Hong Kong needs a sustainable energy vision

Our expectations before Chief Executive's Policy Address

Feature Story - 2006-10-10
Air pollution plagues Hong Kong’s environment and the quality of life for long time. Meanwhile, we are also witnessing the impact of climate change, such as longer hot period, and more droughts and floods. There is a consensus all over the country that coal is the most polluting fuel, and the solutions to this problem totally lie on energy saving measures and a major switch by the whole society to clean, renewable energy.

2006-2007 Policy Address

Unfortunately, our government dare not touch the biggest "tigers", the power companies, but only demand the citizens to do the piecemeal actions, such as switching off the cars when parking.

During the negotiation of our government officials with the power companies, most attentions are focussed on the agreements themselves and whether the renewal of agreements will affect their profits, but seldom on Hong Kong's future energy vision. We should not only rely on the two power companies to give us an energy vision. The only way is that the Hong Kong government should take up the lead towards a sustainable energy future.

Yet, Hong Kong government did not take any bold steps. Without a unified energy administration, Hong Kong's energy research and policy papers can only be found in various different departments or bureaus. The development of energy sector is without a long-term direction and monitoring. A real renewable energy future will not be developed without such strong policy direction.

Hong Kong should be able to tap the huge potential of wind power from the neighbouring Guangdong Province. According to a Greenpeace study, Guangdong should be able to develop 20GW of wind power which can also benefit Hong Kong.  Hong Kong should consider discussing with Guangdong Province on the future energy co-operation, including helping attract more investments in Guangdong's wind power and transmitting electricity from Guangdong's wind farms to Hong Kong.

We can also develop a law to encourage and promote the development of renewable energy; the present 1% non-legally binded renewable target of the government by 2012 is simply too low, if not shameful to Hong Kong self-proclaimed an "Asian's World City".   Examples in both Shanghai and the Netherlands prove encouraging in renewable energy uptake.  As a government of an international city, they should not lag behind the other major cities and advanced countries.

The massive uptake of Guangdong's wind power, together with other air pollution abatement measures, including the emission trading scheme and the installation of emission abatement facilities, will be able to improve the air quality of Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta.

But our government has yet to pick up the trend and continue their laissez-faire policy, which the Chief Executive Donald Tsang has already claimed to abandon. Mr. Tsang must act now. Real actions speak much louder than words. This is also what the people living in Hong Kong and the rest of the region want to see.