【意見交流園地 Idea Exchange】
Hong Kong, an international financial centre and bustling metropolis, is grappling with the monumental task of battling climate change. Recognising the urgency, the government launched the Climate Action Plan 2050 back in 2021.
The plan featured four primary strategies for carbon reduction: achieving net-zero electricity generation, promoting energy-efficient and green buildings, advancing green transport, and pushing for territory-wide waste reduction.
Despite the city’s commendable strides in recent years, more concrete steps are necessary. Hong Kong must consider introducing a carbon tax. Putting a price on carbon emissions effectively factors in the environmental cost of pollution. Such a scheme could spur businesses and individuals to diminish their carbon footprints and channel their resources towards cleaner technologies.
Given its robust economy and significant carbon emissions per capita, Hong Kong is in a unique position to set a precedent. It is worth noting, however, that a carbon tax is no long-term solution to climate change.
To truly turn the tide against climate change and secure a brighter future for subsequent generations, the city must embrace research and innovation. Hong Kong must prioritise investment in the development of clean energy technologies, sustainable urban planning and climate adaptation strategies.
Through the fostering of partnerships among academic institutions, government bodies and the private sector, Hong Kong could emerge as a nexus for pioneering research and innovation in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Moreover, Hong Kong must bolster its adaptive measures to weather the impacts of climate change. The city faces considerable threats from rising sea levels, severe weather patterns and heatwaves, which could wreak havoc on both infrastructure and people. By integrating climate resilience into urban planning, Hong Kong could devise innovative solutions like green infrastructure, strategies for mitigating the urban heat island effect, and designs for sustainable built environments.
The Netherlands’ Room for the River programme, a design plan that successfully addressed flood prevention, serves as inspiration. Investment in early warning systems and disaster preparedness could also help alleviate the potential human and economic toll of climate-related catastrophes.
In light of the urgency and scale of the global environmental crisis, Hong Kong’s climate policies require significant enhancement. By enforcing a carbon tax, fostering research and innovation, and strengthening adaptive measures, Hong Kong has the potential to emerge as the vanguard in the fight against climate change. The moment for decisive action is upon us, and Hong Kong has the opportunity to sculpt a greener and more prosperous future for the generations to follow.
(*Reposted from South China Morning Post – LETTERS published on 21 Dec 2023)