How Hong Kong can speed up the move towards carbon neutrality

(13 March 2024 SCMP)
Many Hongkongers may not be aware of the court case won last month by Michael Mann, a climate scientist, which sends us an important message: the courts will not let climate deniers run amok with misinformation. The landmark judgment came at the end of a 12-year legal battle Mann fought against two right-wing writers who attacked his work, and is a reminder that we should not bury our heads in the sand on climate issues.
In Hong Kong, people generally believe that we are facing a climate emergency. However, how proactive the city has been in tackling it has been in doubt in the past few years. In 2022, total greenhouse gas emissions were 4 per cent lower than in 2021 but still about 1 per cent higher than in 2020. Has Hong Kong acted fast enough on decarbonisation?
The European Union announced on February 6 that it will slash its net greenhouse gas by 90 per cent by 2040. Hong Kong needs to speed up its efforts on tackling climate change by investing in zero-carbon power generation.
Electricity generation was the largest source of carbon emissions (around 63 per cent) in 2022. Reduction of carbon in the fuel mix will hit the bull’s eye and, together with education and promotion of the smart use of energy, will lead us to carbon neutrality sooner.
The transport sector is second to electricity generation in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, we need bolder steps to introduce low- or zero-emission energy like hydrogen.
Although the Climate Action Plan 2050 said that hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses and heavy vehicles will be tested by 2024, we need to move faster on the introduction of such technology and the supply of green hydrogen eventually.
Foshan took six years to bring in 1,000 hydrogen buses in 2021. By referencing Foshan’s experience, Hong Kong can surely shorten the time needed to develop our green transport.
Finally, 2024 is a landmark year for Hong Kong on the path to managing its waste sustainably. With the implementation of waste charging and the banning of single-use plastics this year, the government and residents should step up efforts to minimise waste, which will help lower the city’s carbon footprint.
The US lawsuit is another timely reminder for us to shift to a low-carbon lifestyle and business operations.
Rico Wong, Deputy director, The Green Earth
Link: How Hong Kong can speed up the move towards carbon neutrality