Go Green: Business group sketches low carbon future for community

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Workshops and trainings targeting major carbon-emitting sectors will be first organised to meet a 2°C target.

Photo: From left – Maya De Souza, Senior Manager of Policy Research, Business Environment Council; Eric Chong, Chairman, Business Environment Council Climate Change Business Forum Advisory Group; and Adam Koo, CEO, Business Environment Council. (Credit: BEC)

The Business Environment Council (BEC) held a launch for their recently-published report, entitled “Low Carbon Hong Kong: Supporting Business to Set Targets” on 8 May. The purpose of this report is to emphasise to Hong Kong’s business community the importance of adopting carbon emission reduction targets that align with the goal of a maximum temperature rise of 2°C.

BEC is an independent organisation established by the business sector to promote environmental excellence among its members comprising of both major corporations and SMEs. Its latest report showcases the necessary changes that should be enforced across Hong Kong’s key sectors to keep carbon emissions successfully within this target. Other implementing measures that were recently enforced include HKSAR Government’s commitment in January 2017 to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy from its 2005 levels by 65-70% by 2030.

During a small group interview, BEC’s Senior Manager of Policy Research Maya de Souza discussed the significance of the G20 Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force Recommendations report: “It started off really with Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, saying that climate change is not an environmental issue; it’s a risk to the whole financial system in effect, because […] people are not quantifying and taking into account in their investment or insurance decisions.” She also noted its relevance to the BEC report, stating that setting targets is a crucial part of determining a strategy for businesses, as they must know where they are trying to get to in order to execute any sort of effective change.

In March 2017, BEC held a cross-sectoral workshop with nearly 30 participants from different industries. This workshop brought about the challenges and opportunities that confront these climate change efforts. Major challenges include the lack of a “compliance” driver, as legal incentives are significant drivers for most sustainability activities in Hong Kong. Other challenges include the technical complexity of setting targets, lack of clarity in terms of company responsibilities, and absence of a shared view within companies on carbon reduction action.

Despite the challenges, BEC acknowledges that many business leaders are attentive and open to the benefit and importance of carbon reduction within their businesses. Eric Chong, Chairman of the BEC Climate Change Business Forum Advisory Group, explained the importance of emphasising on inester alignment with the right language. As highlighted in the report, it is in the businesses’ own commercial interest to act in line with the carbon reduction targets. Reducing carbon emissions has been proven to cut down on costs, with substantial savings that can be made in the short term.

Regarding effective methodologies that businesses can adopt for settling long-term targets, BEC suggests the use of the Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach (SDA). This approach sets trajectories for a number of Hong Kong’s high carbon-producing sectors, aiming to achieve the deepest cuts in production in the most effective way. It encourages differing sectors in Hong Kong to work together to try and reduce their carbon emissions. De Souza also elaborated on next steps, which bring to focus establishing sectoral level working groups including sectors such as construction, property, and Hong Kong transport. She stated that this comprises of “bringing people together to problem-solve, to work together to take on this challenging task of setting targets.”

The council is approaching stakeholders, particularly those from the business community, on the initiative and plans to come up with more concrete strategies by the end of this year. Sectoral workshops and trainings to enable companies to meet the targets will follow.

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Jasmine Lee

Jasmine Lee is a Harbour Times intern. She is a Political Science major with a minor concentration in Communications. She has always been a passionate writer, focusing her articles on the topic of human rights and other socio-political issues all over the globe.