As The 26th United Nations Climate Change
Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK is coming to a close, the world is still
seeking consensus on ways to achieve net zero emission. Friends of the Earth
(HK) has collaborated with World Benchmarking Alliance to co-host the
“Carbon Neutrality Forum” yesterday and invited Mr. Joseph Chan, JP, Under
Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the Hong Kong SAR
government, Chair of World Benchmarking Alliance, Mr. Paul Druckman and the
Head of Green and Sustainable Finance from the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
Limited, Ms. Grace Hui as key speakers at the forum and to analyze the latest
developments in green finance at a global and local level, also to discuss the
performance of Asian oil and gas companies’ low carbon transition. The aim is
to strengthen the ability of our next generation to cope with climate crisis
and to further establish and improve the green financial education system.
Strengthen the ability of our
next generation to cope with climate crisis and to further establish and
improve the green financial education system
This year’s UN Climate Change Conference has
repeatedly warned the little time we have left for the world to combat climate
change. The world has only eight years to halve carbon emissions and control
global temperature to pre-industrial levels in order to contain the crisis we
are now facing.
Friends of the Earth (HK) believes Green finance is a necessary tool
to help mitigate climate change and plays an integral part in helping our
future generation. In view of this, Friends of the Earth (HK) is
committed to establish a comprehensive Green Finance Education System by
introducing the first internationally recognized Certified Environmental,
Social, Governance Analyst (CESGA®) certification program in Hong Kong at the
end of last year. Over the past 12 months, Friends of the Earth (HK)
have successfully trained over 100 locally Certified ESG Analysts. Enrollment
for the physical examination of the CESGA program has doubled for the December
intake and the inaugural CESGA Scholarship program is established to encourage
younger generation to take part in the green finance industry.
CESGA Scholarship Program to nurture young ESG talents
This year, Friends of the Earth (HK)
has set up the CESGA Scholarship Program which aims to encourage the future
generation to pursue an ESG-inspired career in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay
Area and also to commit to green finance development in Hong Kong.
We welcome applicants with a bachelor degree
holder from any university in Hong Kong graduated within the last 3 years and
with good academic standing (a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0
in a 4.0-scale); or A full-time student in any universities in Hong Kong with a
cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 in a 4.0-scale.
Each awardee will receive a grant of
HK$10,000 to attend the CESGA examination in the ‘presential’ / physical format
in the Hong Kong examination center for the 2022 March intake.
WBA has published “The Oil and
Gas Industry Benchmark” and Global State-owned Enterprises are Comparatively
Slower to Transit than Private Enterprises
Another focus of the forum is the recent report issued by WBA where “The Oil and Gas industry Benchmark” was referenced at the panelist’s discussion. Oil and gas companies are one of the largest carbon emitters in the world and monitoring the performance of the industry’s low-carbon transition becomes critically important to achieving emission reduction targets. “The Oil and Gas Industry Benchmark” primarily assesses the top 100 most influential listed oil and gas companies in the world against the pledge made at Paris Agreement which is to limit the Global average temperatures from raising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Research has indicated that State-owned enterprises are slower to transform than private enterprises. Poorer performance implies a greater risk posed for State-owned enterprises compared with listed and private enterprises in relation to climate risk. 41 state-owned enterprises are responsible for 56% of the total emission of the 100 companies covered by the benchmark. In addition, many of the related countries fails to commit to any net-zero targets which is extremely worrying. NGOs and other related stakeholders are also limited in their ability to promote change. The report suggests that the key to success is for the company to set short to long term emission reduction targets and allows for transparency so that external stakeholders can fully assess the progress made.
Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)
The U.N. summit in Glasgow, known as COP26, brought together thousands of diplomats, scientists and environmental activists from around the world to assess progress since the Paris climate accord was signed in 2015. It is being held from 31 Oct 2021 to 12 Nov 2022.
COP stands for “Conference of the Parties.” The parties refer to 197 nations that agreed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at a meeting in 1992. Officials from 197 countries gather in one to discuss how they are solving the climate crisis. This is the 26th time countries have gathered under the convention, hence, COP26. COP26 was due to be held in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
What happens at COP
They are a platform for
achieving consensus on cutting emissions and adapting to the extreme weather
events caused by rising temperatures and sea levels. A sticking point of
negotiations over the years has been allowing for poor countries to develop
their economies while recognizing that rich nations have grown wealthy because
they were able to pollute.
In 2009, the COP process suffered a major setback after leaders failed to agree on a global deal in Copenhagen. Six years later, talks were back on track, leading to the Paris Agreement — the international effort to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels, with a “stretch target” of 1.5°C.
Why is this year special?
America’s climate envoy John Kerry says the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow is the “last best hope for the world to get its act together”. Mr Kerry told the BBC that key countries were pursuing policies that border on being “very dangerous”. It’s time for signatory countries to update their initial pledges to help achieve the Paris goals. These promises are called NDCs — Nationally Determined Contributions — and most date back to 2016, when the Paris Agreement took effect. It was clear that initial commitments wouldn’t be enough, so countries agreed to come back in 2020 with “enhanced” NDCs. But many countries haven’t yet submitted their new plans, including China and India, some of the world’s biggest emitters.
Part of the problem is that wealthy countries haven’t delivered on their decade-old pledge to mobilize $100 billion a year to help poor countries deal with the hazards of climate change, such as storms, floods and rising sea levels. Countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia say they can’t raise their emissions ambition without more cash from developed countries.
Who is lagging on their commitments?
While many European countries and U.K. have increased their climate aid, the U.S. hasn’t kept pace. At the UN on Sept. 21, Biden doubled the latest U.S. pledge to $11.4 billion annually beginning in 2024, but that still has to be approved by Congress, and activists argue it doesn’t come close to the U.S.’s fair share for the fund. The U.S. fell behind partly because former President Donald Trump temporarily pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accord.
Days before it hosts United Nations negotiations over how to ramp up the global fight against climate change, the U.K. released a sweeping plan to decarbonize its economy by targeting everything from the finance industry to home heating. What are the other challenges?
The global energy crunch also threatens to make the Glasgow talks more difficult as fossil fuel producers and some developing nations use the crisis to argue for a slower transition.
What about China?
President Xi Jinping has not left China for almost two years but there are hopes that he may yet make a surprise appearance. In a boost to the summit, China hailed Cop26 as ‘deeply significant’ and pledged to send a delegation, which will include special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua, who said that China wanted to work with the international community and would do its best to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.