HK Regulators Offer Support for New Climate Action Plan

The Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group pledges support for the government’s Climate Action Plan 2050.

Hong Kong’s Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group (CASG) has issued a statement welcoming the city’s new Climate Action Plan 2050.

The CSAG was launched last year to accelerate the growth of green and sustainable finance in Hong Kong. In December, it announced a strategic plan setting out six key focus areas to strengthen the city’s financial ecosystem to support a greener and more sustainable future.

The new Climate Action Plan, announced by the government on 8 October, sets out a vision for “Zero-carbon Emissions • Liveable City • Sustainable Development”, and outlines the strategies and targets for combating climate change and achieving carbon neutrality.

The four major decarbonisation strategies and measures are: net-zero electricity generation, energy saving and green buildings, green transport and waste reduction.

“As an international financial centre, Hong Kong has a critical role to play to mobilise capital to implement the four major decarbonisation strategies and measures,” said Ashley Alder, CEO of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and Co-Chair of the CASG.

The Climate Action Plan highlights opportunities to develop Hong Kong into a leading green financial centre and a new hub for smart and green technology, emphasising the role of the CSAG to accelerate the growth of green and sustainable finance in the city.

“Hong Kong will continue to consolidate its position as the green finance hub for Asia and the Mainland including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area [GBA] to connect international investors and the Mainland markets,” Alder said.

In the next 15 to 20 years, the government estimates its expenditures on measures to combat climate change could reach HKD 240 billion, on top of investment from private enterprises. “The enormous demand for financing will accelerate the development of green bonds and other green and sustainable financial products in Hong Kong,” the Climate Action Plan says.

It also highlights GBA development plans from Mainland policymakers, which include support for Hong Kong to develop itself into a regional green finance centre and set up internationally recognised green bond certification institutions.

The Plan notes that the CSAG has set up a Carbon Market Work Stream to assess the feasibility of developing Hong Kong into a regional carbon trading centre. This work will also explore the development of a unified carbon market in the GBA, based on the existing pilot emission trading scheme (ETS) in Guangdong. The study report is expected to be completed in December 2021.

The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the newly-launched Guangzhou Futures Exchange (GFEX) to cooperate on promoting sustainability and facilitating the overall development of the GBA – including to support peak carbon and carbon neutrality goals and develop green products.

“The CASG is committed to helping accelerate the growth of green and sustainable finance in Hong Kong, with a view to supporting the transition of our economy to carbon neutrality and facilitating the management of climate risk by financial institutions,” said Eddie Yue, Chief Executive of the HKMA (Hong Kong Monetary Authority) and Co-Chair of the CASG.

“We look forward to close partnership and collaboration with all stakeholders through concrete actions to achieve the objectives set out in the action plan.”

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