Friends of the Earth (HK) Urges Chief Executive Candidate Integrate Climate Action into Manifesto
In the third part of the climate report released this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed that if the world does not make immediate and deep cuts to emissions, limiting global warming to 1.5°C will be beyond reach. The Hong Kong government must demonstrate determination and accelerate the implementation of a strong climate strategy to achieve carbon neutrality.
Friends of the Earth (HK) lists the following climate actions and urges the chief executive candidate, Mr. John Lee Ka Chiu, to incorporate into his manifesto. Clear goals, policy measures, and a timetable must be set to actively promote Hong Kong’s vision of net zero by 2050:
1. Renewable Energy: The use of natural gas to replace coal and the target to increase the share of renewable energy to 15% of the energy mix is far from what Hong Kong needs to do achieve carbon neutrality. Hong Kong must completely phase out fossil fuels and should collaborate with the Greater Bay Area to tap into the abundant wealth of renewable energy sources in the region.
2. Hydrogen Economy: Full electrification of energy consumption may be difficult, particularly with some industrial processes and transportation modes. The government should develop a roadmap for a hydrogen economy.
3. Building Energy Code: The building sector is the major source of carbon emission in Hong Kong—accounting for 90% of electricity demand. The Government must update and strengthen the building energy codes regularly to ensure a continual reduction in building energy use and to reach zero emission by 2050
4. Building Operation: Building energy management system and smart meter integration can enable finer control over consumption patterns. The government should work with the power companies to expedite the installation of smart meters in all residences and mandate buildings to install building energy management systems.
5. Low-Carbon Transport: Transportation accounts for second largest share of greenhouse gas emission in the city and also contributes to roadside air pollution. Hong Kong must electrify its commercial and public transportation on a much earlier schedule.
6. Carbon Pricing: Carbon-emitting activities are still socialising negative externalities and not priced to reflect their true cost on the society. Hong Kong must set a price on carbon to reflect the polluter pays principle and to drive the adoption of low-carbon solutions.
7. Green Finance: As one of the top international finance centre, Hong Kong can leverage its robust infrastructure to accelerate this low-carbon transition. The city should be developing its green finance talent pool and aligning with globally-recognised green and sustainability standards to establish itself as a global green financial centre of the future.
8. Reforestation: Large-scale restoration of natural environments, such as forests and mangroves, is one of the most effective means to capture atmospheric carbon. The government needs to preserve existing natural environments and restore degraded ecosystems.
9. Carbon Capture and Storage: Besides tree planting, the government should invest in research and development to explore the different carbon removal strategies to address climate change without unintended consequences.
As a coastal city, Hong Kong is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The government must show ambition in its climate actions and join the world to defuse the climate crisis.