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
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

57.     With continuous improvements in the air quality monitoring network, the government should seek to undertake full data disclosure to the public for the whole region.  Through the cross-border liaison mechanism, the HKSAR government should encourage and facilitate the Guangdong counterpart to adopt mandatory public reporting of emissions for large emitters in the region, as well as publication of an annual emissions inventory, broken down by individual pollutants and greenhouse gases as well as by type of emission sources, as is now done in Hong Kong .   (37)

58.     More generally, the HKSAR government has plenty of good scientific resources and if they can be re-orientated towards providing quantitative information at more regular intervals, this may help catalyse a change to transparency and enable both government and other stakeholders to engage in scientific dialogue productively, and hence engender policy development more effectively.  Given that health impact information is being continually studied and updated, sound and scientifically-based policy development is crucial lest the gap between mitigation needs and what may be affordable in socio-economic terms should be larger than policy makers are prepared to adopt.  (38)

59.   In the case of the private sector, many Hong Kong companies have already incorporated social responsibility objectives and programmes into their business process, but have not yet taken on the task of reporting these activities.  There should be a vigorous campaign to encourage environmental or sustainability reporting, building on the best practices promoted by bodies such as the Global Reporting Initiative.

60.     The Government can help kick-start this campaign by requiring all government departments and publicly-owned corporations to publish sustainability reports.  With the support of the Hong Kong Exchanges and the Securities and Futures Commission, a campaign should be launched to encourage all listed companies to undertake environmental or sustainability reporting, especially on the measures they and their subsidiary companies are taking to reduce air pollution.  The reports can become a driver of corporate social responsibility by enhancing communication and trust between the respective organizations and their stakeholders.  If these companies can be measured and rated on this front voluntarily, with more companies adopting such reporting, it could eventually become part of the reporting requirement of the Hong Kong Exchange for listed companies.  Already, some international funds are giving credit to investee companies that are socially responsible. (39)

61.   The situation is more complicated in the cross-border context, manufacturers in the PRD being more reluctant to disclose information on emissions lest they should be targeted for enforcement and possible financial penalties.  The lack of transparency results in insufficient data to determine emission reduction targets, develop the environmental services industry, or formulate policies on emission trading.

62.     To help enhance transparency of environmental performance across the border, perhaps a voluntary self-regulatory approach is worth exploring.  On the part of Hong Kong enterprises, a ˇ§code of environment practices in the Mainlandˇ¨ could be established, perhaps initially by the Hong Kong Exchanges and Securities and Futures Commission for listed companies, providing guidelines on disclosure of emissions and regulatory compliance.  Apart from encouraging Hong Kong companies to be responsible global citizens, this may also have an effect on their Guangdong counterparts.  In time, such a code can be promoted more widely to the business sector as a whole, through institutions like the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council. The ultimate aim is to help promote environmental management as a core business competence.  (40)

Ten: Building human capital for sustainability

The Way Forward

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