Emissions
The transport sector contributes around 18% of the local greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong. The Government should implement congestion pricing and low-emission zones and cap private car ownership. At the same time, the Government should electrify all public transport and, in alignment with other international cities, plan for the gradual elimination and banning of all vehicles with internal combustion engines.
Facilitate Sustainable Lifestyles
Based on a consumption-based accounting method, the city’s per-capita emissions are comparable to those of the United States. Pursuing a healthier diet would cut Hong Kong’s consumption emissions by over 40%. The Government should promote healthy and sustainable diets and lifestyle choices to reduce consumption emissions.
Implement Carbon Pricing
Carbon-emitting activities are subsidised directly by financial mechanisms like tax credits or indirectly by failing to price in the negative externalities of climate change. Today, around 40 countries and over 20 states and cities have implemented some form of carbon pricing as a corrective measure. The Government should implement the most appropriate form of carbon pricing for Hong Kong.
Promote Green Finance
Transforming Hong Kong into a sustainable and liveable city will need significant investments in new infrastructures and technologies. The Government should consolidate Hong Kong's position as the regional leader in green finance. Both private and public sectors should develop a comprehensive ESG database for data assessment and analytics. Most importantly, we strongly recommend the Government to assign a Green Finance Commissioner under the Financial Secretary Office to provide leadership and oversight for the development of the green finance industry in Hong Kong.
Photo source: United Nations - Climate Action Summit 2019