2016-01-06 17:10:00
LCQ6: Addressing climate change
LCQ6: Addressing climate change
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    Following is a question by the Hon Martin Liao and a reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (January 6):

Question:

    The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change passed in December last year a new agreement on the global efforts in addressing climate change (the Paris Agreement). One of the objectives of the Paris Agreement is to control global emissions of greenhouse gases, with a view to controlling the rise of the global average temperature within two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrialisation level, and striving continuously to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrialisation level (collectively known as the temperature goals). The Secretary for the Environment welcomes the passage of the Paris Agreement, and describes it as the turning point for addressing climate change and environmental issues in human history. On the other hand, the Government set a carbon reduction target in 2010, planning to reduce the carbon intensity of Hong Kong by 50 per cent to 60 per cent by 2020 from the 2005 level. Regarding the issues on addressing climate change, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that the Paris Agreement has set specific temperature goals, whether the authorities will formulate specific plans to address the different scenarios of global temperature which may emerge in the future; if they will, of the details of such plans, including whether the authorities will regularly report to the public the progress of the implementation of the plans;

(2) given that the Paris Agreement has set more aggressive temperature goals and Hong Kong is an international city and advanced economy, whether the authorities will set a more forward-looking carbon reduction target for 2020; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) given that the authorities have indicated that they will discuss with the various sectors of the community on the carbon reduction target beyond 2020 and the issues relating to addressing climate change, and will formulate appropriate options, of the details of the relevant work, including the timetable for implementing the various targets?

Reply:

Acting President,

    Last December, I attended the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Steering Committee Meeting and C40 Forum held in Paris, and joined the national delegation in attending the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Convention). We also conducted a seminar in the COP exhibition centre to discuss Hong Kong's strategies for addressing extreme climate risks.

    Through concerted efforts, 195 countries reached a consensus on global response to climate change in COP21 and adopted the Paris Agreement under the Convention. We welcome the adoption of the Paris Agreement by COP21. This new agreement lays down clear direction and objectives beyond 2020 for global co-operation in addressing climate change. The objectives include limiting the global average temperature rise within two degrees Celsius (with the pre-industrial levels as the baseline), and striving for limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. From 2020 onwards, all Parties to the Convention will submit the "Nationally Determined Contributions" once every five years to update their emission reduction commitments. In addition, from 2023 onwards, the Conference of Parties will take stock of the overall progress of global actions in addressing climate change at five-year intervals. The global stocktake aims to assess the effectiveness of emission reduction in various countries, strengthen their collaboration and assist them in enhancing emission reduction, with a view to achieving the long-term objectives of global response to climate change.

    My reply to the question raised by Hon Martin Liao is as follows:

(1) The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) has been following up on the Assessment Reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up under the Convention. The HKO has also projected the probable changes in future climate of Hong Kong under different greenhouse gas concentration scenarios. Such projections provide the latest climate projection information for policy assessment and implementation so that various departments may not only adjust their plans to address climate change, but also evaluate the infrastructure and contingency plans that may be affected. For example, the Geotechnical Engineering Office under the Civil Engineering and Development Department has tested the maximum loading of existing systems under different intensities of extreme rainfall to assess landslide risks and work out appropriate response plans. In light of the outcome of the Paris Agreement, the latest development worldwide in addressing climate change and the up-to-date projection of future climate changes, we will review our efforts including those related to adaptation and resilience to climate change, and will announce any new policies and initiatives in due course.

(2) and (3) The Paris Agreement lays down clear direction and objectives beyond 2020 for global co-operation in addressing climate change. To this end, Hong Kong will take forward mitigation measures proactively to achieve the 50-60 per cent carbon intensity reduction target from the 2005 level by 2020. The Hong Kong Climate Change Report 2015 recently published by the Environment Bureau consolidates the efforts of the relevant government departments. We will continue to review and optimise our policies and actions on carbon reduction in the areas of optimising our fuel mix, maximising energy efficiency, promoting green road transport, using clean fuel for motor vehicles and turning waste to energy, with a view to achieving the 2020 target for carbon reduction.

    As regards our tasks beyond 2020, we will continue to closely monitor the latest development worldwide in addressing climate change upon the adoption of the Paris Agreement. We will also keep in view the up-to-date projection of future climate changes. In light of the analysis above, we will review our local efforts in addressing climate change, including our carbon reduction targets, mitigation and adaptation policies on climate change and our resilience to extreme weather. We hope that a new plan will be drawn up within this year.

    We attach great importance to our communication with stakeholders and various sectors of the community with a view to fostering social cohesion. This will help enhance Hong Kong's ability in addressing climate change in terms of mitigation and adaption, as well as resilience to extreme weather. In the Energy Saving Plan for Hong Kong's Built Environment 2015~2025+, we have proposed to set up a dialogue platform, led by the Secretary for the Environment, to collaborate with key stakeholders (such as the built environment sector and power companies) to help point the way to achieve larger energy saving especially from existing buildings. As for the long-term carbon reduction targets and further carbon reduction measures to be adopted in Hong Kong, we are also keen to maintain dialogue with and solicit views from stakeholders and various sectors of the community, to achieve the new target as soon as possible.

    Thank you Acting President.
Ends/Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:10

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