Hong Kong lacks a climate change authority to spearhead and keep the subject high on the policy agenda, according to the Paris Watch – Hong Kong Climate Action Report, published by Hong Kong based-NGO CarbonCare InnoLab last December.
“Hong Kong has no dedicated climate authority, unlike Singapore, Seoul, and Tokyo. Uncertainty as to who in government owns the climate change agenda leads to a dilution of leadership on climate action, which needs to involve a broad socio-economic realignment beyond just environmental protection,” the report read. It added that the lack of a climate “champion” and corresponding deployment of resources led to the conclusion that this area of policy was not given sufficient importance.
Even though the Environment Bureau – which also steers policies for waste, energy, and conservation among other roles – took on the biggest policymaking role, it alone lacked the wherewithal to spur “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban, and infrastructure including transport and buildings, and industrial systems”, needed to thwart runaway global warming.
The Paris Watch report also raised questions over the role – and transparency – of Hong Kong’s Steering Committee on Climate Change, a body chaired by the city’s chief secretary and set up in 2016. Since a press release about its first meeting in April 2016, the group has not provided any information about its activities. The committee has no dedicated website, and details of its meetings or minutes cannot be found in the public domain.
Responding to lawmakers’ queries last December, the bureau said the committee had discussed Central Policy Unit proposals on carbon trading and agreed that Hong Kong was “not yet in a position to establish its own carbon trading market at this stage”. The unit – recently restructured as the Policy Innovation and Coordination Office – published a study last June to look into whether the city could develop its own carbon trading market and, if so, what role it could can play in the national one.
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