Sharing Knowledge, Creating Solutions: Lessons Learned from U.S. Action on Climate Change
Greenpeace Campaigner Gloria Chang criticizes, "Chief Executive Donald Tsang in his recent Policy Address showed concerns to the global warming crisis but he is not acting out his words. Compared to efforts paid by states and cities in the United States, in view of the Bush Administration's evasion from addressing the Protocol, Hong Kong should take actions, given that China is a signatory of the Protocol and Hong Kong enjoys high degree of autonomy.
She thinks that Mr. Tsang should take responsibility and act visionary just as leaders of other international cities do and get ready to reduce carbon dioxide from electric plants under the new Scheme of Control.
The Greenpeace report analyzes how states and cities in the United States, which have similar population and GDP as Hong Kong (Annex 1 country under the Kyoto Protocol), battle against climate change, and how jobs and new business opportunities are created as a result of such moves. States such as Maryland and New Jersey, having similar population as Hong Kong, California who enjoys a developed economic entity, and Connecticut having similar emission level as Hong Kong, have all implemented innovative and effective measures to reduce GHG.
California, for example, is the 7th largest economic unit if ranked independently of the United States. Their state government launches a series of emission reduction policy, which is expected to bring in revenue of USD$4 billion and create 83,000 new jobs. These measures include:
1. To regulate reduction of emission in specific industries such as electric plants and oil refineries
2. To set targets to enhance energy efficiency and use of renewable energy by public utilities
3. To request regular reports from industries emitting the largest quantity of GHG
It is estimated that if the global temperature rose by 3 degree Celsius, glacier in Greenland would melt. Buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbor would be drowned, and the economic loss of Hong Kong would amount to HKD$400 billion. The SAR government should not hesitate to reduce GHG emission. In fact, the experience in California proves that environmental measures may not necessarily be destructive to the economy. They can even generate economic benefits and create a win-win situation for both the environment and economy.
Data from the local Environment and Protection Department shows that the overall GHG emission keeps on growing since the late 1990s. For instance, the emission level of carbon dioxide in 2004 reached 37,600 thousand tons, which shows a 10 % increase in addition to the 1990 level. In addition, emission from electric plants accounts for 70% of total emission in Hong Kong, which is the major local source of GHG.
It is claimed by the SAR government that Hong Kong would follow China in setting targets to reduce GHG emission. According to the Kyoto Protocol, China, as a developing country, is not required to set up any targets for emission reduction. Hong Kong, however, claimed to be "Asia's World City" and having an impressive average GDP per capita, is economically comparable to developed countries such as Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France, which have already rectified the Kyoto Protocol. Hong Kong is able and also necessary to reduce the emission of GHG and to restrict carbon dioxide emission from electric plants.
Appendix 1: Sharing Knowledge, Creating Solutions Report Summary
Appendix 2 FAQ: What have the SAR Government done to tackle climate change?