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Towards a Better Hong Kong: Pathways to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Hong Kong kicked off a public engagement program during June to September 2019 to collect public views, and it will subsequently formulate a long-term decarbonisation strategy. Many cities have committed to carbon neutrality or deep  decarbonisation by 2050 or earlier. Copenhagen, for example, committed to being carbon neutral by 2025, and London and New York committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. If Hong Kong can  achieve net zero emissions like these cities? This report analyses the feasibility of Hong Kong’s reaching a net zero emission target in 2050 and provide inputs for the formulation of Hong Kong’s long-term decarbonisation strategy.

Executive Summary

To keep the Earth’s average temperature within 1.5oC of warming above preindustrial levels, the world must be close to carbon neutral by 2050. Hong Kong, like other regions, must develop a concrete plan that can transform the city into a net zero emissions economy and society. The analysis presented in this report demonstrates that Hong Kong can reduce its carbon emissions by 90 per cent by 2050 relative to 2005 levels and offset the remaining 10 per cent which comes from hard-to-abate sectors. To progress towards a net zero emissions future, Hong Kong must begin planning and taking accelerated action now. It needs to adopt a significantly more aggressive decarbonisation target, with annual reductions of 6.6 per cent beginning immediately and continuing through 2050. The greatest potential for reducing emissions comes from improving electricity generation, making buildings more energy efficient and increasing the sustainability of mobility. A net zero emissions economy and society would provide Hong Kong with a cleaner, greener and healthier environment and yield substantial economic and social benefits. Projected reductions in air pollutants would increase life expectancy to the equivalent of about 26,000 lives saved by 2050, and cumulative economic benefits could amount to HK$460 billion.

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