Hong Kong only gets C- in climate change combat efforts: NGO

April 17, 2019 15:48
Hong Kong is emitting 561 grams of carbon dioxide for each unit of electricity produced, far more than its neighboring cities, says CarbonCare InnoLab’s John Sayer (standing). Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong has not done enough as a member of the C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group, a non-government organization (NGO) said on Tuesday, as it called on the government to step up efforts to deal with climate change.

According to the NGO CarbonCare InnoLab (CCIL), whose mission is to encourage innovation that is relevant to local needs while also contributing to solving global challenges, Hong Kong has only received an overall C- rating in terms of its performance on reducing carbon emissions and enhancing energy efficiency, the responsibilities it needs to shoulder as member of C40.

Based on the Paris Agreement adopted by nearly 200 nations in December 2015, man-made global net carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels and reach “net zero” by 2050.

Following the agreement, the C40, which Hong Kong joined in 2007, asked its members to achieve the goal of reducing per capital carbon emissions to 2 metric tons by 2030.

To see if Hong Kong has met the request made by C40, the CCIL commissioned six experts to rate the city's efforts in eight categories, with the results to be put in the first Paris Watch Hong Kong Report Card.

Releasing the report at a press conference on Tuesday, CCIL research director John Sayer, who is in charge of the Paris Watch project, said the “Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+” announced by the government in early 2017 only required the per capital carbon emissions to decrease from 5.7 metric tons in 2016 to 3.3 to 3.38 metric tons by 2030.

Given the target, the emissions will still be 78 percent higher than the goal set by the C40, Sayer noted.

As such, Hong Kong was only rated D+ in the category of reducing emission of greenhouse gases-mainly carbon dioxide, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

As for use of renewable energy, Hong Kong received E+, the lowest among the eight rated categories.

Sayer estimated that Hong Kong has the capability to raise the proportion of such energy in the electricity mix to 21 percent by 2030, compared to the 3-4 percent goal set by the government.

The overall performance rating given to Hong Kong was C-, the CCIL said.

Sayer pointed out that Hong Kong, which still relies heavily on coal burning to generate electricity, is emitting 561 grams of carbon dioxide for each unit of electricity produced, far more than its neighboring cities.

In related news, CCIL chairman Lee Chi-ming criticized the environmental assessment for the government's Lantau reclamation project, labeling the projections as being imprecise.

The assessment report should have taken more climate-related factors into consideration, Lee said.

In response, the Environment Bureau said the Council for Sustainable Development, following a call from the government, will start a public engagement process in the next few months with the aim of devising a long-term decarbonization strategy for the period until 2050.

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