CARE2022 Hong Kong Conference

20 The students and young people attending the Government Panel at CARE2022 showed great interest in the work of the authorities and wanted to know how they could be involved. Adaptation and resilience policies Reducing GHGs is no longer enough to stop the impacts of climate change – it is also necessary to start adapting to a warming world. While active mitigation and adaptation are both essential, there are important differences to note: • The benefits arising from mitigation occur on a global scale, whereas adaptation benefits are essentially local. • The success of mitigation can be measured by means of calculating GHG reductions but there is no one metric for measuring success in adaptation, thus efforts must be considered against the specific context of location and characteristics. Role of government The role of local government is therefore vital in adaptation because extreme weather affect specific communities. Individual actions are seldom sufficient with sea level rise, flooding, and landslides. Governments must act – the benefits to society outweigh the costs in terms of loss of life and damage to assets. Only governments have the capacities, policy tools and financial means to deal with long-term horizons, scale and uncertainties through planning and change of land use or activity, building defensive infrastructure, as well as carrying out restoration works and absorbing losses. Dealing with climate change requires policies that invariably run up against costs vs. benefits calculations, effectiveness of interventions, and achieving equity across society. As there are many uncertainties in adaptation, it would be wise to design policies with flexibility that could respond to changing conditions over time. There are long-term fiscal implications for adaptation and the needed public sector investments are large. For Hong Kong, dealing with extreme storms, heavy precipitations, coastal protection and flooding, as well as landslides require continuous research and astute long-term budgeting. Moreover, the built environment will need to be adapted to 3 Government Panel on Adaptation and Resilience reduce risks associated with more frequent and extreme weather events, including rising temperatures that will affect community health (see Chapter 5). Government decisions about the location and design of new buildings and physical infrastructures will have long-term consequences. Retrofitting buildings will be a critical adaptation response in a densely built-up environment such as Hong Kong and much of the GBA, as most of the building stock in the region expected to be in use in 2050-2060 have already been built and many are ageing. While retrofitting buildings was not discussed on Day 1, it was an issue brought up by stakeholders in the property development sector on Day 3 (see Chapter 6). The rapid pace of climate disruptions results in loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Government policy is needed to reduce such risks through thoughtful planning alongside biodiversity protection and restoration. Nexus between mitigation and adaptation The Secretary for the Environment and Ecology and the Under Secretary for Development, explained the nexus between mitigation and adaptation. The HKSAR Government’s climate mitigation timelines and targets are well-publicised in the Climate Action Plan 2050 and need not be repeated in this report.1 The HKSAR Government aims to “converge the diversified expertise” from various departments to enhance the speed, efficiency and effectiveness in planning and implementing adaptation efforts. The HKSAR Government have major development plans, such as Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, and Kau Yi Chau Artificial Island in Harbour Metropolis, as well as many other plans and projects with climate implications. Current policy already requires departments to integrate sustainability features into them wherever possible, such as renewable energy (for example, Drainage Services Department (DSD) and Water Supplies Department (WSD) both have large solar PV projects), biodiversity, and community enjoyment. This chapter also summarizes the innovation and technology aspects of the government’s work in pursuing climate challenges. October C Hong Kong’s 2021 LIMATE ACTION PLAN