Speech by SEN at plenary session of World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong
Following is the speech by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, at the Plenary Session on Climate Change and Sustainable Development I of the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong this morning (June 6):
K K (Chairman of Construction Industry Council, Mr Chan Ka-kui), Conrad (Chairman of the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong Organising Committee, Mr Conrad Wong), Bay (Chairman of Hong Kong Green Building Council, Mr Bay Wong), ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. As introduced by the moderator, I was an architect focusing on SBE (sustainable built environment) in the past two to three decades, and attended many of the world SB (sustainable built) conferences in the past. So welcome all of you on behalf of the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) Government to join this World SBE Conference in Hong Kong.
Firstly, I would like to say some thank yous. Thank you Hong Kong GBC (Green Building Council) and CIC (Construction Industry Council) for organising this event in Hong Kong. In particular, since Christiana (Figueres) yesterday said thank you to Mr (Donald) Trump, I would like you to join me to say thank you to Christiana. She is the lady behind the Paris Agreement, and I welcome you to attend this first World SBE Conference right after the Paris Agreement.
Today, I would like to share with you some ideas and actions in Hong Kong, in particular in the past five years since I took up this position as minister for the environment. The picture here shows a video that we produced for Hong Kong people, using the traditional Chinese monkey king, as a kind of representation, to showcase how people can fight against climate change. In view of time, I'm not going to show you the video, but it's on our website about climate change, so I welcome you to look at it.
Some of you might have been to the previous world SB conferences. You may note that most of the world conferences in the past were held in September or October. This is the first time to organise this world conference in June. I'm not sure whether you understand the difference, it's because it is the best time for you to experience global warming in Hong Kong. Hong Kong belongs to the subtropical climate, and similar to many other cities, we're getting hotter and hotter. It's not the hottest day in Hong Kong, but you can feel that Hong Kong is facing the extreme weather in relation to climate change and getting more humid and hotter.
Today I would like to share with you in two parts. One, is what are the key ideas this world conference has seen in almost 20 years? It's time for us to look back to see what are the key ideas that we have learnt, and look forward to what are the key ideas towards the middle of this century. Certainly, through this conference, there would be more ideas, but I would like to share with you two key ideas.
Firstly, it's about the term SBE. In the past, when we look back at all these world conferences, from Green Building Challenge '98 initiated by Ray Cole and Nils Larsson almost 20 years ago, and then (the one) held in Maastricht, and after that world conference, people started to change the name from GB to SB. There are academic reasons that Ray and others can explain, but it's the first time that this world conference used the name SBE. It should mean something. Let's consider.
Throughout this timeline for almost 20 years, from 1998 to now, we are improving our understanding about green building - green building, SB and SBE. And I will share with you more how I and Hong Kong people are seeing SBE in relation to the very important new idea - the Paris Agreement in response to climate change. I represented Hong Kong as the China delegation to Paris to attend the UN (United Nations) Climate Summit, and there Christiana and other people got to see the Paris Agreement that would frame our forthcoming world view about SBE in the forthcoming decades.
In particular, we tried to translate the Paris Agreement into something that Hong Kong people, including officials, developers and laymen, can understand. We translated it into the "4T" ideas. That means the Paris Agreement set a "target", which is to limit the global temperature rise to not more than 2 degrees Celsius when compared with the pre-industrial temperature, and set a "timeline", which is to keep that change by the middle of this century, through a "transparent" system, and to work "together" among all the countries except a few.
So that sets a kind of new perspective for policy makers and professionals to work on SBE. In the forthcoming time, I would like to share with you the policies and politics involved, and consider them in the context of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a special city, you can feel the density. Country parks are not far away and the urbanised areas are only about 20 to 25 per cent. From our home, or from many people's home in Hong Kong, within a few minutes' walk or by a subway we can get to a country park.
This picture highlights people. It's because when we talk about SBE, it's not only about concrete, steel, glass, but also about cultural transformation. And that's what our policies are working on. Hong Kong is a compact city, there are merits and also constraints. After the Paris Agreement, we returned to Hong Kong, and there were a number of policy changes in one to two years. One is that we set up a new working group among the works departments, using the latest scientific data, to gauge and forecast the forthcoming extreme weather and the related impacts that would affect our infrastructure, buildings and the built environment. One thing is about the temperature as I highlighted earlier.
In the past, from 1966 to 2005, the observed extremely warm and humid days that are shown in orange and red seemed already quite impactful to Hong Kong people. But the forecast is telling us that by middle of this century, from 2051 to 2060, and then the last bar, by the end of this century, there will be more extremely warm and humid days. And even worse, they will come consecutively, that would be very harmful to public health, and even about life and death. Certainly there would be more data about rising sea level, about rainfall, etc. I'm not going to bother you. We are putting all those data on our centralised Climate Ready@HK website, that is a means that we would like to better inform people, professionals, developers and the general public.
As the Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew (Cheung) said yesterday, after the Paris Agreement we set up a new Steering Committee on Climate Change. Chaired by himself and attended by all the ministers in Hong Kong, from education and development to innovation and technology, we all worked together internally and we formed a closer partnership to combat climate change.
And before the Paris meeting, we launched Hong Kong's first ever "Energy Saving Plan for Hong Kong's Built Environment 2015~2025+", setting a new and aggressive target in terms of energy intensity reduction, which is higher than other APEC cities. Even though Hong Kong's current energy intensity is the lowest compared with the other APEC economies and all European economies, we would like to go even further and more aggressive. After the Paris Agreement, we formed the SCCC, the Steering Committee on Climate Change, and worked together, engaged the public and the stakeholders and formulated the "Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2030+", we called the "CAP 2030+". All the information is available on the www.climateready.gov.hk website. We also have a simple leaflet to show the targets, mitigation strategies, adaptation and resilience. To respond to climate change is not only about decarbonisation, it is also about how to make our built environment more climate adaptive and resilient, both in terms of hardware and software. And also, outside this venue, you are welcome to visit the Environment Bureau's booth to understand more about our Plan.
Hong Kong's strategies should be based on the local situation, so the carbon footprint is a kind of matrix for us to develop further. You can see that Hong Kong has a special kind of economic structure and situation, so you can see the biggest carbon footprint is related to electricity generation - 70 per cent. And 90 per cent of the power consumption is being used in buildings like these, for space cooling, lighting, etc. So buildings are very important in Hong Kong, accounting for about 60 per cent of Hong Kong's carbon footprint. So when we talk about green building, SBE, buildings are really the focus. And for transportation, it's 16 per cent, which is relatively low when compared with other global cities. But we would like to further reduce its carbon footprint, other than waste and others. So our Climate Action Plan focuses on these four areas: supply side of energy, green building, transportation and waste reduction. And in Hong Kong, in recent years, the average carbon footprint per year is 6.2 tonnes. It is higher than that in Mainland China. When compared with the other global cities, there is room for improvement. And on top of that, it is not only about climate, we would like to promote integration and innovation. So while we would like to reduce the carbon footprint in relation to these four areas, we would like to take the opportunity to see the co-benefits. For instance, we would like to improve the air quality locally. At the same time, we would like to improve the transportation energy use. So there would be multiple benefits that we would like to seize through a single policy. It is important for Hong Kong people or for Mainlanders that they will feel that the air quality would be closer to them. So in terms of politics, in terms of policy formulation and communication, that means we should have a strategy to inform people. At the same time, besides communication, we understand that we would like to address all these issues, local issues, global issues together, on waste, air quality, energy supply, energy saving, climate adaptation and resilience.
The Plan shows a new target, currently 6.2 tonnes per capita, and the previous target was to reduce the per capita carbon footprint to around 4.5 tonnes by 2020 - that means in three years' time - and the new target is to reduce it further to around 3-point-something by 2030. In terms of intensity, it is about 65 to 70 per cent, and in terms of absolute reduction, it is about 26 to 36 per cent. We try to communicate through the 4Ts strategy as I said earlier - target, timeline, transparency and together.
In terms of mitigation, to echo the footprint matrix, supply side is very important. Hong Kong is going to phase out all the coal-fired power plants in a decade's time, and to have more renewable energy. But Hong Kong is facing constraints because due to the geographical area and also the availability of renewable energy, we may have to consider further how we can further improve the mix of the renewable energy through cross border collaboration and so on. At the same time, as I said earlier, green building and building energy saving are very important in Hong Kong. So we are setting a new energy intensity target and promoting through this 4Ts partnership, about which I will tell you more, and then low carbon transportation and "waste less".
I will show you some figures about low carbon transportation in Hong Kong. These figures contain many data, but at the bottom, among the 44 global cities, you can see that Hong Kong transportation's energy use and the left (chart) is probably something that we can be proud of. For instance, you can see the bottom line - the blue line shows private car usage, the green (line) shows transit, and the purple (line) shows walkability. You can see that in Hong Kong, we have the highest use of mass transit and walkability. That's why we have the lowest energy use in both public and private modes of transportation.
Other things that we should do concern the supply and demand side of power and building. As I said, we are working with the power companies. We have just renewed the contract of agreement (Scheme of Control Agreement) with the two companies. In the next 15 years, the power companies will be more supportive of renewable energy, not only the centralised one, but also the distributed ones integrated with buildings, and also to promote energy saving through collaboration in partnership with property owners to save energy.
And then we have the 4Ts approach to promote green buildings. We have a map to show how we promote SBE across the territory, from buildings, supply and transportation to waste reduction. "Together" is a holistic view.
You can zoom in to the neighbourhood level and the showcase is Kai Tak, where the old airport was located. A few highlights are that it is the first district where we promoted district cooling, which is far more energy efficient. At the same time, it can make the urban climate better because instead of individual space cooling associated with buildings, we can get rid of all of them. Individual building rooftops can support more greening and more public space. The whole space urban heat island effect could be reduced. At the same time, the roof space can support more renewable energy, greening, public space and so forth. So it is a showcase of how we are looking at the neighbourhood. It's also the area using the urban climatic mapping design, the air ventilation is very important for Hong Kong, from shading and greening to cool, and also to let more wind get into the urban area. Under the research of Professor Edward Ng, here is the area to showcase this kind of bioclimatic study at the neightbourhood scale in the context of Hong Kong, given its high density and subtropical climate. On smart city technology, tomorrow the Secretary for the Development will tell you more about how we can have a smart city on hardware and software to promote a low carbon living.
Down to new building and existing building levels, these we have been talking about for a long time. We have the strategy and blueprint. One thing I would like to highlight is that, as Matthew (Cheung) said yesterday, we are going to have more public housing, new public housing in Hong Kong, and also more hotels, hospitals and others, and all these are to be green buildings. We have the internal government policy that requires that new government buildings should be at least at the second highest level under Hong Kong BEAM Plus certification. So it is not only for officials, but also for grassroots people living in public housing to enjoy green buildings and for existing buildings as well.
I would also like to tell you that we are launching this new document today - "Deepening Energy Saving in Existing Buildings in Hong Kong through the '4Ts' Partnership". Hong Kong has a number of high-rise buildings, probably the largest number in the world, and is facing different challenges. But we have the 4Ts partnership with the biggest developers in Hong Kong. Although they occupy only 1 or 2 per cent of the buildings in Hong Kong, in terms of energy use, they represent 20 to 30 per cent of the total energy consumption in Hong Kong. So that would be a very effective way to strategically talk with them within the partnership. This picture shows that the Government and commercial buildings are working together. Through this 4Ts partnership we can set a new target together in the forthcoming five years for reducing our energy use and, at the same time, we can promote green building certification, retro-commissioning and retrofitting, etc. So the result is that in the forthcoming five years, through the partnership, we can further reduce Hong Kong's total energy use by 5 per cent through their energy reduction.
Lastly, I would like to say that the Paris Agreement is good for Hong Kong and good for other cities. It would make our city great again - happier, healthier and economically better. So with that, I would like you to enjoy the conference. Hong Kong may contribute to you through this 4Ts partnership and the interpretation of the Paris Agreement. It's important that we have to work together. Be climate ready, and don't be a Big Waster!
Thank you all of you again. Thank you.
Ends/Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:49