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Environmental Scorecard: Rediscovering Hong Kong’s Climate Policy Direction

Our team has long identified a lack of awareness among Hong Kong people around not only the issues of climate change but the urgency of it. Earlier this year, Civic Exchange published the results of a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) on Peoples Attitudes towards Climate Change: only 16% of people in Hong Kong thought climate change was more important than other livelihood issues. [1]

In many ways, the above finding is hardly inconceivable. Despite the wealth of science out there to support the effects of climate change in Hong Kong, these sentiments have not been translated adequately into robust action.  Environmental organisations and local communities need to acknowledge that new and innovative methods of public engagement are necessary if we are to push for more ambitious reforms within the city.

A few months ago, our team began developing an Environmental Scorecard to rate different political parties on their environmental platform. Research like this is first of its kind in Hong Kong. We aim to assess political parties’ commitment to pressing environmental issues and sustainability challenges, to pick out areas of strengths and weaknesses, and to inform the party candidates what areas to address if they want to strive towards a green recovery for Hong Kong. Our team looked into government publications and reports, party manifestos, advocacy work and initiatives, Legislative Council speeches and voting records. After rounds of reviews, we turned our findings into a scorecard.

The scorecard’s framework enables easy comparison between the parties and is an effective way of communicating our evaluations and recommendations to them. However, the recent delay in LegCo election have resulted our decision to only be sharing the Scorecard results with the individual candidates and parties. We will continue to engage with candidates with their progress throughout. Although an ongoing pandemic has challenged our city, green recovery is key to our work in fighting climate change, and it shall never stall.

It is no question that climate change is a complex issue; its causes and effects are not easily understood. In our latest report, we found that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions by 90% if we act now. These reductions are only possible if people are concerned about the environment and committed to making Hong Kong a better place to live. To bring about responsive, effective and long-lasting changes, both at the individual and collective levels, we need committed leaders who are willing to spearhead environmental action within their communities. Hence, the Scorecard suggests basic yet constructive points of departure for candidates and parties to consider. It seeks to capture the expansive nature of climate action and climate justice; and if carefully considered and adopted, will be good places to start progressing Hong Kong to a net-zero emissions society.

There is no silver bullet to solving the global climate crisis today. Clearly, the Scorecard itself will not do it all for awareness and advocacy; but it creates the crucial intermediary step for local, business and governmental engagement. It serves as more than just foundational information base, but also a driver for parties to formulate pragmatic steps towards cultivating an environmental culture within communities.

“To speed up its policy-making, the Hong Kong government should borrow elements of the well-researched ideas and reports of the civil society groups and think-tanks that have been working on this for years,” writes Wendi Li for the Asia & Pacific Policy Society [2] The HK2050isNow team was launched in 2019 precisely for this cause. Our team is made up of a group of climate experts committed to establishing platforms for cross-sectoral dialogue and directing people to relevant stakeholders on issues that they wish to focus on, ultimately fostering networks for parties to enable them to acquire the capital and capacity necessary to set in motion environmental work.

Beyond working with political parties in crafting a green stimulus plan, we are committed to broadening the citys general scope of action and working with people across the vibrantly diverse demographic of Hong Kong, for we fully understand that ultimately, it is education that is at the heart of any meaningful climate action. Ideas without action are useless, but there is no action if there are no ideas.

By Curtis Lam, Civic Exchange Intern

[1] https://civic-exchange.org/peoples-attitudes-towards-climate-change-survey-results/

[2] https://www.policyforum.net/hong-kongs-climate-weakness/

Photo from CGTN