Hong Kong, 23 February 2022 – Independent public policy think tank Civic Exchange welcomes the Hong Kong SAR Government’s 2022-2023 Budget and its commitment to build a liveable city and propel Hong Kong towards its 2050 carbon neutrality target.
We fully support making fighting COVID-19 Hong Kong’s current key mission, introducing measures to protect public health, stabilise the economy, and improve livelihoods.
However, COVID-19 is not our only challenge. In the long run, climate change also could lead to devastating impacts to our economy, livelihoods, and urban environment. In a few years Covid-19 will be history but Climate Change is likely to become more challenging up to 2050 and beyond. Therefore, we welcome the Financial Secretary’s affirmation of Hong Kong’s 2050 carbon neutrality target and the Budget’s emphasis on building a green and liveable city but more needs to be done.
Civic Exchange would specifically like four key points to be addressed. Here are the recommendations, which, if adopted, would only amplify the impact of the current commitments. For our detailed comments, please see download here.
- Transportation: The Traffic and Transport Strategy is welcome but the actual measures seem focused on changing to EVs rather than measures to reduce the amount of mobility required and to shift from cars and other resource intensive modes of transport to public transport.
- Green technology development: We appreciate the potential for the Strategic Tech Fund and Green Tech Fund to accelerate decarbonisation in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) but note that government’s attempts to ‘pick winners’ in technology development has a mixed history of success elsewhere. We suggest the funds focus, instead, on the enabling environment and removing regulatory barriers instead of ‘picking winners’.
- Green finance: Encouraging green finance products with Hong Kong striving to be a green finance hub in the GBA and beyond is welcome. This must be accompanied by proactive development of transition finance and regulatory standards to meet the twin objectives of building a more sustainable future and providing an appropriate return to investors in these products.
- Climate resilience: We welcome the strategic studies on coastal management aimed at providing guidelines on planning, land use and formulating the related long-term strategies and preventive measures. The IPCC predicts sea level rise will continue for centuries but notes great uncertainty as to how rapid it will be. Accordingly, Hong Kong needs a plan that covers a range of future scenarios. We recommend this plan include nature-based solutions for building-up defences against sea level rise. It also needs to identify areas that should be abandoned as uneconomic if sea-level rises by more than a certain amount. This planning should be transparent and inclusive.
As Hong Kong gradually recovers from the COVID-19 epidemic, we should focus on measures that bring us closer to carbon neutrality while also improving the quality of life of Hong Kong people. Through a ‘green’ recovery, Hong Kong can achieve sustained growth, maintain its status as an international financial centre, become more liveable, and resilient. Decarbonisation is critical to this and can generate promising prospects for our community.
Please refer to details of our Budget recommendations here.
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