WWF’s Response to the Chief Executive’s 2017 Policy Address | WWF Hong Kong

WWF’s Response to the Chief Executive’s 2017 Policy Address

11 October 2017

Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s inaugural Policy Address, delivered today at the Legislative Council, outlined the government’s commitment to implementing blueprints to tackle climate change, biodiversity conservation, and to stop the illegal wildlife trade, but it contained almost no new environmental initiatives.
“With the recent commitment by Chief Executive Lam to United Nations President Peter Thomson to expand the network of marine protected areas in Hong Kong, we expected to see this on Ms Lam’s Policy agenda,” said Gavin Edwards, Director of Conservation of WWF-Hong Kong.

He added, “Lost opportunities include a commitment to put deposits on plastic bottles to encourage recycling, and new incentives for the purchase of Electric Vehicles. The environment and sustainability is a priority issue for Hong Kongers, especially the younger generation. If Hong Kong is to become Asia’s leading sustainable city, then Chief Executive Lam needs to step up her leadership efforts on the environment.”
Below is WWF’s response to some of the environment-related policies covered in this year’s address:
Land Use – Brownfield Policy
WWF welcomes the government’s commitment to study brownfield sites and explore how they can be effectively used for housing and other development purposes. The spread of brownfields should be stopped through better enforcement and tightening of the town planning process. The solution for Hong Kong’s housing problem clearly lies in the better use of brownfields and other under-utilized land and facilities. There is no need to sacrifice our valuable country parks.
Countryside Conservation Office
WWF is glad that the government recognizes the value of remote countryside and will enhance their conservation value. There are large areas of private fish ponds in the Deep Bay Area which support the migratory water birds are of high conservation value. These appear to fall outside the scope of the Countryside Conservation Office. A statutory Nature Conservation Trust is needed to provide an effective and long-term solution to protect these private lands of high ecological value. We hope the government will form a joint working group with green groups, academics and other stakeholders to agree on the goals, scope and mechanism of the Trust following the world’s best practice.
WWF welcomes government’s commitment to develop large-scale renewable energy projects to promote the adoption of distributed renewable energy. We suggest that an ambitious 10 per cent renewable electricity target is needed for 2030 for the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and Renewable Energy Certificates Schemes. An introductory rate of $4/kWh should be offered to renewable electricity generators for the electricity they produce, with a fixed term of 20-25 years to ensure the cost of solar systems can be fully covered within 8-10 years.
We also suggest that the regulation of electrical appliances under the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme (MEELS) should be extended from domestic to commercial, covering commercial appliances with high energy demand such as refrigeration, air-conditioners and heaters.
Marine Plastics
Disposable plastic wastes are among the most common marine litter found in Hong Kong waters. In the last policy address, the government suggested a feasibility study on a producer responsibility scheme for plastic containers but so far there has been no progress. While the proposal of the central collection of plastic bottles in this policy address is a small step forward, we urge the government to introduce the deposit refund scheme on plastic bottles to ensure they are properly collected and not sent to landfill.
Ivory Ban
WWF welcomes the determination shown by the government over the proposed ivory ban without compensation. It is also important to recognize wildlife crime is a serious crime, requiring greater involvement from the Hong Kong police and other authorities to crackdown on the kingpins rather than just the ‘mules’ who get caught at the border.