How Hong Kong’s budget can best channel green investments

People stand outside a recycling station in Tai Po on January 18. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

The 2024-25 budget will be unveiled by Financial Secretary Chan Mo-po on February 28. The Green Earth would like to share the views it expressed on environmental measures during a budget consultation meeting.

The need to keep expenditure within the limit of revenue is clearly stated in the Basic Law. In December last year, Chan warned that the government’s deficit could be more than HK$100 billion (US$12.8 billion). We must prevent the situation from worsening.

It would be prudent for the government to pull the plug on the mega reclamation project “Lantau Tomorrow Vision”, estimated to cost HK$580 billion, and channel its limited reserves into other areas where investments are more needed for the sustainable development of our city.

For example, to ease public concern about the waste charging scheme that has been postponed and will now take effect on August 1, the government needs to set aside enough funds to improve waste management facilities while enhancing public education.

Apart from the existing recycling facilities, there are only 47 government-funded recycling stations and recycling stores coupled with some 130 recycling spots to serve the entire population. In some districts, residents need to walk at least 15 minutes if they are keen to practise recycling. This weak recycling network should be expanded to make it more convenient for users.

Besides dry recyclables, we generate wet recyclables – mainly food waste, which accounts for 30 per cent of the city’s municipal solid waste. So far 449 food waste smart recycling bins have been installed in residential buildings, but we need many more to serve the domestic and commercial sectors.

Another new bill aiming to reduce single-use plastics will take effect on April 22. The government should strengthen the promotion of the single-use plastic ban to enable people to understand the environmental and health benefits that the ban will bring.

Why not consider offering subsidies to encourage businesses to deploy the reuse approach as changing to use non-plastic alternatives will yield the same amount of waste?

To reduce air pollutants emitted from ocean vessels and container ships to safeguard public health, the government should follow the global trend of developing shore power facilities at our cruise and container terminals.

Strong public opposition to the waste charging scheme reflects that environmental education must be strengthened for all sectors. To do this well and have a long-lasting effect, perhaps our government officials should be first educated on where to put green investments.

An SCMP article contributed by Mr Edwin Lau,

Founder & Executive Director of The Green Earth

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