International experts warn Hong Kong business to consider the implications of a price being put on their carbon emissions in the future

(April 15th 2008, Hong Kong) Two leading UK based academics today urged Hong Kong businesses to take climate change seriously with the launch of the hard hitting Carbon Grill Series, a seminar organized by the Climate Change Business Forum (CCBF), which "grills" international experts on the economics and science of climate change.

It is widely acknowledged that climate change is happening, and that it is due to the greenhouse gases being emitted by our society. Whilst many companies see the impact of climate changes as a distant issue, avoiding the impacts that it will have on business, the environment and the economy in the future, requires action now. Governments from around the world are working on the issue as part of the process started in Bali last December to find a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. These regulations and the consequent 'carbon constraint' will have a big impact on businesses.

The Hon Mr CY Leung, CCBF Patrons Committee Chairman and Asia Pacific chairman of DTZ, opened the interactive "Carbon Grill" seminar which is sponsored by Swire, by saying: "We should all be treating climate change with a far greater degree of urgency than is happening now. It's very important that Hong Kong businesses understand that it is likely their business will be affected and that there will be a significant cost involved."

Eminent UK Professor John Shepherd, of Southampton University, said "The scientific evidence on man-made global warming is now beyond reasonable doubt, and the consequences of "business-as-usual" will be intolerable. We now need to start making some serious reductions of carbon emissions, at around 2% per year globally for the next fifty years or so. However, the developed world needs to do significantly more than this, as soon as possible, to allow for continuing economic development elsewhere. This is going to be hard to achieve, but should not be impossible, if we get started right away."

Stern Report collaborator, Assistant Professor Simon Dietz of the London School of Economics, delivered a powerful economic message: that climate change threatens to be the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen, creating a level of disruption to economic activity comparable with the First and Second World Wars. However he emphasized that it is still possible to avoid the worst impacts, with technologies that are already commercially available or are in the pipeline.

Dr Dietz, who recently helped the UK Government factor in 'Shadow Carbon Pricing', also spoke of a growing awareness of the importance of "putting a price on carbon". He said that while debate continues over the two basic ways to do this, a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, the advantages are becoming increasingly clear and should be taken seriously by business.

Both Professors were 'grilled' by Hugh Chiverton, Head of Radio 3, and Professor Bill Barron an Environmental Economist at HKUST for details on their subjects.

Professor Barron said "We must reduce carbon emissions. But prices today do not reflect the damage being done and so carbon emissions continue to rise. A cap and trade system is the most efficient way to put a price on carbon and much of the trading would involve China, the world's manufacturing hub. Hong Kong, as the bridge between China and the rest of the world, is well positioned to become the regional carbon trading centre."

The event was moderated by Dr Andrew Thomson, CEO of the Business Environment Council (BEC). Dr Thomson highlighted that it is "critical to bring this message of action to businesses in the region, and dispel any view that this is just an issue for western economies."

If you are interested to learn more about the seminar, you could click on the following links to view the presentation from two professors:

About the Climate Change Business Forum
The Climate Change Business Forum (CCBF) is an initiative of the Business Environment Council (BEC). Its purpose is to be a platform that brings together industry leaders and climate change specialists, to engage in research; to develop and communicate best practices, and to assist in the development of sound climate change policies for Hong Kong. Membership of the CCBF comes from five key sectors, namely, power, transport, property, manufacturing, and finance. These sectors have been chosen as significant users of energy or producers of products whose use results in substantial emissions of greenhouse gases; some will have assets or investments that will be adversely affected by changes in climate; all face the prospect of increased regulation in one form or another.

The CCBF is chaired by the Hon Mr LEUNG Chun-ying GBS JP, Chairman, DTZ, Asia Pacific and Convenor of the Executive Council and Mr Tony Tyler, Chair of the Executive Committee and Chief Executive of Cathay Pacific. The CCBF is founded by five high profile Patron companies: Cathay Pacific, Hang Lung Group Ltd, HSBC, Sino Group, and Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong). Plus, twelve founding Gold members: Bank of East Asia, Chevalier Group, CLP Holdings Ltd, DTZ, Hong Kong Electric Company Ltd, Hong Kong Land Holding Ltd, Lai Sun Group, MTR Corporation, Towngas, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., Swire Pacific Ltd., plus support from the British Consulate-General.

The CCBF aims:

  • To identify and communicate the opportunities and risks businesses will face from climate change

  • To commission research on the impacts of climate change to business, relevant to Hong Kong on both a local and international level

  • To influence the business community to take concrete steps to reduce emission and share best practice on the carbon intensity of businesses

  • To engage with other key local and international organizations with an interest in the climate change issue