Letters from leaders of Hong Kong's political parties and government departments.
Hong Kong has just had the hottest October ever in history and we probably will have the hottest November as well.
Typhoon became more frequent and within a short a period of five days, Hong Kong was struck by two severe tropical typhoons Hato and Pakhar in August where typhoon signal number 8 and number 10 were hoisted.
Severe weather conditions have become more frequent in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
In thousands of miles away in Fiji, this island state has recorded a significant rise in its sea level since 1993 which has exceeded than the global average. Tropical storm cyclone Winston slammed Fiji last year causing massive damages and tens of thousands of people have been displaced. Fiji though remains one of the smallest contributors on earth to carbon emission, it faces the most severe form of extreme weather condition due to global warming.
Fiji is the presidency of the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in the past two weeks in Bonn this year (“COP 23”). The objective of COP 23 is to gather more than 200 nations together to discuss the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement signed in 2015, in particular, the participating nations would want to work out the details on how to make the Paris Agreement fully operational and how nations could obtain the support to reach their climate change emission reduction goals.
The Paris Agreement set out a target to keep global temperature rise within this century to below 2 degrees above pre-industrial level – nations should also pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to a more aggressive target of 1.5 degrees.
There is a shared global responsibility for every country and every city to help reach this target.
Hong Kong is a member of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (“C40”). C40 connects 90 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 650 million people and one quarter of the global economy. C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Carrie Lam, in her first policy address last month, set out her vision of building Hong Kong into a liveable city. The policy address advocates low-carbon transformation. One such low-carbon transformation measure is to adopt cleaner fuels including natural gas and the use of more renewable energy in order to phase out most of our coal-fired generation units still used by the two power generation companies.
The use of renewable energy has become an important tool to tackle climate change. Local electricity generation is the biggest contributor to carbon emission – accounting for around 70% of the emission. Currently, we have only barely less than 1 % of our electricity coming from renewable sources.
The Government believes that due to the geographical and natural constraints in Hong Kong, a realisable renewal energy could only be reached at a mediocre 3 to 4 % by 2030.
In contrast, EU’s renewable energy directives set a binding target of 20% final energy consumption by 2020 and all EU countries have adopted national renewable energy action plans showing the actions they would take to meet the renewable energy targets.
Even given the physical constraints, Hong Kong should be doing much better by obtaining renewable energy sources from solar, wind power and waste-to-energy set-ups. A more progressive renewable energy target should be set.
In addition to the pilot floating photovoltaic system in reservoirs, developing solar energy using roofs of covered walkways and flyovers, restored landfill sites and rock slopes should be actively considered.
Greener building is internationally recognised as one of the solutions to avert climate change. Buildings in Hong Kong are major energy consumers. They contribute to about 90% of the electricity consumption in Hong Kong. It is essential for the Government to take a lead and improve energy efficiency in government and public buildings and in housing estates. More importantly, it is also time to tighten up the minimum energy efficiency standards and requirements under the “Code of Practice for Energy Efficiency Building Services Installation.” In addition, we should consider shortening the 10-year energy audit cycle requirement.
Hong Kong is a city surrounded by water. I am glad to let you know that the water quality of Victoria Harbour has greatly improved following the completion of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme Stage 2A, and I have successfully completed a Cross Harbour Swim two weeks ago.
There is however another recent concern about our water quality, as microplastic contamination has been found in tap water in many countries, and microplastic has been polluting our ocean and move up our food chain through the fish and sea product we consume. Hong Kong has yet to adopt standards to measure microplastic contamination in our water supply system. On a macro level I will advocate the introduction of legislation to phase out sale of cosmetics and personal care products which contain microplastics by 2030.
I hope Hong Kong will become a truly liveable city and you will enjoy living and working here after your graduation.
Dad (19 November 2017)