SFST's speech at Asia Summit on Green Economy (English only)

     Following is the video keynote speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, at the Asia Summit on Green Economy today (May 12):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good morning. It is my pleasure to speak with you at the Asia Summit on Green Economy hosted by Invest Hong Kong, the Business Environment Council and Arup today. I would like to take the opportunity to share with you the role of Hong Kong as the leading green financial hub connecting the Mainland and global markets.
     We are all aware that promoting green economy for sustainable development is a subject of global concern. In the 14th Five-Year Plan, the Central People's Government has outlined its goals to promote comprehensive green transformation of economic and social growth, and its effort to reach the carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Our goals in Hong Kong are to attain a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2035 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
     To attain our goal and accelerate the development of Hong Kong into an international centre for green technology and finance, the Financial Secretary announced in the 2023-24 Budget that the Government will proceed in five directions, namely (a) building a green technology ecosystem; (b) green finance application and innovation; (c) green certification and alignment with international standards; (d) training for talents; and (e) enhancing the exchange and co-operation with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and international markets.
     Hong Kong, a vibrant and resilient international financial centre, is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in green finance. Over the years, with local, Mainland and overseas issuers using our sustainable finance platform, the amount of green and sustainable debt arranged and issued in Hong Kong has been increasing steadily. The total green and sustainable debt (including both bonds and loans) issued in Hong Kong increased by over 40 per cent from 2021 to reach US$80.5 billion in 2022, among which the volume of green and sustainable bonds arranged in Hong Kong accounted for one-third of the Asian market.
     Since 2019, we have successfully issued Government green bonds under the Government Green Bond Programme totalling close to US$16 billion equivalent. This includes the largest ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) bond issuance in Asia totalling US$5.75 billion equivalent we issued in January, and the world's first government tokenised green bond totaling HK$800 million in February this year. These issuances set an important new benchmark for potential issuers in Hong Kong and the region, and enriched the green and sustainable finance ecosystem.
     To promote the adoption of green financing by enterprises, as of end-March this year, grants have been approved for over 220 related debt instruments issued in Hong Kong since the launch of the Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme in 2021, involving a total underlying debt issuance of over HK$560 billion.
     Furthermore, the launch of Core Climate by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last October for the trading of international voluntary carbon credits signifies a critical step forward in the development of a carbon marketplace in Hong Kong.
     Following the publication of the Common Ground Taxonomy report by the International Platform on Sustainable Finance, the Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group will, with the aim of aligning with the Common Ground Taxonomy, work towards proposing the structure and core elements of the local green classification framework for consultation, which shall facilitate easy navigation among the Common Ground Taxonomy, the Mainland's taxonomy and the EU's taxonomy.
     Last month, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange also published a consultation paper to seek market feedback on proposals to enhance climate-related disclosures under the ESG framework, which proposed to mandate all issuers to make climate-related disclosures in their ESG reports, and introduce new climate-related disclosures aligned with the International Sustainability Standards Board. Acknowledging the readiness of the issuers and their concerns, HKEX (Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited) proposed interim provisions for certain disclosures for the first two reporting years following the effective date of January 1, 2024.
     To drive innovation and expertise in green and sustainable finance, we invest in capacity building and education. The Government launched in December 2022 a three-year Pilot Green and Sustainable Finance Capacity Building Support Scheme with a total provision of HK$200 million for application by market practitioners and related professionals as well as students and graduates of relevant disciplines. After completing eligible programmes or accomplishing relevant qualifications, applicants can apply for a subsidy of up to HK$10,000.
     Ladies and gentlemen, the Government will continue to accelerate the development of Hong Kong into an international centre for green and sustainable finance, contributing to the attainment of "3060 Dual Carbon Targets" of our country, and promoting green transformation of our economy. We will work closely with the industry and relevant stakeholders to achieve our goal. As announced in the 2023-24 Budget, the Financial Secretary will set up a Green Technology and Finance Development Committee, inviting industry representatives to assist in the formulation of an action agenda. I invite you all to join us on this journey, as we strive to create a greener and brighter world for our generations. I wish you all a rewarding forum today. Thank you.

Ends/Friday, May 12, 2023
Issued at HKT 10:00