Restoring Blue Skies:
Review of the Policy Agenda on Air Pollution
Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

April 2008

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Synopsis of ideas and recommendations

One: Global citizenship

8.     Globally, there is a strong drive for sustainable development and environmental management, requiring governments and businesses to fulfill environmental standards.  In many advanced countries, environmental policy has become part of the economic policy.  Japan re-defined pollution as an economic problem ten years ago.  The Canadian government mandated all the policy ministries to develop a respective sustainable development agenda.  In the Netherlands independent professional scientists have been appointed to analyze emissions.  Even in Mainland China , where economic development is still a priority, environment regulations are increasingly taken seriously, despite the still disparate application across the nation.  If Hong Kong were to follow the global best practice, we need to integrate environment into the HKSAR government¡¦s economic policy, with clearly-defined regulations that are environmentally relevant.

9.     It is encouraging that in the 2007 Policy Address, environment is no longer treated as a local problem, but stated explicitly as a national and global issue, as exemplified by the reference to climate change.  The government has committed to implementing the Sydney Declaration and, significantly, it accepted the invitation to join the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group on 8 November 2007.  Through the Chief Executive¡¦s Policy Address the government has undertaken to roll out the mandatory energy labeling scheme, conduct carbon audit for the new government offices at Tamar, promote bio-diesel, and commission a consultancy to study Hong Kong ¡¦s adaptation to climate change.  However, this is not enough, as both the Hong Kong community and literally the world community now have high expectations of Hong Kong , now that the HKSAR has signed the APEC Sydney Declaration and joined the ¡§C40 Cities¡¨ Climate Leadership Group.  In our view, Hong Kong should formulate a concrete action plan for the city to, among other things,

  • set out specific local green house gas emission targets which should be more ambitious than that applicable to a developing economy, and allowing use of international emissions credits towards achieving the targets; (1)
  • explore ways to develop Hong Kong into a financial platform for trading emissions, including carbon emissions; (2)
  • develop and implement carbon offset schemes; (3)
  • pursue low-carbon developments, through demonstration projects and relevant carbon audit schemes, starting with the public sector;  (4)
  • be more proactive in international forums on climate change, just as Hong Kong has been active in multilateral forums on trade. (5)

10.     Furthermore, Hong Kong should take a more proactive role in taking part in CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) projects under the Kyoto Protocol.  Currently, Hong Kong based companies are treated as foreign entities in the Mainland, thus preventing them from taking up majority interests in CDM Projects.  But a model for closer cooperation with the Mainland already exists, in the form of CEPA ¡V the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between the Mainland and Hong Kong , initiated and championed by the Chamber.  CEPA be used as the basis for qualifying Hong Kong companies as PRC entities for the purpose of meeting the requirement of majority Chinese ownership ¡V as set out in the ¡§Measures for the Administration of the Operation of Clean Development Mechanism Projects¡¨ ¡V in renewable energy and other projects that are eligible for CDM.  This will enable Hong Kong-based companies to more actively pursue CDM related business. (6)

11.     Although the pollutants that cause climate change do not necessarily contribute to local air pollution, emission control and energy efficiency have both local and global environmental benefits. Accordingly, we would continue to champion a tripartite partnership approach (government, business and the community) in addressing climate change through promoting green building, green lifestyle and green business practices. (7)

Two: Cooperation with the Mainland
Three: Energy policy
Four: Demand-side Management
Five: Infrastructure and urban planning
Six: Sustainable transport
Seven: Green procurement
Eight: Pollution tracking
Nine: Transparency and reporting
Ten: Building human capital for sustainability

The Way Forward

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