Three New Year wishes for a greener Hong Kong
- Improve recycling efforts to cut waste, tackle carbon emissions by power plants, and promote the green finance drive, with the HKMA leading the way
It is that time of the year again – the start of a new year with hopefully new resolutions to accomplish. Whether it is to become fit, be more environmentally responsible, or simply become a better person, we all have our personal goals; but what about for the city? Let’s make a wish list for Hong Kong by reflecting on how we did in 2018.
Since China’s restriction on waste imports at the start of 2018, the flaws of our resource management system have become ever more apparent. In addition to waste produced locally, industrial waste imported from around the world is also ending up in landfills here, as they are stripped for high-value recyclables to be shipped to the mainland. The silver lining is that the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment treatment and recycling facility, or WEEE-Park, has opened, and a producer responsibility scheme has been launched.
The government has also tabled the much-belated bill on the municipal solid waste charging scheme. Unfortunately, it is not expected to be implemented until 2020 at the earliest.
On efforts to slow climate change, Hong Kong is not doing enough. Almost 70 per cent of our carbon emission still comes from generating electricity. While a feed-in tariff scheme has been introduced and the government plans to install renewable energy equipment on its premises, it is far from enough to decarbonise our electricity supply.
Climate change can exacerbate extreme weather, which causes serious damage. The devastation wrought by Typhoon Mangkhut in September 2018 could lead to insurance claims of US$1 billion in Hong Kong alone.
Perhaps somewhat laudable is the growing awareness in green finance. With the launch of the green finance certification scheme and plans for a HK$100 billion green bond programme, the government is enabling green projects while signalling a strong push to position Hong Kong as a regional green finance hub.
There are many wishes for Hong Kong in 2019, but we won’t be greedy: we will keep it to just three.
One, we hope the government will address the core issues hindering the local recycling industry’s growth. In view of the import ban in mainland China, we need to make a transition towards a circular economy model.
Two, with plans to draw up the city’s long-term decarbonisation strategy, we wish to see more aggressive climate targets that will meet, if not exceed, those laid down by other international cities.
Three, we want the government to realise the full potential of green finance, with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, one of the largest asset owners globally, making responsible investment.
Wendell Chan, programme officer, Friends of the Earth (HK)