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Speech by Secretary for Environment at PGBC Zero Carbon Charter Launching Ceremony (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Professional Green Building Council (PGBC) Zero Carbon Charter Launching Ceremony today (October 6):

Mr Chu, Prof Lau, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning in launching the Zero Carbon Charter. The fact that we have so many distinguished guests and participants among us is testimony to the importance we all place on climate change and its impact on us and our future generations.

     This is also a partner event for the Engagement Process on Better Air Quality being carried out by the Council for Sustainable Development. On behalf of the Council, I would like to express my gratitude to the Professional Green Building Council for its efforts in organising today¡¦s event as well as helping us collect responses from stakeholders.

     Climate change has been drawing animated discussions amongst scientists, academics, environmentalists and many other quarters in the community. The international community has also attached high priority to the subject. At the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting  in Sydney last month, climate change topped the leaders' agenda. All the APEC leaders vowed to strengthen co-operation to combat climate change and work towards reducing the energy intensity of the APEC region by at least 25% by 2030.

     Fighting climate change needs to cover a lot of ground. It will require actions on all fronts. Investing in energy efficiency, as rightly recognised by the APEC leaders, is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

     Buildings - including homes, offices and public buildings ¡V account for a large portion of the energy we use and the greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere. According to one of the reports published by the United Nations' Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), buildings constitute more than 30% of global emissions and are the second largest sector of greenhouse gas emissions following industries.

     Accelerating the development and application of technologies that reduce the environmental impact of our buildings is crucial to our economic future and environmental sustainability.  Buildings that are more energy efficient and environmentally responsible should be the cornerstone of our response to the challenge of climate change.

     Planners, architects, engineers and surveyors share the same basic objective of promoting an attractive, functional and efficiently built environment. However, in our quest for beauty, the real test should no longer be confined to how to make the physical artifacts look beautiful.  Nor should functionality and efficiency be solely defined as maximisation of the permitted plot ratio or how best the buildings meet the mundane requirements of the owners or end users. These considerations are without doubt important. But the needs and aspirations of the community require all the key professional players involved in the entire construction process, from initial planning to final operation, to do more. They should take a leadership role in making our buildings "greener" and more energy efficient.

     As professionals in the development sector, you are well positioned to inspire and lead the society in building a sustainable future. You can help by pushing the boundaries of what is achievable in designing, constructing and operating our buildings in a more energy efficient way. Buildings can be designed to maximise the use of natural lighting and ventilation, incorporate energy efficient features like water-cooled air conditioning system, individually controlled or automatic lighting and air conditioning, and on-site renewable energy generators.  Greening the rooftops or even the walls of buildings will be good not only from an aesthetical point of view. It has the added advantage of enhancing insulation and mitigating the heat island effects of cities.

     Admittedly, achieving zero carbon emission from our buildings remains a long-term goal.  This daunting task of making cities and buildings sustainable can be achieved only through a common vision. By bringing together professionals involved in every key aspect in the making of our modern buildings, the Zero Carbon Charter helps forge such a common vision. The Charter galvanises the foresight and commitment of our professional community in promoting the integration of energy smart strategies in the planning, design, construction and operation of our built environment. It also offers a unique opportunity to move forward in the evolution of design guidelines and best practices that have the potential to make Hong Kong a world leader in sustainable building practices.  

     On the part of Government, we are committed to doing what needs to be done to improve the air we breathe and fight climate change. Promoting energy efficient building has always been at the heart of our environment policies.

     Actions alone on the part of the professionals and Government are not adequate to combat climate change. All members of the community have to face up to their responsibilities. Every one of us should, and can, contribute as we migrate from a carbon-dependent to low carbon society. Small things like twisting the air conditioning knob a few degrees higher during summer months, replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient ones, making smarter consumer choice by buying household appliances with good energy efficiency rating, turning off TVs and computers when they are not in use, if done by all of us, are going to add up.  The fact is these are small but important steps. Together they could help cut down our carbon footprint significantly.

     Let me again congratulate the Professional Green Building Council for spearheading this excellent initiative. I hope this is real action that will make a real difference in the fight against climate change. With this event today, we are witnesses to our professionals' commitment to playing a key role to tackle climate change. I look forward to travelling with you on the journey to a zero carbon building environment. Thank you.

Ends/Saturday, October 6, 2007
Issued at HKT 12:00


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