Climate change is now widely acknowledged as one of the most serious challenges facing mankind in this century. Global warming, which is mainly caused by carbon dioxide gas released during burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of the Earth's natural forests, potentially may result in catastrophic events which will affect our planet’s survival unless properly addressed.

As a problem that threatens the entire planet, Hong Kong is not immune to the impacts of climate change. WWF works extensively with individuals and organizations in the local community to find climate change solutions. From implementing clean energy and stopping deforestation to promoting low-carbon living and wise use of natural resources, WWF helps the people of Hong Kong take action against climate change.

Background and Threats

 / ©: Steve Morello / WWF
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) walking on ice, trying to reach next ice flow. Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.
© Steve Morello / WWF
According to a report presented by the UK Government in 2006, there is a 50% risk that unless addressed global temperatures could increase by more than 5 degrees by 2100 – the same difference between today and the last ice-age.

By releasing huge quantities of greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide), the atmosphere is absorbing excessive infra-red radiation, which results in a rise in the average air temperature of the Earth which contributes to climate change. This causes secondary effects such as sea level rise, melting of ice caps and glaciers, changes in rainfall patterns and other aberrant shifts that could completely alter patterns of life on the planet.

With just a 2 degree global temperature rise above the pre-industrial level, approximately 1 billion people are at risk of water shortages, with around 10 million at risk to coastal flooding. Given that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated a rise of over 4 degrees by 2100, the threat to human society is immense.

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (the latest publication released in 2007) projects a range of 1.1 to 6.4 degrees by 2100 for different emissions scenarios, with the best estimates between 1.8 to 4 degrees.

Impacts for people in Hong Kong

 / ©: WWF-Hong Kong
Hong Kong's Pollution
© WWF-Hong Kong
According to the Hong Kong Observatory, local temperatures have been rising more rapidly than the global average, and they are projected to continue rising into the 2° danger zone by 2050.

This would create numerous threats to the region and the people of Hong Kong. Over the past century, the temperature of Hong Kong seawater has increased 0.5°C. This will lead to thermal expansion and a rise in sea levels. Sea level rise and storm surges would threaten Hong Kong's reclaimed land, particularly during periods where tropical storms force water towards the coast causing an additional rise in sea level.

An increase in temperature during Hong Kong’s summer climate would further facilitate mosquito breeding, and a Hong Kong Polytechnic analysis indicates that a 3° rise in mean temperature would increase the 'epidemic potential' of malaria by nearly 20%. The rising level of urban heat is also likely to lead to an increase in heat-related deaths, particularly among the elderly and the outdoor workers. Climate change may also put a devastating strain on society as a whole as reduced resources immeasurably threaten the livelihoods of individuals and businesses.

WWF connects with five climate witnesses from Hong Kong who share their stories about how climate change has affected their lives. They all tell us the same message; climate change is happening right now, all around us. To hear real people share their stories about climate change in Hong Kong and across the globe, click here now!

Individuals Actions

 / ©: Ben Halford
Switch Off Your Lights!
© Ben Halford

The actions of individuals can have a huge impact in addressing climate change. By adopting a low-carbon lifestyle, individuals can monitor and thereby substantially reduce their carbon footprint. A WWF survey showed that 92% of Hong Kong people are concerned about climate change, while 89% think that the public has responsibility to act, yet there are few outlets for these concerned voices.

WWF offers many ways for individuals to get involved in the combat climate change movement. From specially designed public engagement such as Climateers and Low-carbon Living Appliances Guide to taking part in global events like Earth Hour, WWF offers easy solutions to help people make simple lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change in everyday life.

Read more about individual actions.

Corporate Actions

 / ©: Ben Halford / WWF-Hong Kong
WWF-Hong Kong Corporate Membership Programme
© Ben Halford / WWF-Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s commercial sector has the potential to play a key role in the battle against climate change. As the city’s largest consumer of energy, in addition to the large carbon footprint caused by regular business operations, climate change initiatives enacted by the corporate community can have a huge impact in reducing carbon emissions and conserving resources.

WWF offers three focused programmes to assist Hong Kong’s corporate sector in addressing climate change. Find out more about LCMP, LOOP and Climate Savers, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency among other strategic benefits.

Read more about Corporate Actions.

Low Carbon Future

 / ©: Adam Oswell / WWF
The Sustainable Energy Development Authority Office's in Sydney's business district has installed solar panels on their roof. Sydney, Australia September 2003.
© Adam Oswell / WWF
In the 2008-09 Policy Address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang announced that the Hong Kong Government would promote a low carbon economy, showing the government’s recognition of climate change as a serious issue that requires action. While demanding a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change for Hong Kong from the government, WWF has launched a Climate Policy Address ahead of the release of the 2009-10 Policy Address by the Chief Executive. This plan outlines WWF’s vision and plan of how Hong Kong should battle this imminent global threat to humans and wildlife.

Combat Climate Change Coalition

 / ©: WWF-Hong Kong
Combat Climate Change Coalition
© WWF-Hong Kong
To gather and mobilise the support of civil society, the new Combat Climate Change Coalition (CCCC) was formed by WWF-Hong Kong, Greenpeace China and Oxfam Hong Kong, aiming to urge the Hong Kong Government to enact holistic climate policy that includes ambitious targets of greenhouse gas emissions cut by at least 25 per cent by 2020 from the 1990 levels. Through public activities, symposiums and human impact stories, as of end of 2009, the coalition works with 26 supporting organizations and over 600,000 members to call on public support to join forces in pushing Hong Kong policy makers to cooperate with world leaders to act against the climate crisis.