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CE's speech in delivering "The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address" to LegCo (8)
A Liveable Hong Kong

District Environment

108. The District Matters Co-ordination Task Force, led by the Deputy Chief Secretary for Administration, has tackled more than 600 hygiene blackspots and stepped up routine cleansing efforts in some 4 000 locations across the city since mid-August. For the next step, we will:

(i) establish the standard mode of operation, through rationalising the responsibilities among departments and relevant workflow, for implementation in various districts to handle different environmental hygiene issues in an effective manner;

(ii) conduct a comprehensive review on the existing statutory powers and penalties regarding environmental hygiene. The first stage is to consult the LegCo this year on the proposal to increase the existing fixed penalty level of $1,500 for offences such as littering and shopfront extension. Other proposed legislative amendments will be put forth in mid-2023; and

(iii) liven up public space and improve streetscapes, including landscaping, beautifying road signs and upgrading street furniture.

109. To ameliorate the near-shore odour problems of Victoria Harbour, we will regularly monitor odour levels at stormwater drain outlets and rectify misconnections of sewer pipes. For the identified outfalls emanating stench in specific districts, we aim to reduce the amount of sewage discharged by half before end-2024.

Striving towards Carbon Neutrality

110. To reduce the total carbon emissions by 50% before 2035 (from the 2005 level) in order to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality before 2050, it is imperative that we step up decarbonisation efforts. We will:

(i) conserve energy – Over 60% of our carbon emissions is attributable to generating electricity for buildings. Our goal is to improve the overall energy performance of government buildings and infrastructure by more than 6% by 2024-25. We will accelerate the incorporation of district cooling systems in NDAs (including the Northern Metropolis) to reduce energy consumption. We are preparing legislative amendments to expand the scope of the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme to include more household appliances. By doing so, the total residential energy consumption of household appliances accounted for under the scheme will increase from 50% to about 80%;

(ii) promote green transport – The Government will cease new registration of fuel-propelled and hybrid private cars in 2035 or earlier. In the coming three years, an additional 7 000 parking spaces with electric vehicle chargers will be provided in government premises. To expedite low-carbon transformation in the transport sector, we will conduct trials of new generation electric taxis, as well as hydrogen fuel cell electric double-deckers and heavy vehicles next year. Moreover, we aim to complete two tasks by 2025, which include announcing a roadmap for the promotion of electric public transport and commercial vehicles; and formulating the long-term strategies for the application of hydrogen energy in road transport. We will also introduce about 700 electric buses and 3 000 electric taxis by end-2027; and

(iii) promote waste reduction in the community – To achieve the goal of Zero Landfill by 2035, we will strive to engage the  entire community in waste reduction and waste separation for recycling. In addition, we will expedite the development of modern waste-to-energy (WtE) incinerators. Apart from actively preparing for the implementation of municipal solid waste charging next year at the earliest, we will launch a host of new initiatives. First, we will introduce a bill into the LegCo early next year to regulate disposable plastic tableware and other plastic products. Second, we will explore legislation requiring major housing estates and single-block buildings with a relatively large number of flats to collect separated recyclables and pass them to recyclers for processing. Third, we will build the first modern WtE incinerator near Shek Kwu Chau at full speed and plan the development of the second one in Tsang Tsui, Tuen Mun. We will also study developing more similar advanced facilities in the Northern Metropolis. Last, we will launch a trial scheme on food waste collection in PRH within this year.

111. The Council for Sustainable Development will be re-organised, becoming the new Council for Carbon Neutrality and Sustainable Development to offer advice on decarbonisation strategies.

112. To strengthen collaboration among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in combating climate change as well as joint prevention and control of air pollution in the GBA, the Government is preparing to set up a supersite for GBA air quality laboratory and meteorology monitoring in Hong Kong to provide regional air pollution and meteorological monitoring and forecasting services.

Mobility with Convenience

113. We will continue to take forward smart mobility initiatives by applying advanced technologies in our traffic and transport systems. These include improving the Traffic Data Analytics System and exploring the feasibility of introducing smart  motorways. We will complete a territory-wide Travel Characteristics Survey under the Traffic and Transport Strategy Study next year, and take forward various pilot schemes such as the trial of autonomous vehicles within 2024. Our target is to promulgate a Transport Strategy Blueprint in 2025, with a view to establishing a reliable, safe, smart, environmentally friendly and highly efficient transport system.

114. The Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme has been well received by the public. I hereby announce that the special temporary measures under the scheme will be further extended for another six months. From 1 November 2022 to 30 April 2023, the Government will continue to provide commuters with a subsidy amounting to one-third of their monthly public transport expenses in excess of $200, subject to a maximum of $500.
VII. Hong Kong will Prosper Only When its Young People Thrive

115. Young people are Hong Kong's future. "Hong Kong will prosper only when its young people thrive". The Government attaches great importance to education and youth development. We have to create opportunities for our children to develop and flourish, as well as nurture a new generation of young people with an affection for our country and for Hong Kong and equipped with global perspectives, and who would contribute to the country and the city.

Strengthen Our Education System

116. Hong Kong has sound education infrastructure, world-renowned universities and outstanding research talents. The quality of our teaching and learning has ranked among the top in various international comparative studies. Building on this solid foundation, we will strengthen our education system on three fronts: unleashing the potential of students, improving the effectiveness of teaching and learning, and creating strong impetus for growth. The key strategies are as follows:

(i) step up efforts to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) education at primary and secondary levels;

(ii) support post-secondary education and build a strong talent pool;

(iii) promote vocational and professional education and training (VPET) by adopting the strategy of fostering industry-institution collaboration and diversified development, so as to nurture multi-skilled talents;

(iv) strengthen national education and nurture a new generation with an affection for the country, the city and the family;

(v) enhance management of the teaching force and promote the professional development of teachers;

(vi) rationalise the demand and supply of primary and secondary school places in a pragmatic manner and with priority consideration given to the interests of students and quality of education; and

(vii) support early childhood education and special education.

STEAM Education

117. We will step up the promotion of STEAM education "for all", "for fun" and "for diversity" in primary and secondary schools, building a solid foundation for students in support of our direction of promoting I&T development in Hong Kong. We will:

(i) promote learning "for all" – More learning elements of I&T will be incorporated in the curriculum, with the aim of at least 75% of publicly-funded schools implementing enriched coding education at the upper primary level and introducing I&T elements such as Artificial Intelligence in the junior secondary curriculum by the 2024/25 school year;

(ii) strengthen leadership and  co-ordination –  Starting from the current school year, all publicly-funded primary and secondary schools are required to designate co-ordinators to holistically plan STEAM education within and beyond the classroom, and starting from the next school year, to organise or arrange students to participate in quality STEAM activities every year; and

(iii) enhance professional training – At least 75% of the publicly-funded primary and secondary schools should arrange their teachers to undergo professional training on STEAM within two school years.

Post-secondary Education

118. The Government staunchly encourages the University Grants Committee (UGC)‑funded universities to enhance the quality of programmes for building a strong pool of talents. In the coming five years, our target is that 35% of their students will be studying STEAM subjects and 60% will be studying subjects relevant to Hong Kong's development into the "eight centres" in the 14th Five-Year Plan.

119. We will gradually increase the number of UGC-funded research postgraduate (RPg) places by about 1 600, from some 5 600 at present to 7 200 in the 2024/25 academic year. This, together with the gradual uplift of the over-enrolment ceiling of RPg places from 70% to 100% from last year onward, will increase the number of RPg places by more than 50%.

120. To attract more outstanding students along the Belt and Road to pursue their studies or career in Hong Kong, we will collaborate with institutions to promote the Belt and Road Scholarship to countries outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The subsidy levels of the Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme will also be increased starting from the current academic year, with the introduction of a new subsidy item for travelling expenses, etc.

121. Moreover, to ease the financial burden of loan repayers under the student financial assistance schemes for local post-secondary students, the Government will extend the current interest-free deferral of loan repayment for another year until 31 March 2025.

Vocational and Professional Education and Training

122. We will, through the strategy of fostering industry-institution collaboration and diversified development, promote VPET as a pathway parallel to conventional academic education, providing diversified learning and employment opportunities for young people. We will:

(i) expand the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors – To meet the keen manpower demand of designated industries (e.g. nursing and information technology), the respective numbers of subsidised places for self-financing higher diploma programmes and undergraduate programmes will be increased in phases by 1 000 and 2 000 per cohort respectively starting from the next academic year, increasing the total number of places from the existing 5 000 to 8 000. Top-up degree programmes will be covered for the first time and priority will be accorded to programmes of applied nature that involve industry-institution collaboration;

(ii) explore the introduction of more applied degree programmes – The first batch of programmes under the Pilot Project on the Development of Applied Degree Programmes have been launched in the current academic year, covering four disciplines: nursing; testing and certification; horticulture, arboriculture and landscape management; and gerontology. We are actively exploring the introduction of more applied degree programmes;

(iii) expedite the development of Vocational Qualifications Pathway (VQP) – We will increase the number of industries adopting the VQP under the Qualifications Framework from 6 to at least 18 in the next five years;

(iv) launch the Diploma of Applied Education (DAE) Programme – The DAE Programme will be launched on a regular basis starting from the next academic year, incorporating substantial VPET elements and providing a pathway for Secondary Six school leavers as well as adult learners to obtain a formal qualification;

(v) enrich applied learning and workplace experience of secondary students – We will enhance the senior secondary applied learning courses by offering more course options and support, and launch the Business-School Partnership Programme 2.0 with more business partners covering more industries; and

(vi) enhance VPET promotion – We will organise an array of activities to enhance the public's positive understanding of VPET and promote its professional image, including supporting the Vocational Training Council to organise the "Future Skills Community Event" this December to make VPET an attractive progression pathway.

(To be continued.)
Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Issued at HKT 13:22
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