The first week of this month, the HKSAR Government released its ‘Hong Kong Climate Change Report 2015,’ the culmination of interdepartmental cooperation to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and to create more sustainable environment. Held at the ZCB aka Zero Carbon Building in Kowloon Bay (which perhaps is largely unknown to the greater Hong Kong public), public agencies were yielded the floor to speak on their own part in regards to this timely topic.
The message the event imparted was clear: It’s high time that Hong Kong does something. As of now, the global community’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions have been insufficient, as evidenced by changing temperatures and adverse effects that are seen across the world. However, with diligent cooperation and drastic measures to do its part, Hong Kong can rightly be a part of the efforts to be truly impactful, and can serve as a regional leader in best practices for other governments in the region.
Hong Kong must continue to be at the forefront of advocacy for the battle against climate change, as the whole world embarks to rectify what it has already done to the environment. By enlisting different departments and educating and involving students on next steps, thought leaders in the city seek to make this change. Altogether, Hong Kong has decreased its CO2 emissions by nearly 20 percent since 2005, it altogether hopes to achieve a 50 percent reduction by 2020.
Combining the forces of the Environmental Protection Department, alongside the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the Food and Health Bureau, as well as the Security Bureau, the report was a joint effort to review Hong Kong’s ongoing efforts to combat the global warming issue at hand, from varying perspectives as puzzle pieces across sectors.
Both Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, and Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment, were present to welcome industry leaders from the Business Environment Council in what felt like a familial atmosphere.
Some measures already put into place include reducing the use of private vehicles. Yau Shing-mu, Under Secretary for Transport and Housing, pointed out that Hong Kong is a paragon of public transportation use, with more than 12 million passengers using the MTR, buses, ferries and other modes per day. However, he solemnly observed that buildings could be much improved in their footprint, as building energy efficiency is of the utmost concern, with 90 percent of the city’s electricity consumed by buildings.
At the end of the month, Hong Kong will participate in the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), which will seek to bring countries together to create a “binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.”
Last year’s COP20 in Peru created the “Lima Call for Climate Action” and this year’s conference hopes to utilize the platform to create a comprehensive change. Secretary Wong will attend as part of the Chinese delegation in Paris, and hopefully will come back with concrete ideas from the rest of the collaborators on how to work together to achieve these aims.
After the conclusion of COP21, Under Secretary Loh stated that she hopes to convene once again to collaborate in navigating local politics in the universal fight against global warming and climate change. Without full cooperation between the HKSAR Government and businesses alike, as well as the interest from students of the next generation in Hong Kong, it will be impossible to make a difference.