A long-term strategic plan to achieve carbon neutrality in Hong Kong by 2050 would be unveiled by the middle of this year, the city’s finance chief said on Sunday, as he vowed to tap into the opportunities brought on by the “green wave”.
Last year, the Council for Sustainable Development, which advises the government on environmental matters, formulated 55 recommendations covering sectors such as energy generation, transport and urban design after drawing on more than 71,000 responses to a public engagement exercise.
Among the recommendations were incentives and penalties to encourage developers to build more sustainable buildings, and a transition towards low-carbon transport systems.
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“The extreme weather witnessed all over the world has not only affected the lives and safety of residents of different places, but also the operations of businesses,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his weekly blog post.
“The Hong Kong government is currently considering the suggestions put forth by the Council for Sustainable Development last year on how to slash carbon emissions in the long run. We will announce our long-term strategic plan in achieving the goal of [carbon neutrality by 2050] in the middle of the year.”
It followed Beijing’s own announcement in late September that it would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, as well as similar pledges from Japan and South Korea to hit the same target by 2050. Hong Kong’s previous climate action plan, released in 2017, had only pledged a 26 to 36 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, down from 2005 levels.
Chan said many of the HK$10 billion (US$1.29 billion) worth of environmental initiatives he introduced in his previous budget blueprint had already been implemented.
More than 120 private estates, with 36,000 parking spaces between them, had already applied for the government’s HK$2 billion subsidy scheme to upgrade charging facilities for electric vehicles since December, he said.
Meanwhile, about 40 electric public light buses subsidised by the government were expected to hit the road soon in different districts, he added, while around 40,000 diesel commercial vehicles conforming to outdated emissions standards would be gradually phased out.
He also said the price of recycled waste paper had also stabilised at HK$1 per kilogram – up from 30 HK cents at its lowest point – since the government launched a scheme to boost the city’s recycling industry last year.
Chan said promoting sustainable living and economic development would require systematic changes, which would create new opportunities and jobs. “We have to seize the potential brought by this green wave,” he added.
This article Hong Kong’s financial chief promises to release carbon neutrality strategy by midyear first appeared on South China Morning Post