The Council for Sustainable Development launched a public engagement exercise in June to raise awareness and solicit views from Hong Kong people on the Government’s Long-term Decarbonisation Strategy.
At a roundtable luncheon on 2 September, two speakers from the Centre for Civil Society and Governance at the University of Hong Kong discussed the consultation process and explained how members can contribute their expertise and opinions.
Dr Winnie Law, Deputy Director and Principal Lecturer, introduced the process. She explained that the Council’s report will be submitted to the Secretary for the Environment, and that its conclusions will then be passed on the Central government, and ultimately to the United Nations as part of China’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Darwin Leung, Assistant Project Manager of Policy for Sustainability Lab, explained that the public engagement exercise hoped to tap into expertise of the business community on how Hong Kong can reduce its carbon emissions.
The Hong Kong Government has already set targets for 2030, but beyond that, we need to work toward the Paris Agreement target of slowing global warming to less than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels by 2050 – and ideally even lower. To do this will be a major challenge for Hong Kong.
“There is still a long way for us to go to achieve the 2ºC target,” he said. “There is no magic bullet for us to achieve any of these targets.”
To achieve even a modest reduction in global warming will mean major lifestyle changes for all citizens – who will need information, support and guidance.
“The transition to a low carbon society affects every one of us. There is much more we can do to make a paradigm shift in our lifestyles,” Leung said. “But what can Government and the private sector do to motivate people to make the changes needed?”
Leung discussed some of the ways in which Hong Kong can cut emissions. One global trend that Hong Kong has not yet signed up to is the phasing in of a total ban on fossil-fuel vehicles.
We can also expect to see more regional energy cooperation. Hong Kong already imports nuclear energy from the Mainland, but there may be opportunities further afield. Leung informed participants of an ambitious plan for Australia build a solar plant in the Northern Territories to export energy to Singapore.
Another area that has not received so much attention has been green finance.
“Many other developed economies are well ahead of Hong Kong when it comes to green finance, green tax and carbon trading,” Leung said. For example, earlier this year, New York City introduced legislation requiring large buildings to cut their carbon emissions, with fines for those that do not meet the targets.
So there are many areas where Hong Kong can try to cut its emissions. We need to stitch all of these options together if Hong Kong is to be successful, Leung concluded.