Climate Change

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and it affects each and every one of us. Here you can learn about what climate change is, the ways in which it is occurring in Hong Kong, what the Government is doing to combat the problem, and how you can help too.

What Climate Change is

Climate change refers to the change in climate as a result of human activities that cause a change in the atmosphere’s composition, in addition to natural climate variability. Human activities cause an increase in atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, mainly through burning of fossil fuels. The greenhouse gases act like a blanket in the atmosphere, trapping heat on Earth and keeping our planet warm. However, the human-induced increase in greenhouse gases has enhanced the greenhouse effect and caused the climate system to warm – a phenomenon commonly called global warming. This general rise in temperature in turn leads to a proliferation of other problems, such as more frequent heat waves, change in precipitation, rise of sea level, reduction in agricultural production, scarcity of water resource, spread of disease, loss of ecological and environmental balance, etc.

Warming Trend during 1901-2012 - unit in °C (Source: IPCC)

Warming Trend during 1901-2012

Climate Change in Hong Kong

Hong Kong In A Warming WorldIn line with the global trend, Hong Kong has been warming up in the last century or so. The number of hot nights is increasing while the number of cold days is decreasing. Apart from rising temperature, Hong Kong experiences more frequent heavy rain than before. The sea level is rising in Victoria Harbour.

Information about climate change and the situation in Hong Kong is available through the following links.

Climate Ready WebsiteHong Kong In A Warming WorldMore on climate changeHong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+Hong Kong Climate Change Report 2015

The Paris Agreement and Hong Kong

The Paris Agreement, which came into force on 4 November 2016, applies to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as well. As part of China, the HKSAR has the duty to make its contribution in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement calls upon the Parties to cooperate with the private sector, civil society, financial institutions, cities and regions in order to mobilise stronger and more ambitious climate actions in the world.

Carbon Emissions and Hong Kong

We have set an ambitious carbon intensity target of 65% to 70% by 2030 using 2005 as the base, which is equivalent to 26% to 36% absolute reduction and a reduction to 3.3-3.8 tonnes on a per capita basis. It is observed that Hong Kong's carbon emissions have shown a decreasing trend since 2014.

Climate Change Initiatives in Hong Kong

Using Cleaner Fuel and Renewable Energy

Currently, about two-thirds of Hong Kong’s carbon emissions come from electricity generation.  The Government has seen to it that the two power companies use cleaner fuel for electricity generation.  Coal only accounts for about one quarter of the fuel mix for electricity generation in 2020, substantially lower than its share in 2015 which was about half.  In the coming decade, the two power companies will continue to replace coal-fired generating units with gas-fired ones.  This will help meet our carbon intensity reduction target of 65% to 70% by 2030 from the 2005 level.  Nevertheless, using natural gas for electricity generation still generates carbon emissions.  If we are to achieve more aggressive carbon reduction targets and strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050, we must substantially increase the proportion of zero-carbon energy in the overall fuel mix for electricity generation.

To further reduce carbon emissions in Hong Kong, the Government has been taking the lead in developing renewable energy (RE) where technically and financially feasible and has been creating the conditions that are conducive to encouraging the private sector to participate. 

For the public sector, we have earmarked HK$2 billion in total since the 2017-18 financial year for the installation of small-scale RE facilities at existing government buildings, venues and facilities.  In addition, government departments are actively considering the development of large-scale RE projects.  For instance, we built the Government’s largest solar farm of 1.1 MW at the Siu Ho Wan Sewage Treatment Works in 2016, and we are considering the installation of large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at suitable locations in reservoirs and landfills.  In respect of turning waste to energy, the T ▪ PARK, sludge treatment facility in Tuen Mun is equipped with facilities to turn thermal energy generated from incineration into electricity.  Apart from meeting the electricity demand of the treatment facility, the surplus electricity can be exported to the power grid.

For the private sector, the Government and the power companies have introduced the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Schemes, providing financial incentives which can encourage the private sector to invest in distributed RE.  The Schemes have been well received by the public.  The Government has also introduced a series of measures to facilitate and support members of the public in developing RE.  Examples include relaxing the restrictions in relation to installation of PV systems at the rooftop of village houses and introducing a new scheme called "Solar Harvest" to install small-scale RE systems for eligible schools and welfare non-Governmental organisations.

Reducing Our "Carbon Footprint"

The most direct and effective method of reducing our "carbon footprint", or the extent to which our activities produce greenhouse gases, is to enhance the overall energy efficiency of our society.

Energy and Carbon Efficiency in Buildings and Infrastructure

Energy saving is important for all times and is the most critical means for Hong Kong to continuously reduce carbon emissions. While we will continue to improve energy saving for new buildings, our main focus is on existing buildings and public infrastructure.

Promoting Energy Efficiency and Carbon Audits in Buildings

As buildings account for about 90% of electricity consumption in Hong Kong, there is great potential to improve energy efficiency and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy efficiency in buildings. The Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance (Cap. 610) requires four major building service installations of new buildings as well as existing buildings undergoing major retrofitting (i.e. air-conditioning, electrical, lift and escalator, and lighting installations) to comply with the energy efficiency standards and requirements specified in the Building Energy Code.

The Government also promotes various green building and energy saving measures. An example is retro-commissioning, which systematically assess a building’s energy performance with a view to identifying improvements in operations for energy saving.

The Government has established a dialogue platform with major stakeholders in the built environment sector to explore energy saving under a “4Ts” framework (target, timeline, transparency and togetherness). We have encouraged the 4Ts partners to set energy saving target and timeline as well as sharing their experiences in energy saving.  

A Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme (MEELS) was first introduced in 2008 through the commencement of Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Ordinance to facilitate consumers to choose more energy-efficient electrical products. The third phase of MEELS commenced in June 2018. Currently, the scheme requires room air-conditioners (both heating and cooling functions), televisions, storage type electric water heaters, induction cookers, refrigerating appliances, compact fluorescent lamps, washing machines (rated washing capacity not exceeding 10kg) and dehumidifiers to carry energy labels before they are supplied to the local market. The Government reviews the scope of MEELS and the grading standards from time to time.

To tie in with the sustainable and environmentally-friendly development of the Kai Tak Development, the Government is implementing a district cooling system (DCS) to serve the buildings at the Kai Tak Development. The DCS has commenced operation in phases since early 2013. The DCS is an energy-efficient air-conditioning system as it consumes 35% and 20% less electricity as compared with traditional air-cooled air-conditioning systems and individual water-cooled air-conditioning systems using cooling towers respectively. The technology has been widely adopted in other parts of the world, such as Singapore, Europe and the United States. Due to better energy efficiency, the maximum annual saving in electricity consumption upon completion of the entire DCS project is estimated to be 85 million kilowatt-hour, with a corresponding reduction of 59,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission per annum. The Government will consider financial viability, cooling demand, environmental impact and other factors in assessing the feasibility of introducing district cooling systems in new development areas. The Government will also consider developing a DCS in other new development and redevelopment areas.

Carbon Emissions

In 2008, the Government launched a set of carbon audit guidelines for buildings. Users and managers of buildings can use the guidelines to assess the carbon emissions from their buildings, to explore room for improvement and to develop emission reduction measures so that their buildings can leave a smaller carbon footprint with less operating expenses through improving energy efficiency and waste reduction. The Government has been promoting carbon audit and taking the lead to conduct carbon audits for government buildings and public facilities. From 2017-18, bureaux and departments have started conducting regular carbon audits on major government buildings and will disclose their audit results. The Government also continues to work with the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited to introduce and promote the website on carbon footprint repository for listed companies in Hong Kong which was launched by the Government in December 2014. As of January 2021, more than 80 listed companies participated in this carbon disclosure initiative by disclosing their carbon management information through the website. More information related to carbon audit is available through the following links.

Carbon Footprint Repository for Listed Companies in Hong KongPractical Guide on Carbon Audit and ManagementExcel Template for “Paper Approach” Carbon Audit

Using Energy-efficient Transport and Cleaner Vehicles

In terms of transportation, the Government is aware that the use of our extensive and energy-efficient public transport system and the use of cleaner vehicles can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is committed to further expanding and upgrading our public transport infrastructure with an emphasis on railways, and encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles. Going forward, we will facilitate walking as well as continue to provide a safe, efficient, reliable and environment-friendly transport system with multi-modal choices that meets the community’s needs. The Government is actively promoting the use of electric commercial vehicles in Hong Kong.  A $300 million Pilot Green Transport Fund was set up in March 2011 to encourage the public transport sectors and goods vehicle operators and charitable / non-profit-making organisations to test out green innovative transport technologies. The Government has also fully subsidised the franchised bus companies to purchase 36 single-deck electric buses, including 28 battery-electric buses and 8 supercapacitor buses, for trial runs to assess their operational efficiency and performance under the local conditions.

Adapting to Climate Change

While Hong Kong has a strong foundation in climate adaptation, we are improving the internal knowledge-sharing and coordination framework to strengthen public sector infrastructure and works programmes. We will strengthen the urban fabric and slope safety. We will also integrate drainage and flood management projects with good landscaping so as to upgrade their amenity and biodiversity value. Furthermore, by reclaiming water, recycling grey water and harvesting rainwater plus implementing desalination, Hong Kong will increase its sources of water. We will continue to consider how best to meet the challenge of sea level rise.

Climate Change and Ecosystems

The Paris Agreement recognises the critical importance of forests as carbon sinks and specifically calls for protection of forests, as well as maintenance of ecosystems. Enhancing ecosystems and appropriate landscaping in urban areas can help to deal with climate change. We have plans to expand country and marine parks, as well as a long-term programme to promote urban forestry and ecology, which will also help to cool the city as temperature rises as a result of climate change.

Joint Hands in Combating Climate Change

The impacts of climate change and the efforts to combat climate change touch on every part of our lives. The issue of climate change can only be sufficiently addressed with wide participation from the government, different sectors of the community and individuals. Recognising the need to step up climate actions and to draw up long-term policies, the Government has set up a Steering Committee on Climate Change under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for Administration to steer and coordinate the climate actions of various bureaux and departments.

Climate Ready @ HK

Greenhouse gas emissions make no distinction between local, national or regional boundaries, and the fight against climate change requires concerted global action. Hong Kong has always taken its international responsibilities very seriously. Hong Kong is a Steering Committee member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. This coalition of cities from different corners of the world has pledged to work hand-in-hand towards enhancing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, with a view to combating climate change.


Assess My Carbon Emissions

The Government has launched the “Low Carbon Living Calculator” to help the public assess and learn how to reduce their carbon emissions in respect of clothing, food, living and travel, thereby promoting behavioural change towards low-carbon living.


How You can Help Combat Climate Change

We believe that we do not have to think big to make a big impact. In Hong Kong, much can be done in our civic infrastructure and the way we live our lives to help combat climate change.

Here are some simple acts everyone can do to make a difference:

  • Switch to compact fluorescent lamps or LED lights;
  • Use electrical appliances with good energy efficiency;
  • Turn off electrical appliances when they are not in use;
  • Maintain temperature setting of air-conditioner at 24-26°C;
  • Use public transportation;
  • Recycle waste material as far as possible;
  • Install a low-flow shower-head and take shorter showers.

The following links will take you to tips on what you can do to combat climate change and reduce your own "carbon footprint" at home, in the office and when you are travelling.

Tips on low-carbon livingTips on saving energyTips on green office managementTips on greener transportation
Found this page helpful?
Found this page helpful?
Your feedback is highly appreciated.(optional)
Notice: This form is NOT intended for handling enquiries or complaints. For assistance, please contact the 24-hour Helpdesk at (852) 183 5500 or email to [email protected].
Thank you. Your input will only be  used to improve GovHK.
Last revision date: March 2021