Speech by SEN at opening ceremony of 12th Eco Expo Asia (English only) (with photos)
Margaret (Executive Director, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Ms Margaret Fong), Stephan (Member of the Extended Board of Management, Messe Frankfurt GmbH, Mr Stephan Buurma), Director-General Gao (Director-General of the Department of Energy Conservation and Resources Utilization of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Mr Gao Yunhu), Director-General Ren (Deputy Director-General of the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection of the National Development and Reform Commission, Mr Ren Xianguang), Director-General Wang (Deputy Director-General of the Department of Science, Technology and Standards of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Mr Wang Kaiyu), ladies and gentlemen,
I am most delighted to join you this morning for the opening of the 12th Eco Expo Asia. This year, the Environment Bureau is again honoured to co-organise this unique and premium environmental trade event. I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all, especially those friends who have travelled a long way to join us. I am also particularly grateful for the continuous support from the Mainland authorities at central, provincial and municipal levels in sending more than 160 delegates from the Mainland of China to attend the Eco Expo.
Eco Expo Asia 2017 is one of the major events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The theme of Eco Expo Asia this year is "Innovative Solutions for Greener Cities". It underscores the important partnership between the business sector and policy makers in the search for solutions to the sustainable development of greener cities.
Like many other cities and economies, climate change is a key challenge that we are facing in making Hong Kong a greener city. With the positive outcome of the Paris Agreement, Hong Kong must ready itself for making greater efforts in combating climate change. We have to act fast and strive for the common goal of holding the increase in the global temperature rise to not more than two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era as pledged under the Paris Agreement.
The Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) Government attaches great importance to combating climate change. Our target is to reduce the carbon intensity by 65 to 70 per cent by 2030, using 2005 as the base. This is equal to an absolute reduction of about 26 to 36 per cent of Hong Kong's carbon emissions, resulting in per capita emissions reduction from about 6 tonnes to 3.3 to 3.8 tonnes by 2030. The adoption of such an ambitious target not only demonstrates our commitment to become a low-carbon city, but also reinforces our determination to face up to the challenge of combating climate change. In order to achieve this target, we have formulated a multi-pronged strategy covering a range of mitigation, adaptation and resilience measures. A Steering Committee on Climate Change chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration - our top official under our Chief Executive - has been established since April 2016 to steer and co-ordinate the climate actions of various bureaux and departments to ensure the best outcome. The fact that the secretaries of all our policy and resource bureaux, 13 in total, have been appointed as members of this Steering Committee is a clear evidence to demonstrate the importance our Government has accorded to addressing climate change. However, government efforts alone would not be enough. To successfully counter the adverse effect of climate change requires action from every one of us in the community. The Government, businesses and individual citizens of the global village all have a significant role to play. We look forward to joining hands with you all to identify possible environmental technologies and products, like those you will see at the Expo, to support the shift towards a low-carbon economy.
Waste management is another major challenge for a green city. We have released a waste management policy blueprint, i.e. the "Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022" in 2013, setting out our strategy to reduce the municipal solid waste disposal. As part of that strategy, we commissioned a new sludge treatment facility, the T.PARK, one of the largest of its kind in the world, in 2016. We will soon commission our waste electrical and electronic equipment treatment and recycling facility, named WEEE Park, and around early 2018 our first organic resources recovery centre, O-Park, while the construction contract for the second organic resources recovery centre is being tendered right now. We will announce within the next couple of months the outcome of the tender exercise for our first large-scale integrated waste treatment facility, which is designed to handle 3 000 tonnes of municipal solid waste each day, or roughly one third of such waste being dumped in our landfills. We are also going to implement two separate producer responsibility schemes for glass beverage bottles and e-waste - waste electrical and electronic equipment - in phases within the next two years. Meanwhile, we are earnestly making our final preparation to introduce a bill on municipal solid waste charging into the legislature before the end of this year to give additional impetus to our community to reduce waste. To give support to our recycling industry, we have already put in place a two-hectare Eco Park and also set up a US$128 million Recycling Fund to support the sustainable development of the recycling industry, which is a critical component in our waste management system.
Our waste reduction and treatment efforts also provide ample business opportunities for the environmental industry. I understand that the waste management and recycling zone continues to be one of the largest exhibition zones in this year's Expo, with more than 25 companies and organisations to showcase the latest waste management practices and technologies around the world. I believe that the industry will find these cutting edge waste management technologies useful. Such technologies will no doubt provide impetus to our environmental industry for enhancing their waste management and treatment work in Hong Kong.
Apart from the above, air quality management is also of key importance. To improve roadside air quality, we have launched an incentive-cum-regulatory scheme to phase out some 82 000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles and set aside US$1.4 million as ex-gratia allowance to assist the affected vehicle owners. We have also set up a US$38 million Pilot Green Transport Fund to encourage the transport sector to test out green and low-carbon transport technologies.
We have not lost sight of ferries, bearing in mind Hong Kong’s position as one of top 10 container ports in the world, with beautiful Victoria Harbour and many outlying islands. To promote a green environment in Hong Kong, we for the first time have an exhibition on green ferries in the Expo. There will be local and international experts sharing their experience and technologies on green ferries at the Green Transportation Forum, including the introduction of carbon fibre vessels. I trust you will find the Forum a valuable platform for experts to exchange views and experience in the promotion of green ferries, and will give further impetus to the development of green ferries in Hong Kong and in the wider Asia Pacific region.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area Development announced by the Central People's Government early this year is a key pillar of the Belt and Road Initiative. The Bay Area will serve as the gateway between China and countries along the Belt and Road. With a view to achieving a quality living circle and building a green environment for cities concerned, the Bay Area Development continues to put high level attention on environmental protection. Supporting this policy direction, the Expo provides a very good strategic platform to facilitate local and international environmental companies in entering the Mainland's fast-growing environmental market. The Expo also brings together a world of exhibitors and buyers to network and do business here. We will continue to encourage Hong Kong's environmental industry to seize these valuable opportunities by making full use of the liberalisation measures under the Mainland and Hong Kong CEPA, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
Lastly, in addition to this, ASEAN plays an important role in the Belt and Road Initiative in view of its strategic location on the Belt and Road routes. With the Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA, the Free Trade Agreement, to be formally signed next month, in November this year, massive infrastructure development would be expected in the region and environmental protection is again of key importance. The Expo this year has introduced a new session in the Eco Asia Conference on "China's Co-operation Green Blue Print with ASEAN Countries" to help participants better understand the potential new business opportunities. I am sure you will not miss it. You will find this session valuable.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you again for coming today. I hope you will find the Expo and the three-day Eco Asia Conference both useful and inspiring, and for friends who come from abroad and across the boundary, I hope you all enjoy your stay in Hong Kong. Have a beautiful day.
Ends/Thursday, October 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:33
Issued at HKT 17:33