Speech by DCS at "EU and Hong Kong: The Green Way Forward" forum (English only) (with photo)

    Following is the speech by the Deptuy Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Cheuk Wing-hing, at the "EU and Hong Kong: The Green Way Forward" forum today (March 16): 

Mr Gnocchi (Head of the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao, Mr Thomas Gnocchi), Mr Amate (Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Mr Inãki Amate), ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. Thank you for having me. The forum today, a welcoming sequel to the inaugural Green Way Forum held 18 months ago to the day, is clear testimony that, as the impact of climate change becomes more and more apparent, constructive engagements between governments and industries are more important than ever.  

     The Chief Executive, who is in Beijing calling on different national ministries, regrets that he could not personally join you today. But rest assured that his views on this critical issue, i.e. the Green Way Forward, will be fully reflected in my address. 

     This well-attended gathering exemplifies the value that the EU and Hong Kong place on working together to combat climate change and achieve carbon neutrality. 

     In the next few minutes, allow me to share with you some thoughts on how we can work together to support our respective green agendas.  

     In 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government published the Hong Kong Climate Action Plan 2050. It sets out the strategies for achieving carbon neutrality before 2050, and reducing before 2035 the total carbon emissions by 50 per cent from the level in 2005. 

     At the beginning of the year, we set up a new Office of Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality. Its mission is to strengthen co-ordination and promote deep decarbonisation in such areas as electricity generation, transport and waste. 

     In this endeavour, we are committed to working with regional and international partners to help us achieve carbon neutrality. That of course includes EU companies and institutions. 

     It is imperative that Hong Kong respond to our electricity generation, given that it accounts for about two-thirds of Hong Kong's total emissions. To achieve "net-zero electricity generation", we will for sure use more conventional renewable energy such as solar energy. We will also explore hydrogen and other new zero-carbon energy prospects to overcome our geographic constraints in developing large-scale, renewable-energy facilities. 

     I know that EU nations are ramping up investment in zero-carbon energy. That, I'm confident, will present considerable opportunities for co-operation in the decarbonisation of Hong Kong's electricity sector.

     As for the transport sector, which accounts for about 20 per cent of our carbon emissions, Hong Kong has made significant strides in promoting electric vehicles. 

     Last year, more than half of the newly registered private vehicles in Hong Kong were electric. Later this year, we will also begin the testing of hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses and heavy vehicles. 

     And as we do, as we continue to expand the market for electric vehicles and other new energy vehicles, we welcome the participation of market players from the EU.

     Waste emissions contribute about 9 per cent of our total emissions. To slash those emissions, we will begin municipal solid-waste charging by the end of this year. Yesterday, we introduced a bill into our legislative to regulate the sale and provision of certain disposable plastic tableware and single-use plastic products by early next year.  

     In these regards, similar EU measures have been helpful reference for us. And we look forward to further exchanges.

     Development of waste-to-energy facilities, or WtE, is another important decarbonisation strategy. As the Chief Executive unveiled in his 2022 Policy Address last October, Hong Kong is building our first WtE near Shek Kwu Chau, with a second one under planning in Tuen Mun. And we are studying the development of modern WtE incinerators for the Northern Metropolis.  

     In these, and other decarbonisation initiatives, we welcome EU co-operation on knowledge exchange. 

     I have just mentioned the Northern Metropolis. It will rise as a major new growth engine for Hong Kong. I am pleased to say that we will strive to realise it as a carbon neutral community, from beginning to end. 

     Other measures under consideration include adopting green and sustainable design in spatial layout and buildings, enhancing connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists and advancing the installation of charging networks for electrical vehicles.

     Over the next 15 to 20 years, the Hong Kong Government plans to allocate HK$240 billion, or 29 billion euros, to combat climate change. 

     On the financial side, Hong Kong's emergence as a green finance hub is also central to our ambitions. 

     This is why last October, the HKEX launched the initiative of Core Climate, an international carbon marketplace. Core Climate provides effective and transparent trading of voluntary carbon credits and instruments across Asia, Europe and beyond, connecting capital with climate-related products and opportunities. The HKEX is also pursuing carbon market co-operation with financial institutions in Guangzhou and elsewhere. 

     What I just said is only to set the scene for the many new and exciting initiatives on promoting green and sustainable finance that will be addressed by the Financial Secretary in the closing session today.   

     Ladies and gentlemen, climate change is a daunting global emergency that calls for collective, collaborative and expeditious action. As President Xi Jinping has said, "When it comes to global challenges such as climate change, multilateralism is the right prescription." 

     In tackling global challenge, Hong Kong is pleased to have the EU, to have you, as partners in rising to and overcoming the challenge of climate change. 

     My thanks to the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao, and the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, for once again organising this inspiring conference.

     I look forward to more such forums and gatherings, large and small, to bringing EU governments, businesses and scientific and community leaders together, to working with Hong Kong to attain a sustainable future for our communities and the many generations to come. 

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, March 16, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:58