The Government announced the “2020-21 Budget” today. Climate change is happening and getting worse. Hundreds of governments around the world have declared emergency state of climate emergency in 2019. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent; heat-related illnesses and vector-borne diseases are becoming more common. Hong Kong Government must adopt emergency response to climate change. Friends of the Earth (HK) [FoE (HK)] welcomes the HK$200 million Green Tech Fund to support R&D and the application of decarbonisation and green technologies. 

At the same time, FoE (HK) is disappointed that the Government has not devoted a sufficient budget for promoting green finance. Hong Kong is one of the world’s major financial centres, but lags behind in terms of its green finance commitment. Hong Kong is placed 35th according to the latest Global Green Finance Index. Simon Mak, CEO of Friends of the Earth HK said, “To build up the green finance market in Hong Kong, the Government needs to issue a series of green bonds with different durations of different terms. Our recommendation is for the government to issue these bonds at frequent intervals to build up the capital market.”

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We propose the following recommendations to build a healthy and sustainable environment for Hong Kong.

Expedite Green Finance Development

The Government should formally endorse and promote recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and require major asset owners to fully adopt the “Principles of Responsible Ownership” by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). Main Board-listed companies and banks should publish ESG reports aligning with TCFD recommendations and the Government needs to develop an open-access management information system to store, manage, and analyse the ESG data submitted.

The Financial Services & Treasury Bureau (FSTB) should support and fund green finance training and education. New specialised programmes on green finance need to be created and elements of green finance and sustainability should be incorporated into existing courses in Universities and Business Schools. 

There is a need for better policy coordination. The government should appoint a Green Finance Commissioner under the Financial Secretary Office (FSO) to provide leadership and oversight to speed up the development of green finance industry in Hong Kong. 

In addition to providing incentives to develop new green financial products such as green mortgages and ESG-linked exchange traded funds, the Government should work with the Insurance Authority (IA) and the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) —to require insurers and pension funds to incorporate ESG factors into investment decisions and trustee approval.

Encourage Green Transportation

Both the HK$80 million earmarked fund to electrify green public light buses and the HK$2 billion pilot subsidy scheme for the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in private residential estates are welcomed. The Government should also continue to provide financial incentives for commercial EVs, with decarbonising public transportation as the ultimate goal. The Government also should explore the potential of developing a hydrogen economy to replace fossil fuels as a transport fuel.

Improve Energy Efficiency

Energy saving plays the key role on reducing carbon emissions. The lion’s share of electricity generated in Hong Kong goes to meeting building energy demand. More than 3,600 buildings in the city are over 50-years old with varying energy performance. We urge the Government to expedite the transformation of the city’s electricity grid into a smart grid, providing real-time feedback to grid operators and end-users to enhance energy efficiency. The Government also should provide incentives to help building owners to adopt energy-efficient designs and technologies and retrofit existing buildings.

Adapt Climate Change

Hong Kong is particularly susceptible to flooding and storm surges as a coastal city. The Government must allocate more resources to ramp up coastal defence infrastructures and adopt sponge city designs. Healthcare capacity needs to be expanded as well to tackle heat-related illnesses and vector-borne diseases as they become more common. At the same time, climate change will make the world less water secure. The Government must develop alternative sources of freshwater other than Dongjiang water, such as water reclamation and desalination.

Support Waste Management 

The volume of municipal solid waste going into the landfills continue to be on the rise. The Government must allocate resources including financial incentives to upgrade the local recycling industry. As the same time, they should establish materials recovery facilities throughout the 18 districts in Hong Kong to support clean recycling. 

港府今天發表2020-21年度財政預算案。氣候變化正在發生,並且愈趨嚴重,世界各地數百政府經已在2019年宣布進入氣候緊急狀態。極端天氣狀況愈發頻繁,熱病及傳病媒介疾病亦變得越來越普遍,香港政府必須對氣候變化採取緊急應對措施。香港地球之友歡迎政府撥款二億元成立低碳綠色科研基金的決定,以支持減碳技術和綠色科技的研發及應用。

但同時,本會對港府並沒有為促進綠色金融投入足夠的預算感到失望。香港是全球主要的金融中心之一,但本港在發展綠色金融方面卻十分落後。根據最新《全球綠色金融指數》,香港排名僅第35位。香港地球之友行政總裁麥沛霖先生表示:「要在香港建立綠色金融市場,政府需要發行一系列不同期限和條款的綠色債券。本會提倡政府定期發行這些債券以建立資本市場。」

正所謂預防勝於治療,本會將提出以下建議,希望政府能為香港建立一個更健康、可持續的環境。

加快綠色金融發展

政府應正式認可及推廣氣候相關財務披露工作小組(TCFD)的報告。主板上市公司、主要資產擁有者及銀行應發布符合TCFD建議的ESG報告,並完全採用證監會(SFC)的《負責任的擁有權原則》。港府需要開發一個開放的資訊管理系統,以便儲存、管理和分析所提交的ESG數據。

財經事務及庫務局應支持及資助綠色金融培訓及教育。有關綠色金融的專才計劃亦需推行,並將綠色金融及可持續性要素納入大學和商學院現有課程。

政策協調必須加強。港府應在財政司司長旗下委任一位綠色金融專員,以便領導、監督及加快本港綠色金融業發展。

除了開發新的綠色金融產品(例如綠色抵押貸款和與ESG相關的交易所買賣基金)外,政府還應與保險業監管局及積金局合作,要求保險公司和社保基金將ESG因素納入投資決策和受託人核准。

提倡綠色運輸

本會歡迎港府撥款8,000萬港元發展電動公共小巴,以及資助合資格的現有私人住宅樓宇停車場安裝基礎設施的20億港元先導計劃。但政府應繼續為商用電動車提供經濟誘因,並以減少公共運輸的碳排放為最終目標。港府更應積極探索發展氫經濟,以取代化石燃料作為運輸燃料。

提升能源效率

節能在減少碳排放中起關鍵作用。本港產生的大部分電力均用作滿足建築能源需求,而全港擁有超過50多年歷史的建築高達3,600座,它們的能源性能參差。本會敦促政府加快將全港電網改造為智能電網,為電網運營商和終端用戶提供實時數據反饋,以提升能源效率。政府還應提供優惠措施,資助業主採用節能設計與技術去改造及翻新現有建築物。

適應氣候變化

作為沿海城市,香港特別容易遭受洪水和風暴潮影響。政府必須分配更多資源,加強沿海防禦基建設施並採用海綿城市設計。隨著熱病和傳病媒介疾病愈趨流行,本港的醫療措施也需要有所加強。同時,氣候變化將降低全球的水源安全性,政府必須開發除東江水以外的其他淡水來源,例如再造水及海水淡化 。

支持廢物管理

本港棄置於堆填區的都市固體廢物數量繼續上升。政府必須增加資源,例如提供經濟誘因,完善本港的回收產業。同時,政府應在全港18區建立資源回收設施,以支持潔淨回收。

Photo source / 圖片來源: HK01