Environmentalists unite around decarbonised economy as solution to HK’s economic woes

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Led by Civic Exchange, environmental groups suggest policy reform for climate-related issues.

“Action on decarbonisation today will provide fresh employment and business activities that can offset damage to the economy from COVID-19 and reassert Hong Kong’s place as a city committed to building better prospects for its own people and for the world,” says HK2050isNow, an initiative led by independent public policy think tank Civic Exchange. A total of 14 NGOs made suggestions in a joint statement on solutions to climate-related issues in Hong Kong. They argue that decarbonisation is essential for Hong Kong’s sustainable prosperity.

Doing our part

Lawrence Lu, a Programme Manager of Civic Exchange, thinks that Hong Kong should play a bigger role in combating climate change.

“As an advanced economy, Hong Kong does not have huge industrial and agricultural sectors that [may find it too] difficult to reduce carbon emission. So I think [Hong Kong] should be more enterprising when setting goals on combating climate change. This is why we started HK2050isNow, an initiative advocating for net-zero emissions in Hong Kong by 2050,” Mr Lu explains.

In a 13-page letter, the groups highlighted ten main goals for possible environmental-related policy reforms in the coming LegCo year, addressing issues such as air pollution and inadequate preparations for extreme climate events.

Mr Lu notes that among all the recommendations, providing training programmes for low-carbon jobs should be one of the easier policy changes the government could make.

“When unemployment increases, the government could provide training programmes for the unemployed people to transition into working in a low-carbon job sector,” he claims.

In August, the government postponed the 2020 LegCo Election by one year due to COVID-19 concerns. When asked if the political situation in Hong Kong would affect the progress of making and enforcing climate policy reforms, Mr Lu says he is not too worried.

“In a lot of environmental-related issues, political parties from both sides have cooperated and gave suggestions to the government on improving environmental policies. I believe supporters from both sides want Hong Kong to have a better environmental future,” he remarks.

In search of a platform to promote their ideas and raise environmental awareness, Civic Exchange has organised TEDxCivic Exchange, a series of virtual gatherings discussing climate-related topics. This TEDx event is a part of COUNTDOWN, a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.

“TEDxCivic Exchange gives different stakeholders, including policymakers, experts, businesses, NGOs and university partners, an opportunity to showcase how Hong Kong can provide climate solutions. Civic Exchange has always wanted to improve Hong Kong’s environmental future by partnering with these people and organisations,” explains Fiona Lau, another Programme Manager of Civic Exchange.

TEDxCivic Exchange begins on 14 October. Policy experts from Hong Kong, Taipei, and Malaysia will discuss the possibility of an “Asian Green New Deal” and other climate policies in Asia.

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