In these troubled times, it is challenging to devise forward-looking, visionary policies. We appreciate the work of ENB, EPD and other Government Departments on reducing Hong Kong’s GHG emissions, to pave a path towards a low carbon economy, enhance the city’s livability, and preserve our rich and diverse natural environment.
Yet, it appears that the Government has been ‘swimming upstream’ with initiatives pointing in the right direction being offset to a considerable degree by factors running the opposite way. This is particularly true regarding the energy consumed per square meter in buildings and the emissions from mobility in Hong Kong. Opposition in the Legislative Council and adverse public opinions have contributed to the lack of progress on these and other issues.
One potential response to this difficult position is to focus on ‘low-profile’ policy initiatives. However, this exposes the Government to criticism that:
Its policies are a continuation of its past actions which have been proven inadequate and insufficient.
It is increasing the transition risks which Hong Kong faces. Specifically, decarbonisation action taken now can lead to orderly change and cost minimization. Action taken later may well be substantially more disruptive and expensive.
We therefore recommend the Government commit to work more closely with stakeholders in Hong Kong to gather momentum and support stronger action in the future.
Specifically, we recommend the following principles to the Chief Executive for 2020/21 Policy Address,
A clear, long-term vision of how Hong Kong will decarbonise linked to comprehensive road maps for both short- and long-term action.
Increased alignment and involvement across different government bureaus in joint government policy-making and delivery towards a clear, longer-term vision.
Engaging the public through stronger collaboration with local think-tanks, green groups and members of civil society, establish multiple channels to maintain two-way communication with stakeholders on matters such as daily operations and development approaches.
Enhancing institutional and financial support for action by green groups and think tanks which are relevant to the administration’s policy-making processes, as a means to engage with, understand and inform the Hong Kong public.
Strengthening moves for a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by:
Investing in climate resilient initiatives and buildings’ energy efficiency improvement
Accelerating the adoption of zero-emission vehicles in Hong Kong
Nurturing increases in Hong Kong’s use of renewable energy
Identifying future job requirements and providing training to growth employment in low-carbon emission sectors of Hong Kong’s economy
Invest in nature-based solutions which reduce Hong Kong’s carbon emissions and to enhance resilience.
Accelerate introduction of mandatory waste charging, producer responsibility for plastic containers and making the waste recycling systems more robust.
Each organization will write an individual submission with more specific suggestion on the topic they are working on.