如何令香港成為更環保的城市?通過填補資金缺口!/ How Do We Make Hong Kong a Greener City ? By Filling the Funding Gaps !

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問 Alexandra Tracy

綠色城市對發展低碳及具氣候抗禦力的未來至為重要。

到2030年,預計將有超過5.5億人遷移到亞洲城市,而他們將會製造超過國內生產總值的85%,並增加城市人口比重至大約44%。城市已經佔全球能源使用量和與能源相關的溫室氣體排放量約70%,此數字將隨著城市的增長而提升。

對於亞洲地區的新興城市來說,未來陸續有機會出現跨越歷史模式的城市化,並會優先著重發展資源效率更高、氣候友善的城市。預計到2050年,還有極多甚至達75%預料將城市化的地區尚未建成!

但對於像香港這樣的成熟城市來說,改善現有的情況十分重要。為了實現港府的《 香港氣候行動藍圖2030+》(包括減少至少26%碳排放量)的目標,三大關鍵領域必須進行重大改變:建築、廢物處理及交通。

  • 建築物

目前本港超過60%碳排放量可歸咎於建築物發電。儘管香港已經對新建築物設立了環保標準,但其實建築物在節能上仍有很多空間可做,例如更新和改造陳舊和低效率的舊建築。

更新舊建築的困難不在技術,而在於融資。大多數業主不願提供資金來進行改善工程,因工程效果可能需要數年才呈現出來。但是,商業資金並不是垂手可得,大多數銀行視效能項目為散亂、繁瑣的分析工作,而且規模又太小,不足以引起關注。

  • 廢物處理

在人口稠密的香港,廢物問題日益嚴峻。這個城市每年產生約640萬公噸廢物,但僅能收集和處理一小部分可回收廢物。香港約有三分之二的垃圾被運往堆填區,預計今年的存放量將會爆滿。再者,堆填區垃圾通常帶有劇毒,會嚴重破壞周圍的生態系統。

我們急需新的資金來支持發展創新技術以解決廢物管理問題,例如堆肥及循環再用,特別是轉廢為能的技術。香港政府正在為轉廢為能設施制訂長遠計劃,但現在尚未清楚將如何籌集資金。

  • 運輸

運輸產生的碳排放量約佔本港總排放量的16%。鐵路和電車系統依靠電力運行,而車輛則主要由柴油、汽油及石油氣驅動。香港的空氣質素問題,尤其是路邊污染,仍然是一大挑戰。

多年來,香港政府為推廣電動車,提供了可說是全球數一數二最慷慨的稅務優惠,但就因使用公帑來補貼購買貴價車輛而備受批評。隨後港府取消了最大誘因,電動車購買率亦迅速下降。

填補資金缺口

要逐漸改變公眾及商業行為的最有效方法之一,就是令這些變化變得「可負擔」。我們只需要環顧全球其他城市的成功案例分析,便能找到解決特定城市氣候問題的資金解決方案。

以建築物作例子。在紐約,一家名為Sealed Inc.的能源效益公司推出了一項創新計劃,該計劃不僅可為房屋進行更新工程,還可以為業主提供簡便的繳款方式。Sealed可以為大規模的房屋效能提升提供資金,也可以成為屋主的水電費賬單代理。屋主每月向Sealed支付賬單,費用已包括房屋使用的能源和更新工程的投資。對於業主來說,這比嘗試在其他地方籌集資金簡單得多。

另一例子是運輸。在澳洲,政府支持的潔淨能源金融公司提供了5,000萬澳元融資,鼓勵車隊買家選擇更潔淨的車輛型號。這筆資金使Eclipx Group(澳洲當地最大的獨立車隊租賃公司之一)為投資達到低碳排放標準的私家車和輕型商用車客戶,提供較低利率優惠。該筆貸款隨後會被「打包」,並在資本市場出售。

總結來說,香港可以利用更多個案研究和先例來彌補自身的融資缺口,因為始終監管和教育做到的改變不多,金融還是過渡至綠色城市的重要組成條件。

Greener cities are essential to a low carbon and climate resilient future.

By 2030, more than 550 million people are expected to move to cities in Asia, where they will generate more than 85% of GDP and bring the urban share of the population to roughly 44 percent.  Cities are already responsible for around 70 percent of global energy use and energy related greenhouse gas emissions, which will increase as they grow.

For the new and emerging cities in the region, there should still be the possibility to leapfrog historical approaches to urbanisation and to prioritise the development of more resource efficient, climate friendly cities – a whopping 75% of the area expected to be urban by 2050 has not yet been built !

But for a mature city like Hong Kong, it is largely a matter of improving upon what we already have in the ground.  In order to meet the goals of the government’s Climate Action Plan 2030+ (including carbon emissions reductions of at least 26%), significant change has to occur in three key sectors: buildings, waste management and transportation.

  • Buildings

Over 60% of Hong Kong’s carbon emissions are attributable to generating electricity for buildings.  While new buildings are already subject to a green standards regime in Hong Kong, there is substantial potential for energy savings by upgrading and retrofitting aging and inefficient building stock.

The bottleneck in building upgrade is not technology, but financing.  Building owners tend to be reluctant to provide capital for improvements that will take several years to pay back.  However, very little commercial funding is available, as most banks view energy efficiency projects as disparate, onerous to analyse and too small sized to justify much attention.

  • Waste Management

In densely populated Hong Kong, waste is an increasingly challenging issue.  The territory generates around 6.4 million tonnes of waste each year but is able to collect and process only a minimal portion of recyclable waste.  Approximately two thirds of Hong Kong’s waste goes into landfills, whose existing capacity is expected to be full up this year.  Landfill waste is typically highly toxic and can severely damage surrounding ecosystems.

New capital is required to support innovative technologies to tackle waste management, such as composting and recycling, and in particular waste to energy.  The Hong Kong government is creating a long term plan for the development of waste to energy facilities, but it not clear how this roll out will be funded.

  • Transportation

Carbon emissions from transportation make up about 16% of the total emissions in Hong Kong.  While the rail and tram systems are run on electricity, road vehicles are mostly powered by diesel, petrol and LPG.  Air quality in Hong Kong, especially roadside pollution, remains a significant challenge.

For several years, the Hong Kong government provided some of the most generous tax incentives in the world for the adoption of electric vehicles, but faced strong criticism for using public money to subsidise the purchase of high end vehicles.  The incentive was subsequently withdrawn and electric vehicle purchase rates decreased rapidly.

Filling the Funding Gaps

One of the most effective ways of altering public and business behaviour is by making change affordable.  We only need to look around the world at successful case studies from other cities where funding solutions have been put in place to tackle specific urban climate issues.

To take just one example, buildings.  In New York, an energy efficiency company called Sealed Inc introduced an innovative programme that would carry out upgrades but also offer home owners an easy way to pay for them.  Sealed advances the capital for the bulk of a household’s efficiency upgrades and also takes over as the billing agent for the home owner’s utility bills.  The home owner pays Sealed a monthly bill that covers both the household’s energy use and the upgrade investment.  This is a much easier solution for the home owner than trying to get financing somewhere else.

Or another example, transportation.  In Australia, the government backed Clean Energy Finance Corporation provided financing of A$50 million to encourage vehicle fleet buyers to choose cleaner models.  This funding allowed Eclipx Group, one of Australia’s largest independent fleet leasing companies, to offer financing at lower interest rates to customers who invested in passenger and light commercial vehicles satisfying low emissions benchmarks.  The loans were later packaged and sold in the capital market.

There are many more case studies and precedents on which Hong Kong could build to fill its own funding gaps.  Regulation and education can only go so far.  Finance is an essential part of the transition to a greener city.

環境、社會及管治(ESG)投資比傳統投資增長更快 / ESG Investing Are Growing Faster Than Traditional Investing

意見交流園地 – Karen Ho / Idea Exchange – Karen Ho

Willis Towers Watson (韋萊韜悅) 上週一發表的一項針對500間大型資產管理公司的研究顯示,採用環境、社會及管治原則管理的資產增長速度比其他投資項目更快。

Willis Towers的報告指出,2018年分配給環境、社會及管治原則的資產增長了17.8%,而整個行業的資產增長率卻以3%的速度下降。ESG投資的需求增長率更快,於同年增長了23.3%,主要原因為資產管理公司傾向聘請專注ESG的管理人員。

另外,根據針對資產管理公司的調查,客戶對可持續投資的興趣上升了83%。Willis Tower旗下非牟利組織Thinking Ahead Institute的研究主管Bob Collie也曾在一份聲明中提到:「可持續發展現在已成為避無可避的議題。」

這與亞太地區的趨勢一致。根據泰國政府退休基金與彭博上周聯合舉辦的首屆可持續投資論壇的投票結果顯示,亞洲投資者對ESG投資具信心,計劃在未來12個月內加大力度於可持續投資。來自泰國及亞太地區的140多個投資者、資產擁有人和資產管理人中的89%受訪者認為,連結著ESG的投資組合表現比沒有連結著ESG的投資組合較理想,而51%受訪者表示將會加碼可持續投資。在接下來的12個月內,首兩項最受歡迎的ESG投資是與氣候變化(61%)以及多樣性和包容性(23%)相關的投資項目。

ESG投資正開始大行其道,你準備好了嗎?

Assets managed with environmental, social and governance principles are growing faster than the rest of the investing industry, according to a study of 500 large asset managers published last Monday by Willis Towers Watson.

Assets allocated to ESG principles rose by 17.8% in 2018, compared with the total industry where asset growth is declining at a rate of 3%, Willis Towers reported. Mandates for ESG investing grew even faster – rising 23.3% in 2018 as asset managers sought to specifically hire ESG-focused managers.

Client interest in sustainable investing was 83% up, according to a survey of the asset managers. “Sustainability has now become an unavoidable issue.” Bob Collie, head of research at Willis Towers’s nonprofit Thinking Ahead Institute said in a statement.

This is consistent with the trend in APAC region. According to the polling results of the inaugural    Sustainable Investing Forum co-hosed by Thailand’s government pension fund (GPF) and Bloomberg last week, Asian investors are bullish on ESG investing and plan to ramp up sustainable investments in the next 12 months. 89% of 140+ investors, asset owners and asset managers from Thailand and the APAC region believe that ESG-integrated portfolios are likely to perform as well or better than non ESG-integrated portfolios and 51% said they will increase their sustainable investments in the next 12 months. The top two ESG bets in the next 12 months are in investments related to climate change (61%) and diversity & inclusion (23%).

ESG investing is going Mainstream, are you ready?

ESG投資助環保 何樂而不為?

黃思靈 香港地球之友 綠色金融顧問

金管局的基建融資促進辦公室於5月宣布成立綠色金融中心後,本月中舉辦了首場名為「銀行及企業如何把握綠色金融機遇」的研討會,與會者關注到社會上對「環境、社會及管治」(ESG)的期望日增,企業營運模式及融資策略都必須與時並進。

港府助推 港交所證監會配合

回顧本港今年政府在ESG方面的推動力度,可說是突飛猛進。港交所、證監會陸續推出新措施和指引,以促進業界在ESG方面的披露。金管局在8月底也簽署了聯合國責任投資原則(UNPRI),相信往後應該會有更多對ESG的需求和倡議。觀乎世界各地,ESG也成了炙手可熱的關注議題。要推動ESG投資,很多人(包括筆者)都認為監管機構的支持很重要。如歐盟從2018年起對財務基準分析(financial benchmarks)開始了監管,財務基準分析必須滿足一些規定才能被歐洲投資者使用,重點放在編算方法和定價的透明度。歐盟近期正在進行諮詢,打算把ESG披露也加到規例裏面。財務基準分析如果未能展示出在編製過程中對ESG的考慮,恐怕也會被視為不合格了!

亞洲則有日本為代表。日本政府養老投資基金(GPIF)是全球最大養老基金,在ESG的投入度,還真是讓人吃驚。根據2018年年報,GPIF擁有資產總值超過1.5兆美元,投資過程中百分之一百都考慮了ESG因素,當中330億美元資產進行了ESG指數投資,近日更公開徵求相關投資策略,把目前較集中日本本地的相關投資更多樣化,務求擴展到全球股票和固定收益工具。遺憾是香港對比歐洲、日本甚至中國,投資者對ESG的投資仍是比較弱。他們普遍覺得目前的數據和分析始終未能證明ESG能帶來額外回報,甚至憂慮跑輸大市。

其實市場上這方面的資訊已不少,但質素比較參差,而且亞洲區這方面還在發展階段,歷史資料可能不太足夠,這些都有機會令投資者卻步。然而,人們對於ESG應該引入一個新概念,就是:Why NOT?(為何不可?)因為以前是問Why?總要研究「為甚麼」在投資時要考慮環境、社會及管治原則。但如ESG投資的回報和一般投資的回報差不多,卻可以提升風險管理成效,同時又能為貢獻社會發展及保護環境出一分力,那又何樂而不為?

Why NOT新概念 長遠回報佳

筆者比較了恒生指數和恒指ESG指數的表現和風險,兩檔指數成分股相同,但ESG評分較高的成分股公司在ESG指數裏的比重會增加。(下表)可見ESG指數回報不比原指數差,長遠甚至更優勝,而且年度化波幅明顯較低。一個小小的比重調整,便達到了如斯效果。我不是要賣廣告,但這確實是ESG投資產品表現的實證,有望為投資者對ESG投資小試牛刀增添信心。

推廣綠色金融,能夠改變世界嗎? / Can we all make a difference in promoting Green Finance?

香港地球之友董事 麥礎允 / Serena Mak, Board Member of Friends of the Earth (HK)

當然可以!

根據全球可持續發展投資聯盟(GSI Alliance)的數據,截至2018年,在可持續發展範疇進行投資的散戶比例已增加至25%,同時,在散戶投資市場上,與可持續/綠色投資相關的產品也逐漸出現。

當我們更有意識地選擇自己的衣著及決定使用甚麼類型的產品時,也可同時開始思考怎樣管理個人財務,才能對世界帶來正面及積極的影響。

從哪裏開始呢?如同大家現在喜歡搜尋可回收的生活產品(例如玻璃/鋁飲管、便攜式杯子),我們也需要積極尋找可持續的投資機會。剛開始時選擇可能較少,但隨著需求的增長,供應必會隨之而來。例如在英國,現時已出現了專門與可持續性投資有關的存款服務。每個人都可以參與搜尋從而提高此類型需求!

想了解更多有關現時的可持續投資格局,可瀏覽根據全球可持續發展投資聯盟(GSI Alliance)發表的報告:
http://www.gsi-alliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/GSIR_Review2018.3.28.pdf

We sure can!

According to GSI Alliance, the portion of retail investors that is investing in sustainability has increased to 25% by 2018, and we have started to see sustainability / green investing related products being available in the market for retail investors. 

As we make more conscious choices around what we wear and what we use, we can also think about where we can manage our personal finances in a way that will bring positive impact.

Where can we start? Just like how we proactively go and look for recyclable products (e.g. glass / aluminum straws, portable cups), we also need to proactively look for investment opportunities in sustainability. It may be few and far between at the beginning, but as demand grows, the supply will also follow. For example, in the UK, there are now deposits that specifically ties to sustainability investments. We can all participate in the search and drive up the demand!

For more information about the sustainability investment landscape, the GSI Alliance report is available here:
http://www.gsi-alliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/GSIR_Review2018.3.28.pdf

港推可持續基建標準 迎綠色一帶一路

【意見交流園地】團結香港基金副總幹事兼政策研究院主管黃元山、研究員江俊燊及羅文婷

近日聯合國氣候峰會上,瑞典少女通貝里(Greta Thunberg)直斥各國在氣候轉型上只有空談,缺乏實質減碳行動,成功引起各地關注。

要減低經濟活動對環境的損害,一派學說認為發展和環保從來勢不兩立,只有從根本上限制經濟成長,才能防止經濟發展無止境地蠶食環境和資源。

然而,今天最急需基礎建設、經濟發展的貧窮國家,在歷史溫室氣體的總排放佔比其實微乎其微;若然要他們犧牲發展來減緩全球暖化,似乎又有失氣候公義。

發展和環保 並非勢不兩立

而且,魚與熊掌是否必然不可兼得?其實也不一定。兩全其美的做法,應當是建立一套全面的可持續基建標準,支援發展中國家在可持續發展的前提下,發展基建和經濟;而一套全面的基建標準(Standard),應該要涵蓋基建發展的完整過程。

正如建房子必須先有設計圖才能按步施工,可持續基建亦先需要有一套全面的標準,清晰界定何謂「可持續基建」,整個流水作業方能順利運作。

全面環保標準 實踐氣候公義

可惜的是,目前的可持續基建標準在這方面仍有不少改善空間,或許正窒礙了可持續基建投資的發展。

基建項目的生命周期包括規劃、設計、融資、建造和營運等等多個階段,當中的可持續發展因素錯綜複雜,需要全面而一致的考慮。若然不同階段使用不同的標準,而這些標準之間的出發點或考慮亦各有不同,基建發展的過程就容易受阻,同時亦妨礙了投資者等不同持份者之間的協商和溝通,增加了整個過程的交易成本。因此,建立一套涵蓋基建發展完整過程的可持續標準,將掃除可持續基建發展的一大障礙。

然而,目前坊間的可持續基建標準雖然五花八門,但大多只涵蓋基建過程的某些特定階段,尚未能發展出一套全面而一致的可持續基建標準。

大體而言,工程界別的行業自願性準則如CEEQUAL®和Envision等一般涵蓋規劃和設計的階段,而金融機構如亞投行、國際金融公司等的內部評估標準則多着眼於融資階段。這些標準之間缺乏協調,或導致基建項目於不同階段的考慮因素互有衝突。在「綠色一帶一路」倡導中,中國曾提到要將生態環保標準融入基建發展的「各方面和全過程」,或許是解決這些問題的契機。

亞開行國際經驗 可堪借鑑

雖然目前國際上仍未有一套完整涵蓋整個基建過程的可持續標準,但部分機構在跨階段參與基礎建設的嘗試,仍足可借鑑。

舉例來說,亞洲開發銀行(Asian Development Bank)在融資階段之外,亦會參與設計階段的工作。換言之,亞洲開發銀行並不只是被動地在項目融資過程中進行篩選,更會主動參與項目的設計,例如探討如何在基建設計中融入氣候風險的考量。相較之下,亞投行(AIIB)等其他國際發展機構則只進行投資篩選而不涉足項目設計,或未能充分推動可持續基建的發展。

港綠色金融中心 應善用優勢

另外,瑞士巴塞爾全球基礎設施基金會開發的SuRe®標準可謂業內較完善的可持續基建技術標準,大致上覆蓋由項目「規劃」至「營運」的「全生命周期」評估,並融入對抵禦氣候變化、提供生態系統服務和自然資本等全面考量。SuRe®更將61項技術指標劃分為環境、社會和管治三大範疇,以更緊密地與環境、社會及管治(ESG)投資結合。不過SuRe®目前的跨階段銜接仍然有限,主要側重於技術層面的應用,不少技術指標和細節未必直接與融資決策相關。

近年香港積極推動綠色金融,承擔國際金融中心的氣候責任,為人所樂見。在可持續基建方面,香港亦應善用自身在金融業和服務業的優勢,推動全面可持續基建標準的發展。金管局早前宣布在基建融資促進辦公室下成立綠色金融中心,為業界提供技術支援,亦應着眼於香港在可持續基建發展的角色,尤其是在整合一套完整涵蓋整個基建過程的可持續標準。這既是響應中國「綠色一帶一路」倡議,亦是履行香港作為發達地區對於實踐氣候公義的義務。

文章原載《香港經濟日報》2019年10月8日

環境、社會與管治 (ESG) – 深入的效益分析 / Environment, Social Governance (ESG) – NOW I SEE YOU

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問 Mostafa Monira Firdouse / Mostafa Monira Firdouse, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

在當前的經濟形勢下,不少公司面臨著業績上甚至經營困難的壓力。員工們每天為履行日常職責爭扎求存,因此公司要推行新計劃時往往會遇到阻力。尤其人們普遍認為,要推動環境、社會與管治,必然是大型、複雜及昂貴的,但事實並非這樣。為了令公司更有效發揮,公司管理系統需要根據企業性質和規模而不斷改變,而這便是環境、社會與管治引致的直接業務收益。有效地節約和使用能源及材料有助於降低生產成本;減少廢物和排放以及進行回收,可大規模減少一直增長的廢物處理成本。實際上,企業也可將某些有機廢物轉化為燃料或能源,從而提高公司的可持續性及節省業務成本。環境、社會與管治亦可以幫助公司建立流程,根據行業標準計算其支出基準,並確定潛在的生產和營運成本。

同樣地,一些公司經營上的切實效益可透過改善「社會」方面得以實現。清晰、透明的人力資源政策和程序可改善員工和管理人員之間的溝通,這有助於預測並避免出現勞工問題。另外,有效的職業安全與健康管理程序,能幫助公司識別工作場所和員工執勤過程中的風險,並減少甚至消除潛在的負面影響。這不僅可減少工作導致的傷亡,還為經營上帶來好處,例如降低缺勤率及員工流失率,以及減少員工補償金。

簡單來說,環境、社會及管治的效益,可延伸至不同的管理範疇,包括公司業務對環境的影響、員工和其他外部持分者。

現在,我們應把重點帶到,環境、社會及管治可在多大程度上幫助公司進行可持續發展。我認為,現時企業正面臨著許多重大的環境和社會挑戰,目前面臨的迫切挑戰包括:(1)能源和原材料成本不斷上升(2)環境和員工監管機構的力量及影響力不斷增強(3)消費者對環境與社會問題的意識和關注迅速發展。以上問題促使投資者不得不在投資前先考慮公司的環境、社會及管治表現。因此,我的結論是,良好的環境、社會及管治表現能透過風險管理,確保長遠投資收益。

隨著亞太地區監管機構引入新的環境、社會及管治報告披露指南和管理要求,亞太市場對環境、社會及管治數據的關注正迅速增加。這種趨勢尤其受到股票交易市場的推動,主要原因是環境、社會及管治報告被視為優質海外投資的評價工具,另一原因就是投資者和政府愈發關注公司如何建立長遠價值。在此,我想特別提出幾點,希望大家思考一下:

  • 香港交易所應訂立一套驗證要點,令本港環境、社會及管治政策盡快與國際標準看齊嗎?
  • 除了繳稅以外,企業還採取了哪些措施/合作計劃來應對氣候變化、從而推行保育及保護生物多樣性?
  • 撰寫環境、社會及管治報告時應同時考慮合約員工,以提供社會安全網。
  • 社區投資應根據法規/政策進行規劃。
  • 環境、社會及管治報告的監察應與可持續發展目標(SDG)保持一致,對準全球性普世目標。

In the current economic climate, companies are under pressure to perform or even just survive. New initiatives are often met with resistance as people struggle to keep up with their day-to-day responsibilities. Some people think that an environmental and social governance must be big, complicated and expensive part to play. But that is not really true. To be effective, a management system needs to be scaled to the nature and size of the company. That is what ESG is leading through direct business benefits. Conserving and using energy and materials more efficiently helps to reduce production costs. Reducing waste and discharges, and recycling can minimize costs of waste disposal, which have been steadily increasing over time. In fact, a company can convert certain organic waste into fuel or energy to maximize sustainability and costs savings for the business. ESG can help a company to build processes to benchmark its expenditures against industry standards and identify potential production and operational cost savings.

Parallelly, same tangible benefits can be realised on the social side. Clear, transparent human resource policies and procedures improve communication between workers and managers. This helps to anticipate and avoid labour problems. Effective occupational health and safety management procedures will enable a company to identify workplace and process hazards, so you can eliminate them or reduce their potential negative impacts. This can not only reduce injuries and fatalities but can also lead to bottom-line business benefits such as reduced absenteeism and worker turnover, and lower insurance premiums for workers’ compensation.

ESG simply extends that approach to the management of the impact of company’s business on the environment, workers, and other external stakeholders.

So, the question is, to what extent ESG can help a company’s sustainability. In my view, companies are confronted with a number of significant environmental and social challenges. The immediate challenges are: (1) Increasing energy and raw materials costs (2) Growing power and influence of environmental and labour regulatory agencies (3) Rapidly evolving consumer awareness and concerns about environmental and social issues. These are leading investors to look at company ESG performance before investment. The idea is, good ESG performance will ensure long term investment benefits through risk management.

ESG data disclosure in Asia Pacific market is rising rapidly as the region’s regulators introduce new ESG reporting guidelines and stewardship requirements. This trend is especially driven by stock exchanges since ESG reporting seen as a proxy for good foreign investment and investors and governments are increasingly concerned with how companies are building long-term value. So, I would like to flag that:

  • HKEX should have point of validation, ESG POLICY is compliant with international standard?
  • Apart from the tax paying, what are the initiatives/collaborations that company is taking to tackle climate change in context of conservation and protection of bio-diversity?
  • Contracted workers should be counted in ESG reports to ensure social SafetyNet.
  • Community Investment should be planned under regulation/policy.
  • IMAPCT Monitoring should be included and be aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to aggregate at global goals.

綠色金融 多贏共生 / Green Finance to Create Shared Value

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問

今年有智庫團體進行「全球宜居城市指數」統計,除了生活水平、政治環境、基建設施等指標,生態規劃亦被納入考量當中,各個城市的評分有升有跌,而香港的宜居指數則較去年下跌。於物價飛升的現今社會,諷刺的是宜居指數每況愈下,特別是人類為求解決社會問題,不惜犧牲生態環境作為代價,以香港政府早前有意將郊野公園土地改劃為例,本來人與自然和諧共存的環境遭受威脅。隨著超強颱風「天鴿」和「山竹」先後襲港,對大家有何啟示?大舉伐木或許能逞一時之快,卻後患無窮,若維持現有方式規劃城市,氣候變化的問題相信沒有最差,只有更差。

有危有機 綠色金融

放眼國際,全球各國又如何應對氣候變化?著手控制全球暖化及緩解其他環境問題需要龐大資金配合,而問題不單是落在政策者身上,商界企業亦責無旁貸,造就雙贏正是關鍵所在,發行綠色債券可以是方法之一,亦成為投資業界的大趨勢。綠色金融冀以金融市場的融資所得,投放於改善氣候及造福環境,雖然綠色業務或許面對回本期較長的問題,但有危自有機,願意投放資源發展環保項目的公司近年得到機構投資者的青睞,這些企業在固有業務發展取得成功以外,更懂得利用資金投資具遠見的項目,因此機構投資者亦會建議客戶多投資這類型的企業。

全球多個金融中心積極推動綠色金融,香港政府亦於2017年宣布推出綠色債券計劃,為政府的綠色項目提供資金,藉此改善環境和推動低碳經濟的發展。惟發行綠色債券於香港仍未普及,初期有數家地產發展商和公用事業機構打響頭炮後,便後勁不繼,與其他歐美國家相比,發行綠債的企業數目仍有相當大的距離。原因很多,儘管企業有意履行企業社會責任,但畢竟商家始終是商家,還需考慮企業盈利,香港寸金尺土,很難覓地發展環保項目,更甚是這些項目一般具備更大的投資風險,卻步亦是人之常情。

升級選擇 吸引資金

2019年,綠色金融業界有新的產品推出 –「可持續發展表現掛鈎貸款」 (Sustainability Linked Loan,簡稱SLL),企業可根據其可持續發展表現調整利率,以利率作為誘因推動企業達成更多可持續發展的目標。本港已有企業率先響應,希望吸引更多資金。

在企業層面,由於利率會因應公司的環境、社會及管治(簡稱ESG)表現而轉變,而企業可根據可持續發展目標來調整條款,包括改變借貸利率,而企業為可減省更多利息支出,會更著重可持續發展的表現;就銀行而言,提供一個更優惠的貸款利率能鼓勵企業推進可持續發展方面發展,實踐企業責任並回饋社會;而投資者則可參考企業過往ESG表現而作投資決定,增強投資者信心,推出SLL實為「三贏」。

不同金融產品在市場上要走得遠或飛得高,還需要監管機構的配合,以及政府機關的推廣,從質量、誠信方面贏得投資者的信心。未來香港政府的施政方針,還望在落實推廣綠色金融上多點著墨,打破傳統單以資助的硬方式推行,多花點軟心思,抓緊國際綠色金融市場迎來的新機遇。

Where the money goes?

Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

As green bonds have become a popular source of financing with rising demand from fixed income investors, we can see burgeoning issuance of the securities. Over the month, Industrial Commercial Bank of China just announced to issue the first ever green bond dedicated to the development of the Greater Bay Area, with a total amount equivalent to over USD 3 billion. The proceeds will be used to finance assets specifically related to low-carbon and low emission transportation as well as renewable energy in the Greater Bay Area. As the green bond market evolves, we can observe some interesting patterns in how the capital is deployed.

Since the first green bond made its debut in Hong Kong in 2015, a total of USD 11 billion of green bonds has been raised for various usages. To be classified as a green bond, a project has to fulfill certain criteria throughout the life cycle of the capital raised. And first and foremost, the use of proceeds should be closely related to environment and sustainable development. According to International Capital Market Association, the eligible categories of applications range from pollution control, sustainable management of natural resources, renewable energy, water and energy efficiency, clean and resilient transport, waste water management to green building. We can expect the more active our green bond market is, the more capital will flow into diverse environmentally friendly projects.

Interestingly, having said that, currently the Hong Kong’s green bond market is inclined to certain areas due to its market structure. Based on HKMA’s figures, low carbon building (37%), water (21%) and energy (14%) are the areas that most proceeds are allocated to. Unsurprisingly, tilting towards ‘building’ is due to the fact that many green bond issuers are primarily property developers, such as Hang Lung Properties and New World Development. Meanwhile, as a gateway Chinese issuers and international investors, Hong Kong’s green bond supply has also been underpinned by Chinese companies as the market is becoming more mature with the support from the authorities. As a result, several companies engaging in the energy, transport and water businesses have also left their footprints in the Hong Kong’s green bond market, and we expect the trend to continue onwards.

The recent issuance by ICBC sheds lights on the future development of the green bond market in Hong Kong. As an international financial center and the pivot of the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong should continue to gain tractions from Chinese corporates. According to the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), we expect to see more active green finance activities in Hong Kong in order to achieve national environmental goals mentioned in the 13th Five-Year Plan, which is expected to require an annual investment of at least RMB 2 trillion, of which environmental protection and clean energy will be the key focuses. We look forward to seeing how these opportunities can provide impetus for the city’s sustainable development!

Source 1: “Green Bond Market Briefing” of Climate Bond Initiative, February 2019
https://gia.info.gov.hk/general/201902/25/P2019022500567_304636_1_1551093851497.pdf
Source 2: “The Green Bond Trend Global, Mainland China and Hong Kong” of HKEX, December 2018
https://www.hkex.com.hk/-/media/HKEX-Market/News/Research-Reports/HKEx-Research-Papers/2018/CCEO_GreenBonds_201812_e.pdf?la=en
Source 3: “Green Bond Market Briefing” of Climate Bond Initiative, February 2019
https://gia.info.gov.hk/general/201902/25/P2019022500567_304636_1_1551093851497.pdf
Source 4: “The Green Bond Trend Global, Mainland China and Hong Kong” of HKEX, December 2018
https://www.hkex.com.hk/-/media/HKEX-Market/News/Research-Reports/HKEx-Research-Papers/2018/CCEO_GreenBonds_201812_e.pdf?la=en

乾淨煤不乾淨 / Clean coal is not clean

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問  / Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK) 

雖然越來越多的銀行和金融機構正試圖削減與煤炭行業的關係,但該行業的參與者正試圖獲得清潔煤炭技術的綠色融資。潔淨煤技術是一系列技術,旨在減少燃煤燃燒產生的碳排放和其他污染物。然而,考慮到煤炭開采的處理,煤炭運輸的物流和燃煤發電的“清潔”過程,我們認為潔淨煤技術更像是一個神話而非解決方案。 首先,煤炭必須從地下開採。考慮到對環境的破壞,這很難成為一項綠色工作,更不用說將煤運到發電廠的問題了。確實存在的主要問題是,目前可用的大多數商業化清潔煤技術在降低碳和其他污染物方面效率不高。事實證明,一些現有的潔淨煤項目排放的污染物不僅少於污染物。簡而言之,潔淨煤技術通常不被視為發電的可行綠色解決方案。不鼓勵使用綠色資本來為克萊恩煤炭技術提供資金。

雖然越來越多的銀行和金融機構正試圖削減與煤炭行業的關係,但業界正試圖為清潔煤炭技術進行綠色融資。潔淨煤技術是一系列旨在減少燃煤燃燒產生的碳排放和其他污染物的技術。然而,考慮到煤炭開採的處理,煤炭運輸的物流和燃煤發電的「清潔」過程,我們認為潔淨煤技術更像是一個神話而非解決方案。

首先,煤炭必須從地下開採。考慮到煤炭對環境的破壞,這很難成為一項綠色工作,更不用說將煤運到發電廠的問題了。目前主要問題是可用的大多數商業化清潔煤技術在減碳和其他污染物方面效率不高。事實證明,一些現有的潔淨煤項目排放污染物是增加而非減少。簡而言之,潔淨煤技術通常不被視為發電的可行綠色解決方案。使用綠色資本來為潔淨煤炭技術提供資金是不應被鼓勵的。

關於清潔煤的一些資訊 (來源: endcoal.org)(只有英文版)

While more banks and financial institutions are trying to cut their ties to the coal industry, the industry’s participants are trying to get green financing for clean coal technologies. Clean coal technologies are a collection of technologies targeting to cut down the carbon emissions and other pollutants generated in burning coal for power generation. However, considering the processing of coal mining, the logistics in transporting coal and the “cleaning” process in coal-fired power generation, we see clean coal technology is more like a myth than a solution.

First of all, coal has to be mined out of the ground. This can hardly be a green exercise considering the damage to the environment, not to mention the issues in transporting coal to power plants. The major problem indeed is that most of the commercialized clean-coal technologies available at present are not efficient in reducing carbon and other pollutants. Some existing clean coal projects are in fact proved to be emitting more but not less pollutants. In a nutshell, clean coal technologies are generally not perceived as a viable green solution for power generation. Using green capital to finance clean coal technologies is not encouraged.

Some facts about clean coal from endcoal.org