Friends of the Earth (HK) Response to the 2021 Policy Address : Forward and Backward, Hong Kong Needs to Shift High Gear to Achieve Zero Carbon and Zero Waste
The 2021 Policy
Address is released today. It is good to see a greater focus on climate and
waste policies after last year’s performance. Friends of the Earth (HK) praises the government for adopting our
recommendation to set up an office for coordinating climate actions and
decarbonisation strategy. We also welcome the logical decision to have the
Environmental Protection Department to oversee resource management—we expect this
to improve waste recycling and reduction efforts in Hong Kong.
Friends of the Earth (HK) is however
disappointed to hear that, despite the move to resume brownfields, the
government intends to further devastate the natural environment through
increasing land reclamation efforts and eyeing to develop green belts.
In particular, Friends of the Earth (HK) urges the
government consider the following climate policies:
1. Renewable Energy: The target to
increase the share of renewable energy to 15% of the energy mix is a far cry
from what Hong Kong needs to do achieve carbon neutrality when electricity
generation contributes the most to the city’s carbon emission. Instead of
relying on natural gas, Hong Kong should be working with the Greater Bay Area
to harness the region’s still-untapped potential in solar, onshore and offshore
wind, and tidal energy.
2.Carbon Pricing: While Friends of the Earth (HK) supports the move to
assess Hong Kong’s potential of becoming a regional carbon trading centre,
carbon-emitting activities in the city still do not bear their true cost. Hong
Kong should follow the global trend to internalise
the negative environmental externalities and put a price on carbon.
3. Low-Carbon Transport: Commercial and public transportation must be
electrified much earlier than the current proposed target of only setting a
timetable around 2025. This should be supported with walking and cycling
policies to promote alternative low-carbon, healthy modes of transport.
4. Green Finance: To strengthen Hong
Kong as a regional green and sustainable finance hub, the government embrace
international best practices and incubate professionals on ESG and green
finance. The city should further support impact underwriting in insurance and
insurance linked market to drive sustainable and net zero insurance.
5.Policy Orientation: The government is the biggest and most significant
player in driving large-scale changes. Hong Kong’s sustainable, low-carbon
shift requires a recognition this should be the overarching goal of the
government and not that of a single bureau. Bureaux and departments must work
together—and not as silos—to integrate environmental policies in a holistic
Friends of the Earth (HK) looks forward to
reading the "Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050” in depth to see how the
government intends to lead the city to a climate-resilient economy and future.
Friends of the Earth (HK) Submission on the 2021 Policy Address (link)
Photo's credit: Inhabitat