Group says HK fails in energy efficiency

Local | 29 Jan 2019 10:17 am

The Business Environment Council says there has been hardly any progress over the last decade in Hong Kong on improving energy efficiency in buildings, RTHK reports.

It says that needs to change quickly if the city is to meet its obligations to cut carbon emissions, to address climate change.

"If we think about total greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong, two-thirds are from electricity generation and 93 percent of electricity produced has been consumed by existing commercial and residential buildings,” says Simon Ng, director of policy and research at the BEC.

"In other words, buildings consume a lot of electricity, and because of that, also emit a lot of carbon. So that's why we want to focus on the energy efficiency of buildings."

The latest special report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we only have 12 years to keep global-temperature rises to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels to avoid a climate catastrophe.

It says we'll need to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent from 2010 levels. At the moment, Hong Kong is targeting a cut of up to 36 percent from 2005 levels.

In a new research report published on Monday, the council looked at how seven other cities – Beijing, Shenzhen, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Essen, and New York City – are investing in improving energy efficiency in buildings. It examined how their measures were implemented and why they were successful.

"Some cities really take it on themselves to become a climate leader,” says Ng. "With that message and clear policy direction, the business sector and other technology providers will look for opportunities to tap into new product ideas or new ways of doing their business.”

Ng says a critical step in the right direction would be to improve data transparency. A mandatory reporting system, aggregated and anonymised in a single location, would help set benchmarks that building owners can use to improve their building's performance.

There also needs to be a way to give incentive to landlords and tenants to invest in energy efficiency. At the moment, it doesn't make financial sense for either to do so.

The BEC suggests taking the example of green leases from the likes of Sydney and New York, which encourage longer tenancies, and allow savings to be split between tenants and landlords.

A new government strategy on the city's long-term decarbonisation strategy is expected to be formulated by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2020.

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