綠惜減碳 ENERGY SMART AND CARBON LOW
Hong Kong to become a carbon-neutral city before 2050
In 2021, the government committed Hong Kong to be carbon-neutral before 2050 and the Environment Bureau published the Climate Action Plan 2050 in the same year focusing on three major aspects covering electricity generation, transport and waste management.
The per capita carbon footprint of Hong Kong people is 4.5 tonnes in 2020 where the government roadmap suggests to drive it down to between 2 to 3 tonnes by 2035 and to become zero before 2050.
Currently, the city still relies heavily on fossil fuels – coal, natural gas and nuclear for electricity generation while renewable energy such as wind and solar has started to grow gradually due to the introduction of the feed-in tariff scheme in late 2018.
Replacing fossil fuels with zero-carbon renewable energies requiring substantial financial investments and infrastructure development. But we must commit enough resources to ensure a speedy and smooth transition to clean renewables.
Simultaneously, the government needs to further enhance the energy efficiency standards for buildings and equipment while the private sector must strive to conserve energy by enhancing the energy efficiency of all buildings and promoting energy conservation for commercial entities, education institutes as well as households.
Energy conservation requires relatively smaller financial investments while technologies are readily available on the market, moreover, it will yield considerable savings in terms of energy and money in a shorter period of time if appropriate measures and technologies were applied.
By just walking around your office and home or going out to some commercial districts to look around for energy wasting situations, you will be amazed by the energy wastefulness of the city. From light pollution generated by large signage or LED wall to cool air blowing out from purposely unclosed doors of commercial and government buildings. All of which have contributed to energy wastage and resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions warming up the planet.
The Green Earth is pleased to help you identify the areas for improvement and is experienced in motivating your colleagues and tenants to improve by changing behaviour and taking action. Contact us via our email [email protected] or phone 3708 8380.
1: Hong Kong to be a carbon-neutral city
First of all, we need to know that the three major contributors of the city’s carbon emissions are electricity generation, transport and waste, which accounted for 66 percent, 18 percent and 7 percent respectively based on the 2019 production-based accounting. In production-based accounting for carbon emissions, the embodied carbon arising from our consumption will not be included.
Currently, less than 1 percent of the city’s electricity generation came from zero-carbon renewable energies such as solar or wind. Though the uptake of electric vehicles (private car) is not slow compared to other Asian cities, these vehicles were not recharged by zero-carbon energy, therefore they are yet to be a type of zero-carbon transport. The 7 percent of carbon emissions from waste came from the decomposition of organic waste in landfills mainly.
To transition Hong Kong to be a carbon-neutral city, the government must drive those three sectors to decarbonize according to a set of targets coupled with respective timelines by increasing the development of zero-carbon and clean energies locally and regionally via partnership with the Greater Bay Area, and by diverting organic waste (food waste mainly) away from landfills to facilities for generating bio-energy.
Apart from decarbonizing the three aspects mentioned above, the city still needs to find ways for sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to enhance the city’s ability and pace in carbon reduction. Though there is not much agricultural land, making use of the existing farmlands to pursue regenerative agriculture is a proven natural way to transform gaseous carbon in the air to become carbon substances locked by the soil and at the same time to provide better soil for growing food for humanity.
Though the city has designated 40 percent of its land as country park, there are still lots of barren places not covered by forests or even vegetation. The government should collaborate with various sectors of society to increase the forest coverage by planting local tree species, which will then help store more atmospheric carbon via a sustainable natural carbon sink.
2: To reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy
Locally, the city should speed up the development of renewable energies such as solar and wind to their full potentials. Off-shore wind farm technologies have advanced a lot today while their costs have dropped much. The two power companies should seek approval from the government as soon as possible for the development of off-shore wind farms to provide the city with an option of zero-carbon clean energy.
The city had 17 impounding reservoirs providing a suitable venue for the development of floating photovoltaic systems to produce zero-carbon clean energy. With strict environmental monitoring and control, the government could use money received from the green bonds to establish such kind of systems on all reservoirs swiftly. The government has already conducted pilot projects on two reservoirs to demonstrate their viability and effectiveness.
The floating dock built by the local power companies for receiving LNG from worldwide is a facility that can also be used in the future for receiving zero-carbon fuels such as green hydrogen for use by electricity generation and transport.
Should the city work faster in these areas, we can greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy which emit greenhouse gas and produces radioactive waste respectively.
3: To strengthen the light pollution regulation
With rapid urbanization, artificial light at night (ALAN) to illuminate cities for night-time activities is on the rise worldwide. Many studies have suggested that excessive use of external lighting causing light pollution to harm human health and leads to energy wastage. As one of the developed cities being affected by light pollution seriously, Hong Kong has tried to address this issue via different means for decades. However, studies that can quantitatively evaluate the problem of light pollution are lacking in the city.
Hong Kong currently does not have any law or regulation for monitoring the light pollution problem. In 2016, the Environment Bureau launched the Charter on External Lighting, a voluntary scheme for property owners and operators to reduce the use of external lighting for buildings.
Despite more than 5,000 signatories have signed the charter, light pollution complaints received by the government continued to rise. After two years of the launch of the Charter, the total light nuisance complaints increased from 335 in 2016 to 477 in 2018; nearly half of the complaints were related to retail lighting, signboards, and video walls.
The Green Earth believes Hong Kong should develop a set of guidelines or protocols for assessing the light pollution impact quantitatively and introduce laws and ordinances to regulate the use of external lighting, to alleviate the local light nuisance problem. Our recent research findings can be viewed from the Journal:
4: To live with a low-carbon lifestyle
There are many ways one can adopt for living with a low-carbon lifestyle where you may have established such practices already but are not aware of the carbon reduction effect they can bring.
First of all, we must examine the embodied carbon from our consumption of a wide range of commodities from energy to water, food, garment, and many other consumables.
Eating less meat or going vegetarian will cut around half of the embodied carbon on food consumption. Beef and lamb have the highest carbon footprint among other food.
Buying stuff from local sources or places closer to Hong Kong will lower the embodied carbon of product delivery.
Shopping cannot be a hobby, and it should be done only when a need arises. Avoid online shopping will help reduce packaging waste and thereby reduce your carbon footprint.
No matter staying at home or working at office, saving electricity is no doubt an effective way of cutting carbon emissions. Cooling and heating appliances use the most electricity among other equipment, so not always relying on mechanical cooling or heating will save energy. Better ventilation by using a fan and insulating your home or office from solar radiation will give you a more comfortable environment without the need for turning on the air conditioning systems.
Some people might think that water consumption does not have any relationship with carbon reduction, which is wrong. To deliver water from reservoirs to our home, not to mention the water treatment processes in different treatment plants, requiring a lot of energy in pumping water from afar and from ground-level to high-level. Therefore, saving water is another way to reduce energy consumption and thereby cutting carbon emissions.
Taking public transport or walking generates very little carbon compared to driving a private vehicles, especially those gas guzzling cars. Walking is also a good exercise to keep you healthy.
Reducing waste, especially food waste, will lower your carbon footprint as food will rot when buried in landfills to emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
There are indeed many ways for us to reduce our carbon footprint that cannot be all listed here, so contact us via our email [email protected] or phone 3708 8380, our team is pleased to tell you more.