Press Release

【Press Release】Friends of the Earth (HK) Response to the 2023-24 Budget

[Press Release]

Friends of the Earth (HK)
Response to the
2023-24 Budget

Don’t miss sustainable development in push for economic recovery

(Hong Kong, Feb 22, 2023)The Financial Secretary announced the 2023-24 Budget today. Friends of the Earth (HK) is pleased to hear about the announcement of a "Green Technology and Finance Development Committee” to promote Hong Kong as an international green technology and finance centre; an injection of $200 million to fund trials of hydrogen fuel cell electric double-deck buses and heavy vehicles; and a 100% guarantee loan scheme to replace taxis with battery electric taxis.

Although the government talks big in promoting Hong Kong as a competitive, liveable city, Friends of the Earth (HK) is disappointed by the continued sluggish pace in promoting sustainable development.

Friends of the Earth (HK)urges the government to put money where its mouth is to help Hong Kong transition towards a greener and more sustainable economy by:

1.Renewable energy: Hong Kong needs to wean off fossil fuels if it intends to reach net zero by 2050. The government must both invest in the development of local renewable energy infrastructure and strengthen regional cooperation to import renewable energy.

2.Demand side energy efficiency: Around 30% of electricity generated in Hong Kong goes towards air conditioning. The government should subsidise families to switch to more energy-efficient appliances and building owners to retrofit to reduce energy use.

3.Storm and flood resilience: Hong Kong is vulnerable to many weather-related threats that are exacerbated by climate change. The government must enhance the city’s ability to adapt to and withstand against coastal flooding and storm surges.

4.Carbon pricing: Since 2022, 68 jurisdictions, including China, now have explicit carbon pricing mechanisms in some form. The government must align with the world and implement carbon pricing to reflect producer responsibility on carbon emission.

5.Electronic road pricing and more: Electric and new energy vehicles indirectly create roadside air pollution by contributing to traffic congestion. The government needs to tackle traffic congestion and curb the number of private cars on road by implementing electronic road pricing, increasing registration tax and licence fees, and introducing a vehicle quota system.

6.Green public transport and commercial vehicles: Many international cities have committed to more ambitious targets, pledging for major areas to be fossil fuel-free by 2030. The government must fast-track the greening of public and commercial transport to reduce carbon emission and tackle roadside air pollution.

7.A pedestrian and cycling-friendly city: Walking and cycling are healthy, low-carbon modes of transport. The government must devote more resources into designing Hong Kong into a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly city to encourage more sustainable modes of travel.

8.Circular economy: Hong Kong’s per capita waste disposal rates returned to the highest level. The government must support the sustainable development of the recycling industry through land provision and upgrading recycling operations.

9.Producer responsibility: Plastics however just make up for one part of the some-11 thousand tonnes of waste entering landfills every day. The government must expand the scope of producer responsibility to cover more products and encourage manufacturers and suppliers to develop more sustainable products.

10.Urban forestry: Urban vegetation are often taken for granted and overlooked despite the vast number of benefits they bring to cities. The government must invest in enhancing urban forests and trees for Hong Kong to promote greater liveability.

11.Smart city:Many cities are now enhancing the quality and performance of urban services by becoming more intelligent through digitalisation. The government must invest into building up the digital infrastructure for a more informed environmental policymaking and monitoring ecosystem.

12.Education for sustainable development: The implementation and effectiveness of green policies is reliant on an educated society. The government must provide the appropriate level of resource to train educators and promote environmental concepts.

13.Oversight of ESG and climate-related financial risks: The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has introduced the new Supervisory Policy Manual module GS-1 on climate risk management for financial institutions and corporates. Listed companies and all financial institutions should have much better board oversight of climate-related financial risks integrated into both regulatory frameworks and supervisory expectations.

With the government poised to lead Hong Kong to economic recovery, instead of simply returning to business-as-usual, this should be an opportunity to make inroads towards low-carbon sustainable development.

Encl. Friends of the Earth (HK) Response to the 2023-24 Budget Consultation

Interested Topic:
City Forestry, Forestry City
Climate Change
Eco City
Green Economy

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