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Hong Kong Civil Society Declaration On Paris Climate Summit

Nature Conservation | Date: November 27, 2015

“We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty; just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet.” This is the warning from the United Nations document, ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, signed by world leaders in September 2015.

The document points out: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development. Increases in global temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification and other climate change impacts are seriously affecting coastal areas and low-lying coastal countries, including many least developed countries and small island developing States. The survival of many societies, and of the biological support systems of the planet, is at risk.”

Based on the latest scientific studies, unless the international community adopts the toughest carbon reduction measures in the scenarios proposed in the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth report, the average global temperature will rise above 2 degree Celsius from pre-industrial level. The consequential melting of Antarctic ice will result in a sea level rise of 10 meters, which means the settlement areas of 10% of the world’s population will be under water. No doubt, Hong Kong people are facing an unprecedented existential crisis.

In advance of UNFCCC COP21 to be held in Paris at the end of this month, we, being members of Hong Kong civil society, are convinced of the need for urgent and bold action to combat climate change. We hereby make the following declaration:
We urge the international community to do their best to reach a comprehensive deal on greenhouse gas emissions combining ambitious targets that hold global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius, but in any case not more than 2 degree Celsius, with thorough implementation and monitoring strategies.

We believe wealthy, large cities have special responsibilities for bold action and ambitious targets on climate change as they consume the majority of the world’s energy and consumer products. Even with a slight rise in sea level, the survival of a big section of the population in large coastal cities will be threatened. Therefore, in accordance with the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’, effective mechanisms should be embedded in international agreements to necessitate technology transfer from rich countries to large cities in developing countries, and to provide adequate resources for adaptation measures.

We recognize that there is a large gap between current ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (INDCs) and what is needed to prevent global temperature rise below 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. We believe that cities enjoying high degree of legislative autonomy and economic prosperity should make additional pledges above their respective countries’ contributions in order to help achieve the global reduction targets. Hong Kong falls into this category of cities and we hope the SAR Government can make a positive response.
We urge the Hong Kong business sector to support ambitious carbon reduction targets and relevant legislative efforts of the SAR Government. Starting from large corporations and listed companies, the business sector should aim for comprehensive carbon disclosure; issue transparent sustainability reports; implement voluntary reduction initiatives and innovative projects; and adjust their business strategies to achieve or come close to a zero carbon economy by 2050.

Climate change is an existential threat to every Hongkonger. We shall work with all NGOs and all sectors of society to monitor government response and call for bold corporate action; and to encourage the public to take up carbon reduction initiatives in whatever way possible, including appropriate support for climate-vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

We call for all stakeholders in Hong Kong – individuals, civil society organisations, companies and government agencies, to take urgent action to make us proud to be the ‘last generation to have a chance of saving the planet’, and not to leave any regret for future generations.

[註] Journal References:
N. R. Golledge, D. E. Kowalewski, T. R. Naish, R. H. Levy, C. J. Fogwill, E. G. W. Gasson. The multi-millennial Antarctic commitment to future sea-level rise. Nature, 2015; 526 (7573): 421 DOI: 10.1038/nature15706
Alexander Robel. Climate science: The long future of Antarctic melting. Nature, 2015; 526 (7573): 327 DOI: 10.1038/526327a

Co-signatories:
350HK.org
CarbonCare
InnoLab
Clean the Air
Designing Hong Kong
Friends of the Earth (HK)
Green Lantau Association
Green Sense
Greeners Action
Greenpeace
Hong Kong Bird Watching Society
Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society
Hong Kong People’s Council for Sustainable Development
Save Lantau Alliance The Conservancy Association
WWF-Hong Kong