Rainfall of the century turns Hong Kong into a sea overnight Friends of the Earth (HK) calls for urgent climate action plan
(Hong Kong, 8 September 2023) The remnants of Typhoon Haikui brought heavy rainfall to Hong Kong. This is the heaviest rainstorm Hong Kong has suffered since records began in 1884, breaking the record for the longest duration of Black Rainstorm Warning Signal and turning the city into a sea. Extreme weather has become a worrying "new normal” under climate change. As global temperatures continue to rise with carbon emissions, more frequent and severe typhoons, heatwaves, and rainstorms will threaten human lives and cause significant economic losses. To effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change, Friends of the Earth (HK) urges the government to strengthen its resolve in tackling climate change to avoid climate disasters.
1. Risk assessment: Conduct a comprehensive climate risk assessment to understand the city’s climate vulnerabilities, in order to formulate effective climate policies and measures.
2. Infrastructure: Strengthen Hong Kong’s climate resilience against rising temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather through coastal flood protection, sponge city measures, and nature-based solutions.
3. Early warning system: The Hong Kong Observatory must enhance its early warning system to disseminate accurate forecasts to better prepare the public against extreme weather.
4. Contingency measures: Enhance extreme weather preparedness by formulating effective evacuation plans, stockpiling adequate emergency supplies, and establishing safe and reliable temporary shelters.
5. Town planning: Incorporate climate projections into urban design and engineering standards to future-proof infrastructure against climate impacts.
1. Renewable energy and green hydrogen: As Hong Kong’s primary source of carbon emissions, the government must rapidly phase out fossil fuels, develop renewable energy in cooperation with the Greater Bay Area, and at the same time, formulate a green hydrogen roadmap.
2. Low-carbon transport: As the second largest carbon emitter and the culprit of roadside air pollution, the government must speed up the electrification of commercial and public transportation systems.
3. Sustainable diets: Hong Kong’s meat-heavy diet contributes significantly to the city’s consumption emissions. Promoting healthier and sustainable diets should be a key component to Hong Kong’s long-term decarbonisation strategy.
4. Carbon pricing: Negative externalities of carbon-emitting acitvities are not reflected in their costs. Hong Kong must price carbon to align with the polluter pays principle and incentivise climate actions.
5. Green finance: As a top international finance centre, Hong Kong should leverage its infrastructure to accelerate the low-carbon transition. The government should develop the green finance talent pool and align with globally-recognised green and sustainability standards to establish the city as a leading global green financial centre of the future
Climate change threatens all of mankind, as extreme weather intensifies under a warming planet. If Hong Kong is to achieve a sustainable, low-carbon transition, the government must set decarbonisation as its primary goal, with all bureau and departments joining hands to formulate comprehensive climate policies. Meanwhile, the government must cooperate with the world on carbon reduction strategies to prevent irreversible climate disasters. Hong Kong must act now to build a low-carbon, sustainable and resilient future!