Motion on “Fostering the Achievement of Carbon Neutrality” (2021.09.30)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Deputy President, last year’s Policy Address pledged to strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050 and indicated that the updated Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan setting out more proactive strategies and measures to reduce carbon emissions would be announced by the end of this year. I thank Mr CHAN Chun-ying for moving this motion so that the Legislative Council has an opportunity to discuss the issue of decarbonization, as well as the issue of green finance.

In the face of extreme changes in climate, all countries are actively addressing the situation and certainly Hong Kong must also work hard. We are looking forward to the announcement of the Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan. The Chief Executive has already said that she will chair the interdepartmental Steering Committee on Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality and lead government officials to examine various means to reduce carbon emissions, including exploring zero-carbon energy and decarbonization technology, enhancing the energy efficiency of buildings, introducing more stringent energy efficiency standards, promoting zero-carbon transportation, and building waste-to-energy facilities.

Regarding emissions reduction measures, there are many suggestions from the community, such as eliminating coal-fired power generation and promoting the use of electric vehicles. While I also agree with these suggestions, I will not repeat them today. Instead, I would like to focus on the issue of green finance. Green finance refers to financing the development of green industries through the use of mature financial instruments, including green stocks, green funds, green trusts, green bonds and green insurance. In fact, the construction of waste conversion facilities, the development of zero-carbon transportation and the exploration of new energy sources alike all need huge financial support. Therefore, to achieve carbon neutrality, green finance has a very important role to play.

As an international financial centre, Hong Kong has the competitive edge to become a regional green finance hub. As of July this year, more than 100 green bonds were listed in Hong Kong, with a cumulative value of up to HK$350 billion. The volume of these bonds has constantly increased over the past five years, showing that Hong Kong is welcomed by the global investment community as an ideal platform for green finance. In addition, the Financial Secretary has earlier said that he plans to issue additional government green bonds in multiple currencies totalling more than HK$170 billion in order to further expand the scale of green finance in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, while China is one of the world’s largest green finance markets, Hong Kong is now the main destination for Mainland enterprises to issue green bonds in the country. Some experts estimate that China will need more than RMB100 trillion in green financing over the next 30 years to achieve the carbon neutrality target. Therefore, by developing into a regional hub for green finance, Hong Kong can not only contribute to the country’s cause of environmental protection, but also integrate into the country’s overall development and enjoy significant opportunities for development.

In fact, the Central Authorities also intend to assist Hong Kong in developing into a green finance centre. The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has clearly expressed support for the development of Hong Kong into a green finance centre in the Greater Bay Area. Moreover, with the arrangement for advancing Hong Kong’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, they clearly support the development of a green bond market in Hong Kong. Therefore, with the assistance of the State behind the development of green finance in Hong Kong, the Government should muster the courage to go ahead.

Taking a multi-pronged strategy to promote green and sustainable finance, the Government is working in concert with the regulators on a series of initiatives, including the establishment of the Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has also set up the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office. I believe that with the concerted efforts of the industry, the future of green finance in Hong Kong is boundless. Thank you, Deputy President.

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