SCMP: Mr Lo Wai Kong’s letter “Environmental experts should map out a long-term carbon neutral strategy for Hong Kong” raised an excellent point.
Our think tank, Civic Exchange, has crafted a road map as part of its new partnership initiative, HK2050isnow.org. The initiative was announced in June this year to drive the discussion on transitioning to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
After a year of consultations, data analysis and modelling, the consortium published a report in June titled “Towards a Better Hong Kong: Pathways to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050”. It shows how our city can reduce its carbon emissions by 90 per cent, relative to 2005 levels, by 2050 and offset the remaining 10 per cent through hard-to-abate sectors.
The greatest potential for reducing emissions comes from improving electricity generation, making buildings more energy efficient and promoting a more sustainable mobility sector. The report, with its detailed modelling exercise, incorporating scientific, technical and economic perspectives, makes policy recommendations to strengthen the pathway towards net zero emissions. They include:
● Power decarbonisation: 27 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) emissions can be abated by developing local renewable energy sources and sourcing more nuclear and renewable energy from neighbouring regions, as well as replacing coal with natural gas. This should be coupled with carbon capture and storage when that technology is widely available, followed by replacing gas with green hydrogen
● Building energy efficiency: 10.6 MtCO2 emissions can be abated through a range of energy efficiency enhancements. Buildings and infrastructure constructed between 2020 and 2030 are likely to be still in use in 2050. They must comply with much stricter energy efficiency standards, including retrofits and improved operational management.
● Mobility: 6.7 MtCO2 emissions can be abated by avoiding journeys through better town planning, shifting away from frequent journeys on inefficient transport and improving transport management.
The HK 2050 is Now report provides the city with a road map to a low-carbon future under a decarbonised framework. However, the transition is a major undertaking that requires effort from the government, the private sector and the public.
The private sector clearly has a critical role to play in financing climate transition projects and shifting social norms towards a net zero society. Increased investment and collaboration among government, research bodies and industry participants will be key to achieving this.
Lawrence Iu, programme manager, Civic Exchange
Originally published on SCMP on 26 October 2020