Hong Kong poised to help China reach its climate change goals
- The city is among Asia’s front-runners in taking action on the environment and is in a strong position to be the premier green finance centre for the Greater Bay Area and region. With continued investment and sustainable lifestyles, local goals can be met and a significant contribution made towards attaining national targets
Of the many threats the world faces, none is bigger than climate change. Droughts, floods and wildfires have become more frequent and dramatic and Hong Kong recently got a taste in sharp rises and falls in temperatures. The Post is committed to providing accurate and trustworthy news so that readers are informed and know how best to respond. While the city is small in area, its position as a major financial hub and conduit for business and investment between mainland China and the world gives it an important role.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, in his keynote address, laid out the investments and achievements to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and contribute to the global target of limiting global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. Power plants are cutting back on fossil fuels, electric vehicles are more prevalent and waste -to-energy and waste-to-resources facilities are rising in number. Decarbonisation efforts have achieved laudable results, emissions being down about 20 per cent in 2020 on 2005 levels. That puts the city in good stead to attain a target of carbon neutrality by 2050, 10 years ahead of the national aim.
But it is perhaps in green and sustainable finance that Hong Kong’s biggest contribution lies. The volume of such debt issued in the city last year reached a record US$57 billion, a quadrupling from 2020 that proves vitality and potential. Of that, US$31.3 billion was in bonds, placing the city top for such financial instruments in the region. Shenzhen’s issuing in Hong Kong last October of the first offshore RMB municipal government bonds was a positive sign and efforts are under way to encourage more mainland entities to follow suit. When global standards for reporting and assessing climate and sustainability risks are unveiled, investors would have greater transparency and certainty.
Coupling investment vehicles that can provide a safe and steady income with a reliable means of raising capital to protect the environment makes good use of Hong Kong’s status. It is precisely the thinking that will help the city play its part in ensuring China meets its climate change obligations.