As part of the 2020 Chief Executive Policy Address, Carrie Lam has set a target for Hong Kong to become carbon neutral by 2050. In the address, Lam said that the government will aim to achieve carbon neutrality through a variety of means, including exploring new environmentally-friendly technology, enhancing the energy efficiency of buildings, promoting zero-carbon vehicles and building large-scale waste-to-energy facilities.
Lam adds that to lower the cost of achieving carbon neutrality, “we need to reduce the demand for energy by setting more stringent energy efficient standards.” Green finance would be pursued and developed “to build a low-carbon economy which is more resilient to climate change.”
Lam says, “We also need to enlist the full support of various sectors in society to adopt low-carbon lifestyles and economic transformation,” as she appealed for all sectors to work together in achieving the ambitious goal.
What is Happening?
- In the coming year, the ENB plans to launch a long-term strategy blueprint on waste management and Hong Kong’s first roadmap on the popularisation of electric vehicles, etc. with the target of ending the sale of conventional fuel-propelled private cars, as well as updating “A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong”
- Lam says that over the past decade, the government has allocated over HKD $47 billion to tackle rising emissions. It has targeted a 65-70% reduction in carbon intensity compared to 2005 levels and says that Hong Kong reached peak emissions in 2014, with per capita carbon emissions at 5.4 tonnes in 2018, 38% lower than that in 2005
- The government adds that it will invest in a series of environmental projects in the next few years which will create an estimated 4 000 job opportunities in sectors such as scientific research, architecture and engineering, recycling and transport
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The Hong Kong government will update the “Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan” in the middle of next year to set out more proactive strategies and measures to reduce carbon emissions and become carbon neutral.
Hong Kong-based charity Friends of the Earth welcomes the “Report on Public Engagement on Long-term Decarbonisation Strategy” published by the Council for Sustainable Development, but says that it “fails to see how the [carbon neutrality] goal is achievable given the lack of concrete, aggressive actions.” It offers six recommendations, namely:
- Withdrawing the controversial Lantau Tomorrow vision land reclamation project, which the charity says will irreversibly damage marine ecosystems and alter the hydrology and topography of the land
- Set “clear articulated milestones and interim targets to assess progress towards the 2050 decarbonisation goal”
- Attach “green strings” to COVID-19 stimulus packages on the basis of realising UN Sustainable Development Goals, for example by incentivising the building industry to adopt less pollution materials, caterers to use reusable tableware and retailers to reduce packaging materials
- Enforce a “polluter pays” principle on carbon emission by fixing a price on greenhouse gases and directly charging companies that contribute to climate change.
- Focus on investing in low-carbon technologies
- Include green bonds and ESG equity funds in MPF investment choices to allow investors to contribute to environmental protection while seeking investment returns