A climate action checklist by Friends of the Earth (HK) for the HK government
| Dr Jeffrey Hung, Chief Executive Officer of FoE (HK)
The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference ended on 13 November and finally reached the "Glasgow Climate Pact", the first climate agreement that clearly stipulates the gradual phase-out of coal. The two largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, China and the United States, also issued the "U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s”. The two sides pledged to work together to strengthen the implementation of the "Paris Agreement”.
The "climate clock" is counting down to an irreversible climate disaster. Friends of the Earth (HK) expects the government to speed up in achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and work with the world to prevent this climate catastrophe.
1. Promote energy transition: The government plans to rely on natural gas as a transition fuel, which not only slows down the progress of renewable energy development, but also can leak the powerful greenhouse gas, methane, during the extraction and transportation process, and intensify global warming. Hong Kong has a subtropical climate and is absolutely capable of developing large-scale offshore wind and solar farms. The government must take a lead, requiring all government buildings and public facilities, such as government buildings, universities, hospitals, public houses, railway stations, airports, stadiums, parks, and more, to install distributed renewable energy systems. In the long run, the government should strengthen cooperation with the mainland and set up dedicated connection to import renewable energy for Hong Kong.
2. Develop a hydrogen economy: Hydrogen not only can be used as a fuel for power generation, but also an important energy carrier. It provides power for fuel cells and can be directly used in automobiles, mechanical devices and building equipment. The government should speed up the formulation of a hydrogen energy roadmap, invest resources in scientific innovation, and at the same time promote cooperation with neighboring countries to establish a "green hydrogen" supply chain and actively develop the hydrogen economy.
3. Enhance the energy efficiency of buildings: Buildings account for 90% of Hong Kong’s overall electricity consumption. The government must regularly tighten the "Building Energy Code" and conduct energy audits, retro-commissioning and life cycle assessments for all buildings, including embedded carbon of building materials to reduce the overall energy consumption of buildings. In terms of demand management, the government must speed up the installation of smart meters and require all buildings to install energy management systems. The government should also consider a time-of-use tariff mechanism to reduce electricity consumption during peak hours.
4. Establish low-carbon transportation: Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong. The government should speed up in enacting the electrification roadmap of public transportation and commercial vehicles and exploring the application of hydrogen fuel vehicles in Hong Kong. The current government fleet has more than 6,700 vehicles. The government must take the lead in electrifying all government vehicles. Furthermore, the government must quicken the implementation of transport policies, including the implementation of electronic road pricing, the establishment of more low-emission zones, the inclusion of footpaths and cycling tracks in urban planning, and restrictions on the licensing of private cars.
5. Strengthen resource and waste management: Hong Kong’s municipal solid waste has no shortage of reusable resources. The government must implement policies on aspects of waste collection, reuse and recycling, such as accelerating the implementation of Municipal Solid Waste Charging Scheme, expanding the scope of Producer Responsibility Schemes, and implementing landfill bans on recyclable and biodegradable waste. In addition, the government, as the largest procurement unit in the Hong Kong society, must strictly implement the green procurement guidelines and promote a local circular economy.
6. Implement the carbon pricing mechanism: The principle of carbon pricing is to incorporate the cost of climate change into economic considerations and promote low-carbon transformation of enterprises. The World Bank pointed out that more than 65 regions around the world have implemented carbon pricing and have achieved remarkable carbon reductions. In addition to the carbon emission quota allocated by the government to enterprises, China’s carbon market also adopted the "Chinese Certified Emission Reduction (CCER)” certification, which uses carbon reduction projects like renewable energy and ecological carbon sinks as an offset mechanism to effectively improve market liquidity and corporate participation. Hong Kong must implement carbon pricing in the future, requiring corporates to bear the environmental costs of climate change.
7. Promote green finance: Hong Kong has a sound financial system and is absolutely capable to lead the market in financing carbon reduction and green projects. To promote Hong Kong as a green finance hub, the government should adopt an internationally recognized green and sustainable finance framework and allocate more resources to cultivate green finance talents. In addition, Hong Kong should promote the development of green insurance and provide insurance risk management services and insurance fund support for environmental projects such as clean energy, new energy vehicles, and green buildings, so as to reduce the operating risks of green credit and broaden the financing channels for green industries.
The "Office of Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality” established by the government must regularly disclose and review Hong Kong's carbon reduction strategy and progress, and coordinate various government departments to strictly implement the climate action plan. The government promises to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Would the legislative councilors of the next section fulfil their supervisory responsibilities? Citizens, please vote wisely for environmental protection!