By Ho Kwan-yiu
The world is concerned about environmental protection, and the Hong Kong Government has also made environmental protection policies a priority in its future administration. In the 2021 Policy Address, four major carbon reduction strategies have been announced, namely “net zero power generation”, “energy efficient green buildings”, “green transport” and “waste reduction for all”, with a view to achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
At the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs held last Tuesday, the Environment Bureau said it would release the “Hong Kong Climate Action Blueprint 2050”, detailing the strategies and targets, which I strongly support. However, it should be noted that while we have strategies and targets, we should also pay attention to the implementation details, otherwise it will be difficult to convince the public to participate together.
Environmental protection is an important task not only for Hong Kong, but also for the world. The SAR’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 seems to be a good one, but how do we implement the reduction of carbon emissions, and how do we deal with waste such as plastic, glass and electricity and brain? How to reduce or recycle waste at source? Is there a commercial and technological element to all of this? What exactly is the specific innovative thinking? The Government should explain them all clearly, not only by providing concrete blueprints, but also by providing money, technology, resources, pooling wisdom and collaborative teams, as well as publicity, etc. All these should be done in order to promote acceptance by stakeholders, and more people’s understanding and participation.
To achieve the environmental objectives, the author suggests that the government should play three roles: firstly, policy and implementation driver. Although the Government is the maker of environmental policies, it is also the promoter and implementer of the implementation work, as well as cooperating with the Innovation and Technology Bureau. In the Policy Address, it is proposed that the Innovation and Technology Bureau will be re-established as the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau to promote the re-industrialisation of Hong Kong. The Government has also earmarked 250 hectares of land for the development of innovation and technology, and environmental protection is an area where industry can also be an area of innovation and technology, so it is only appropriate to promote the modernisation and environmental protection of existing industries.
Secondly, it is a facilitator of partnerships. The government alone cannot achieve its environmental goals, so it must find help. The government should involve universities to improve the level of industrial research, the legal profession to improve the legitimacy of the production process, and other intermediary services to improve economic efficiency and industrialisation. Thirdly, game monitoring and benefit allocators. In the process of selecting and aggregating the various intermediary services, ensure the level of professionalism and commitment to performance of the participants and that the money is spent wisely. Some intermediaries or environmental groups shout a lot of slogans but really only care about extracting money in the middle. The government must ensure that the participants can play a role and do something, and that the benefits are fairly distributed.
In the author’s view, when it comes to public policy, the government is the policy maker, but also the implementer, the financier and the technical guide. Environmental protection is both a business and a public good, and the government can move in the direction of common prosperity in the distribution of benefits.
Author: Ho Kwan-yiu (Member of the Legislative Council, Hong Kong)