by Mary Devereux, Senior Advisor, SEC Newgate Greater China.
Over the past few days, record-breaking temperatures exceeding 40°C have been recorded in the UK. At time of publication, 85 major wildfires are burning in 13 US states, scorching more than 3m acres. This follows weeks of drought and wildfires in Spain, Portugal, France and Greece. Parts of eastern and southern China have seen outdoor work cancelled and roofs melting.
Once a rare occurrence, these intense heatwaves have become frequent, reaching temperatures formerly impossible to conceive in our lifetimes. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims at an international response to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. This does not seem to be having much effect.
So what can we do about it?
Looking ahead to COP27
In November, Egypt will host COP27, an event seeking to accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced finance. The topic of finance is a crucial one; existing commitments and pledges require urgent follow up. Governments, the private sector and civil society need to work together to transform the way in which we interact with our planet.
Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050
In Hong Kong, there is growing support to transition the economy to net zero by 2050. About two-thirds of carbon emissions come from electricity generation. The HKSAR Government has set net zero electricity generation as one of its major decarbonisation strategies in the Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050.
Major corporates are rising to the challenge. CLP has set aside HK$32 million to help businesses reduce power consumption and HK$100 million to subsidise commercial buildings. Airport Authority Hong Kong has developed an airport-wide carbon reduction plan, that includes deploying a fully electric vehicle fleet on the ground and installing more than 100,000 LED lights.
We need Science-based results
The climate action changes being made across the world often seem opaque, in stark contrast to the sunny skies that many of us have experienced in recent days. This is why we need science-based targets to provide a clearly-defined path to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Hongkong Land Limited's 1.5°C science-based targets to reduce GHG emissions have just been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. They include a 46.2% reduction of absolute GHG emissions by 2030 from 2019 levels. The company has become the sixth company in Hong Kong to have its 1.5°C aligned near-term SBTs approved.
We all have a role to play in reducing climate change. As communicators we carry the message for our clients as well as ourselves. Last year, SEC Newgate launched its first SEC Newgate ESG Monitor which surveyed 10,000+ people in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific to gauge awareness and perceptions of ESG issues. We are already conducting research for this year’s edition.