The core requirement missing—sustainable development
The core requirement for Hong Kong to address climate change is a Sustainable Low Carbon Development (SLCD) framework. This would set a broad policy direction that integrates all actions within the HKSAR Government. The SLCD framework should be built upon a clear vision and roadmap and with a focus on measurable and transparent reductions of GHG emissions. Such a framework will also require bolder targets than the proposed 50%-60% improvements in energy intensity by 2020.
- Fuel switch—The public’s view on nuclear power remains divided, and it is essential for the HKSAR Government to increase public education and discussion on areas of concern.
- Buildings—The HKSAR Government must focus on reducing energy usage in existing buildings. Mandatory disclosure of energy performance is the key to stimulating market-driven transformation, while better integration of policies and processes (including procurement, design and management) will lead to more effective and efficient interventions. The key technical interventions are commissioning, re-commissioning and retrofitting of buildings.
- Greener Transport—The starting point should be the development of a vision for people-oriented, low carbon transport in a livable and sustainable city. Various options should then be considered in light of how effectively they help Hong Kong meet this vision. Walking, cycling and public transport should be a key part to a sustainable transport plan for Hong Kong. Private electric vehicles (EVs) could be one part of that vision, but will require a co-ordinated approach the complex aspects of policy necessary to engender public confidence, so that EVs become their preferred option when choosing a private automobile.
- Waste—Capturing methane and combining incineration with small scale generation seem obvious steps to take within a much deeper rethink of the large-scale crisis that has driven the demand to turn country parks into landfills.
Issues that require much more attention include uncertainty in our water supply as a result of changed rainfall patterns, the need to provide linkages between our country parks to help our biodiversity adapt,
and developing plan to address shoreline flooding.
Building a more robust, efficient and livable city
We need new tools to promote sustainable low carbon development. A new approach for Hong Kong would be to require net GHG emissions to be assessed in any planning application, EIA study or sustainability assessment for any development project. This should also be mandatory for all government planning at the district, regional, territory, and PRD level. In the wider context, this could also be used to assess the sustainability of all new policy initiatives, an approach that is being widely adopted overseas.