Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 140, Climate Change – Forty years champion for the environment

Climate Change

CA has the longest history of being involved with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (dating back to 1992 Rio), Conference of the Partners, COP2 (Geneva), COP3 (Kyoto), COP6 (Hague) and WSSD (Jo’burg).

In advocacy, CA submitted a paper to the Environmental Panel, Legislative Council in May 2007, summarizing CA’s view and recommendations on Hong Kong’s strategy to cope with climate change.

CA reckons that Hong Kong does not need to do anything if we simply follow the Kyoto Protocol (reduce GHG emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012). But Hong Kong should not shun its responsibility as a cosmopolitan city which consumed huge amounts of resources and energy from over the world to keep our lives going as well as economy growing. Indeed, Hong Kong should press ahead the following:

Setting local GHG emissions target

In fact, we have no reason to feel complacent: both our energy consumption and GHG emissions have been on the rise since 2000. Hong Kong should shoulder its responsibility to keep GHG emission to a minimum and adopt a “Kyoto-plus” policy. Since the Hong Kong SAR Administration and the Guangdong Provincial Government agreed to reduce four major pollutants by 2010, using 1997 as the base year, 1997 could also be used as the base year for GHG emissions reduction.

Implement a CO2 Emission Trading Scheme

The latest IPCC report pointed out that “integrating air pollution abatement and climate change mitigation policies offers potentially large cost reductions compared to treating those policies in isolation.” Implementation of measures to reduce Green House Gas emissions will also reduce that of other air pollutants such as SO2, NOx and RSP, but not the other way round. As such, CA suggested including CO2 emission in the Emission Trading Pilot Scheme for Thermal Power Plants in the Pearl River Delta Region.

It should be note that SO2, though an air pollutant, contributes to a net cooling effect in the form of aerosol. Of course it is important to cut down SO2 emission in the region, but if there is no provision to cap CO2 at the same time, the problem of local warming will only exacerbate, as SO2 promote cloud formation which reflects heat, and because of its comparatively short lifetimes, the concentration in the atmosphere decreases much faster than that of CO2.

Proactive Compensation Scheme-Zero Damage to the Environment

Avoidance of habitat damage and environmental degradation should be the guiding principle when planning infrastructure. But when it is not feasible, damage to the environment should be kept to minimum, preferably zero. Although the present Environmental Impact Assessment process includes evaluation of gaseous emission, it pertains more to air quality impact than GHG emissions. As large scale transport infrastructure such as highways and the logistic park will general large amount of GHG, we suggest that a proactive compensation scheme such as tree planting should be implemented to offset the emissions.

Auditing Offset Programs

As “carbon offset” is becoming a lucrative business in many places, it is a matter of time when it will reach Hong Kong. We suggest that all offset programs must be duly audited by an independent and authorized agent.

Response Strategy

Besides developing mitigation policies to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, the Administration should also formulate a response strategy to prevent or reduce the degree of the adverse effect of climate change.

Disaster Management

It is expected that climate change and global warming will lead to more unstable and even chaotic climate. The rising sea level, higher possibility of sea surge, flooding and the potential of the visit of super-typhoon might increase the risk of natural disasters.

Preparation and coordination of related departments with the government during the disaster moment ought to be improved to cope with the warming world.

Higher Energy Demand and Heat Stress

Warmer temperatures and higher humidity would result in greater use of air-conditioning and thus higher energy demand. An increase of the ambient temperature by 1oC would the electricity consumption by 9.02%, 3.13% and 2.64% in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors respectively. Moreover, higher annual temperatures could lead to an increased incidence and severity of warm temperature extremes, leading to increased occurrences of heat stress and discomfort, particularly among the elderly, the sick and those without access to air-conditioning.

Urban planning might take the issue of climate change into consideration. By increasing amount of greenery, lowering urban density, enhancing air ventilation in urban area, and promoting more efficient management of end-use of electricity would help to minimize the demand of energy.

In terms of campaigns, CA has pioneered “dress down campaign” which the government has adopted; and we also advocated a car-free day in September 2007. We did a simple attitude survey in May 2007. There were 588 respondents. 98.3% of the respondents agreed that climate change is a serious environmental problem; 85.7% reckoned that the government has not done enough to tackle climate change; 72.62% said that they would be willing to pay more electricity bill to reduce CO2 emissions and 84.52% would be willing to pay to plant trees in order to offset the CO2 emissions. On 7 July 2007, CA held a low carbon symposium. Private sectors, NGOs and academics were invited to discuss the climate change issues and our strategy to alleviate this world problem in the spirit of shared responsibility. The report of this 777 low carbon symposium was then submitted to the Chief Executive in November 2007. CA urged the CE to take actions including a) to adopt a carbon-neutral policy for all infrastructure development; b) to include CO2 in the emission trading scheme in Pearl River Delta and c) to revitalize all natural river streams and carry out an intensive tree planting programme to alleviate the heat-island effects that we are facing.

CA has a public position of “HK as a low-carbon city”, with “low-carbon lifestyle”. CA itself announced that we would be a carbon-neutral organization (though we haven’t got a system to audit for that)

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August 30, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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