Speech by CE at 2022 Colloquium on International Law (English only) (with video)

     â€‹Following is the video speech by the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, at the 2022 Colloquium on International Law today (December 6):
Deputy Commissioner Fang Jianming (Deputy Commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)), Dr Anthony Neoh (Chairman of the Asian Academy of International Law), Professor Huang Jin (President of the Chinese Society of International Law), Consuls General, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good afternoon. The annual Colloquium on International Law provides an excellent opportunity for us to learn from international law experts on topical issues shaping our common future. I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to the Asian Academy of International Law, the AAIL Foundation, and the Chinese Society of International Law for staging this meaningful event every year, and providing an important platform for insightful exchange on various areas of international law.
     The theme for this year's Colloquium is "The Global Climate Crisis: Finding Common Ground through International Law". Climate change affects all of us. Hong Kong, like any other city, is facing climate challenges ranging from rising temperatures to extreme weather phenomena. We all have vivid memories of the effects brought by typhoons. Last year, both the number of very hot days and the number of hot nights in Hong Kong have broken our records. All these remind us of the urgent need to take concrete steps in response to climate change.
     President Xi Jinping, in his important remarks made at the 17th G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, this November, emphasised that in tackling climate change and transitioning towards green and low-carbon development, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities must be upheld. President Xi also stressed that it is important to provide funding, technology and capacity-building support for developing countries and promote co-operation on green finance.
     Here in Hong Kong, we also strive to align with the policies and principles set forth by President Xi towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.
     To align with our country's commitment to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, the Hong Kong SAR Government has set its own targets. Hong Kong will strive towards carbon neutrality before 2050. We will also reduce the total carbon emissions by 50 per cent from the 2005 level before 2035.
     To achieve our goals, I have announced in my 2022 Policy Address a series of decarbonisation initiatives. First, we will conserve energy by improving the overall energy performance of government buildings and infrastructure by more than 6 per cent by 2024-25. Second, we will promote green transport by ceasing new registration of fuel-propelled and hybrid private cars by 2035. Third, we will promote waste reduction in the community to achieve the goal of Zero Landfill by 2035. The new Council for Carbon Neutrality and Sustainable Development will offer advice on decarbonisation strategy.
     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 Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), the Hong Kong SAR 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.
     Hong Kong has long been one of the world's leading international financial centres. We will continue to promote Hong Kong's position as a premier financing platform for governments and green enterprises in the Mainland and around the world. We are also developing Hong Kong into an international carbon market, and will support the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited to continue pursuing co-operation with financial institutions in Guangzhou in carbon market development.
     With the strong support by the Central Government, we have full confidence in Hong Kong's development of green and sustainable finance. The Outline Development Plan for GBA supports Hong Kong's development into a green finance centre in the region. More specifically, the "Opinion on Providing Financial Support for the Development of the GBA" supports GBA entities and financial institutions to make use of the Hong Kong platform for the financing and certification of their green projects.
     Last month, the Hainan Provincial Government became the first Mainland provincial government to issue offshore Renminbi local government bonds in Hong Kong. Totalling some RMB 5 billion, the bonds are all sustainability and blue bonds. Meanwhile, the Shenzhen Municipal Government issued a second round of local government bonds in Hong Kong, with RMB 5 billion worth of green and blue bonds. These encouraging developments not only demonstrate Hong Kong's status as the global offshore Renminbi business hub, but also strengthen our position as a green and sustainable financial hub in the region.
     All these exciting plans and developments go to reinforce today's underlying theme, which is that international environmental law is a vital tool in combating climate change and protecting the environment. In addition to the Paris Agreement, Hong Kong has applied a number of multilateral environmental agreements and adopted a series of laws and administrative measures as part of our commitment to environmental protection. They cover a wide range of areas such as climate change, ozone layer protection, conservation, mercury control, and conservation, to name but a few.
     Last month, at the opening ceremony of the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands held in Wuhan, China, President Xi concluded his remarks with a Chinese saying: "The journey ahead may be long and arduous, but with sustained actions, we will eventually reach our destination and embrace a brighter future".
     Hong Kong, like our motherland, will continue our efforts in contributing to the world's effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change, and in alignment with our commitment towards charting a brighter tomorrow for all.
     On that note, I thank you all for your participation and wish this Colloquium a huge success. Thank you very much.

Ends/Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:10