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Hong Kong’s Council for Sustainable Development is currently running a public engagement programme as a part of the government’s Long-Term Decarbonisation Strategy. The interactive project aims to encourage public awareness about carbon emissions and climate change, and springboard conversations in the community about governmental strategies for carbon reduction. With the deadline coming up this Friday September 20th, there is no time to waste. This is our chance to voice our opinions to the Council, who will be making recommendations to authorities by the end of this year. Hong Kong resident & environmental lawyer Janice Baird has submitted a letter and an attached PDF putting forward several ideas, including carbon pricing, which you can support and use as part of your submission, or you can suggest your own views.
Under the Paris Agreement, Hong Kong has committed to reducing 26 – 36% of the absolute carbon emissions relative to 2005 levels by 2030, and at its current rate, we are nowhere near achieving this target. As a part of an initiative to decarbonise Hong Kong, the Sustainable Development Council has invited the Hong Kong public to submit their own opinions and views through email, or to fill out a this survey form online. The council will aggregate recommendations put forward by members of the public and present them to the government by the end of this year.
One of the letters submitted by Janice Baird proposes to implement carbon pricing. Carbon pricing can take place through a tax, whereby the government charges launches an incremental tax on corporations for greenhouse gas emissions. It can also mean some form of emissions trading scheme (ETS), which aims to cap the total emissions in Hong Kong by introducing an upper limit on corporate emissions, with the unused emission rights to be traded between companies.
“If a carbon price is implemented in Hong Kong, it should be revenue neutral, with funds used to assist the poor and vulnerable, to invest in energy efficient infrastructure and to encourage technological change.”Hong Kong resident & petitioner Janice Baird
With Hong Kong’s standing as one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita, urgent carbon action must be taken now. Last year, a University of Hong Kong (HKU) study revealed that Hong Kong generates 109 megatonnes of emissions annually, which makes the city the 7th highest emitter per capita among 113 regions around the world. One of the key findings was that meat and dairy consumption was the single biggest culprit of the city’s total emissions. If Hong Kong is to achieve its reduction goals outlined under the Paris Agreement, the government must take into consideration the footprint of imported foods, especially meat and dairy.
Hong Kong’s pervasive use of plastic is another major area the government can target if we are to reduce our carbon footprint. In April, a report by Greenpeace East Asia and the Education University found that Hong Kong’s seas are more polluted with microplastics than ever before, which researchers attributed to the city’s plastic packaging obsession. The use of plastics does not just contribute to the global waste crisis, but to climate change, with the production of plastics generating almost 1.8 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015. Manufacturing plastics requires the use of fossil fuels – and Hong Kong authorities’ “plastic-free schemes” are just not enough. Plastic use and production has to be targeted if we are to prevent burning through the world’s carbon budget any further.
So what can we do? We have until this Friday 20th September to voice our concerns about the government’s lack of progress regarding decarbonisation and to suggest policies that especially target carbon emitting corporations:
- complete this survey form online.
- Send a letter (via email) using Janice Baird’s sample letter and her attached PDF
We can also introduce habits that are more carbon-friendly in our daily lives to make a difference as individuals. It is far too late for incremental steps, we have to take climate action now.
Members of the Hong Kong public can send their views collection form to the Council Secretariat via Email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Post (46/F, Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong) or Fax (+852 3150 8168).
This article is a part of Green Queen’s collaboration in the Covering Climate Now project, a week-long initiative to raise global awareness of our planet’s climate emergency.
Lead image courtesy of Friends of the Earth HK.