【Press Release】Friends of the Earth (HK) Response to the 2023 Policy Address | Be a Climate Leader to Safeguard Hong Kong Citizens
Friends of the Earth (HK) Response to the 2023 Policy Address
Be a Climate Leader to Safeguard Hong Kong
executive announced the "2023 Policy Address” today.Friends of
the Earth (HK)welcomes plans to formulate the Strategy of Hydrogen
Development in Hong Kong and a citywide green transformation roadmap and
timetable for public buses and taxis in the first half of 2024. We are pleased
to see the government incorporating sustainable aviation fuels into its
long-term decarbonisation strategy and providing funding support for
pre-commercialised green Fintech to expand the green Fintech ecosystem. Still,
climate change continues to be the most pressing issue threatening Hong Kong.
The once-in-500-years rainstorm in September showed that the city is still
underprepared against climate impacts, and that there is still a major gap
between the government’s stated climate ambition and actual actions.
In response to this policy address,Friends of the Earth
(HK)strongly urges the government to adopt the following
1. Increasing renewable energy
in the energy mix:Renewable energy is now the cheapest option for new electricity generation in
many parts of the world. While land-use and space restrictions are often cited
as local barriers, Hong Kong can foster regional collaboration on renewable
energy development and utilisation to greatly hasten decarbonisation pace.
2. Reducing building
electricity demand:Air conditioning accounts for a significant portion of the city’s electricity
use. As a hotter climate increases cooling demand, Hong Kong must
tighten the Building Energy Efficiency Ordinance and support energy efficient
building designs to limit climate impact.
3. Leading the green aviation
sector:Growth in aviation emissions has outpaced rail, road or shipping. To counter
emission growth, Hong Kong must significantly ramp up investment in sustainable
aviation fuels (SAFs) and set targets to increase their use.
4. Pricing carbon emissions
appropriately:The cost of burning of fossil fuels is currently not reflecting their
contribution to climate change and the burden on healthcare systems. Hong
Kong must put a price on carbon emission through carbon tax or emission trade
to discourage overuse and to drive low-carbon solutions.
5. Protecting citizens with
climate adaptation:More frequent and more intense extreme weather is expected under climate
change. Hong Kong must show proactiveness in developing adaptation measures to
protect citizens from climate impacts.
6. Establishing a climate
change authority:The city’s Commissioner for Climate Change is lacking in authority to influence
government policies. Hong Kong must establish a climate change authority to
lead and coordinate the government’s climate strategies.
1. Strengthening the Air
Quality Objectives (AQOs):Air pollution kills millions of people yearly. To minimise the public health
burden, Hong Kong must tighten its AQOs and strive to meet the World Health
Organisation’s final air quality guideline levels.
2. Decarbonising the transport
network:In addition to private electric vehicles, Hong Kong must expedite the
electrification of public and commercial vehicles and continue to prioritise
public transport and discourage car dependence as a long-term transport
3. Becoming a more
pedestrian-friendly city:Walkability and cyclability are increasingly seen as hallmarks of a liveable
city. Hong Kong must invest in walking and cycling infrastructure to facilitate
low-carbon and sustainable transport modes.
1. Ensuring successful rollout
for waste charging:Waste charging is a crucial component in tackling the city’s longstanding waste
issue. To prevent any further delays and facilitate a smooth rollout, Hong Kong
must build up infrastructure, provide economic support, enhance outreach, and
set up a whistleblower system.
2. Expanding coverage of
producer responsibility:To achieve the government’s waste reduction goals, Hong Kong must expand
producer responsibility at a faster pace, establish more recovery channels and
greatly expand the city’s recycling infrastructure for more waste items—with a
focus on food waste.
3. Encouraging green
procurement:More products and services are claiming to be green or sustainable, but there
are limited means of ascertaining said claims locally. Hong Kong needs to
create a certification scheme for green products and services and incentivise
businesses to prioritise procuring green and sustainable.
1. Enhancing the urban trees
and forests:Green spaces are an important piece to the puzzle of making cities liveable.
Hong Kong should strengthen tree management and develop urban forestry, by
integrating nature into urban planning and streamlining the tree management
2. Supporting the green
industry and green jobs:As the largest employer and procurer of goods and services, governments play a
pivotal role in driving green demand. Hong Kong must encourage the private
sector to embrace sustainable development by taking the lead and facilitating
the development of the green industry.
3. Becoming a sustainable,
smart city:A robust digital backbone enables sustainable initiatives and policies. Hong
Kong must embrace digitalisation to support a more informed environmental
policymaking and monitoring ecosystem.
4. Enabling sustainable
consumption and green behaviours: Embracing sustainable consumption can significantly cut
down our consumption-based carbon emission. Hong Kong has to carry out a
systematic and comprehensive overhaul of environmental and sustainability
education to enable sustainable consumption and green behaviours.
5. Fostering local and
regional collaboration:Hong Kong must foster greater collaboration with the private sector, academic
institutions, and community organisations on more environmental affairs. Hong
Kong should also partner with the Greater Bay Area on regional environmental
1. Boost market liquidity and
returns via ESG and green finance: Hong Kong should involve the wider institutional
investor base to study the impact of ESG and green finance on market valuation
and liquidity. Regulatory support and standardisation of ESG practices can
enhance investor confidence, attract sustainable-focused investors, and improve
2. Speed up the transformation
to a regional carbon trading centre: Hong Kong should expand the Core
Climate platform to include more sectors and entities over time, broadening its
impact on emissions reduction and attracting a wider array of stakeholders to
engage in carbon trading.
3. Ensure the efficacy and
success of green talent programs: Hong Kong should establish a robust framework for
quality control. The government can foster collaborative partnerships with key
stakeholders to identify the specific skills and knowledge required within the
4. Foster the growth of the
green collar workforce in APAC: Hong Kong could fund NGOs to strengthen ESG and green
finance in schools, and across the eight universities and higher education
institutions to expedite ESG talent incubation locally.
Hong Kong must
close the gap between its stated climate ambitions and actual actions. It has
to demonstrate its determination in tackling climate change and various
environmental issues with aggressive emission reduction strategies, in order to
build Hong Kong into a truly sustainable and liveable world-class city.
of the Earth (HK) Response to the 2022 Policy Address Consultation