Opinion | Leading Hong Kong towards the goal of carbon neutrality
By Chan Yan Long, Youth Commentator of The Arete
The government announced the "Hong Kong Climate Action Plan 2050" in October last year, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan proposes four major carbon reduction strategies, including net-zero electricity generation, energy-saving and green buildings, green transportation, and waste reduction. At the same time, it offers several related measures to reduce carbon emissions. Among them, net-zero power generation and energy-saving green buildings are relatively lack of general public discussions. The purpose of analyzing the shortcomings of the current policies, is to improve existing policy and achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible.
First, in terms of net-zero electricity generation, the government stated that it will no longer use coal for daily electricity generation by 2035.Still, in 2020, 24% of Hong Kong's electricity was generated by coal, which means 8.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year should be replaced by other energy sources within 15 years. The government expected to reduce coal electricity generation and switch to natural gas and non-fossil fuels. HK Electric announced in May that it plans to build a large-scale offshore wind farm in the waters southwest of Lamma Island, which is estimated to produce about 400 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. However, 8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity still need to be replaced yearly. It is suggested the government should formulate a detailed timetable and roadmap for renewable energy and other clean energy sources, clearly plan how to meet the specific plan of electricity demand. The planning should then be used as a basis to explore exceptional financial support for power companies and provide regular subsidies for citizens' Electricity bills or to issue public bonds to deal with energy infrastructure. Increasing investment should also be considered in different technologies such as floating solar power generation systems, implementing various measures for net-zero power generation in the form of "combined punches," to further increase the proportion of non-fossil fuels, reaching goals set by the government.
Secondly, in terms of energy-saving and green buildings, the government hopes to reduce the overall electricity consumption of buildings by promoting green buildings, improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and strengthening the implementation of low-carbon living.Hong Kong has a so-called green building rating. Still, most of the ratings are voluntary and only be classified as gold and platinum, making it difficult to attract developers to participate. It is suggested that we can refer to Singapore's practice and formulate more comprehensive mandatory building environment standards. All public buildings with an area of more than 5,000 square meters must undergo compulsory green building certification, including general non-residential buildings and new government buildings, HDB flats, and refurbished HDB flats. As a result, more than 40% of buildings in Singapore had been certified with the Green Mark in 2019. Hong Kong can use public institution buildings as experimental sites, such as municipal buildings in various districts, immigration buildings, the Legislative Council complex, etc., and split the ratings into more detailed, adding silver awards and diamond awards to more clearly Standards help score buildings, and then expand the scope to public housing estates, etc. I suggest the government study the establishment of a tiered reward plan and provide tax incentives or policy convenience according to the level of certification obtained to increase stakeholders' enthusiasm to participate.
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