BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL AND CLIMATE CHANGE BUSINESS FORUM
RESPONSE TO HONG KONG’S CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY AND ACTION AGENDA
The Business Environment Council (BEC) and Climate Change Business Forum (CCBF) approached this public consultation in a serious and systematic manner, befitting the importance of the climate change issue. We undertook a multi-stage internal communications process with member companies, employing focus groups, phone interviews, and electronic communications to develop and refine the ideas presented below. Our objective was not simply to respond to the questions posed. Instead, it was to elicit constructive critique and feedback, to inform the path-breaking work ahead of us to build a more sustainable, resilient society.
BEC and CCBF recognize climate change as one of the gravest challenges facing our society and our world. As such, we welcome, and firmly support, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government’s plan to achieve an absolute reduction in carbon emissions of between 19%-33% by 2020.
We see the Government’s proposed plan as a sound foundation upon which to galvanize public consensus and initiate concrete action. Yet ten years is a short time frame for ambitious reductions, and our lack of experience in this area introduces inherent uncertainty about how much reduction each element of the plan can deliver. Thus we advocate a series of interim milestones leading up to 2020, and extended targets thereafter. We also make specific suggestions with regard to each of the four main areas of the Government’s plan, and suggest two additional areas related to engaging the population and Government Carbon Leadership.
Greater specificity, and more systemic policy action, in each of these six areas will increase our chance for success in meeting the prescribed goals. They will also increase the speed and efficiency with which Hong Kong transitions to a low carbon economy. The six areas are as follows:
- Transport: The focus should be a comprehensive low-carbon transport plan. A centerpiece would be encouraging the adoption of cleaner-fuel buses, upgrading all existing buses which can be retrofitted to meet international standards, and phasing out those that cannot. This action alone would have enormous public health benefits for Hong Kong residents and visitors.
- Electricity Generation: While supporting the Government’s proposed evolution of the fuel mix, BEC and CCBF recognize it is critical the plan earn support from both the Central People’s Government and the Hong Kong public. Safety is the utmost concern: the Hong Kong SAR Government must demonstrate that the technology used for power generation and transmission facilities are the most advanced and safe available today.
- Buildings: Increasing energy efficiency in existing buildings must be core to any plan. Thus BEC and CCBF would advocate supplementing the Government’s plan with a mandatory building energy performance and upgrade system.
- Waste: Incineration and waste-to-energy systems are necessary elements of an overall waste management scheme. They should be optimized by introducing upstream waste reduction, segregation, reuse and recycling programs.
- Engaging the Population: Behavioral change is hard, but necessary, for a low carbon society. We would advocate measures to raise awareness and make low carbon choices more attractive and less costly, and higher-carbon choices less attractive, for Hong Kong consumers.
- Government Carbon Leadership: The Hong Kong SAR Government can exhibit market and moral suasion by setting aggressive carbon reduction targets for government activities, and reporting progress annually.