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Health & Environment

Green building facilities a sustainable future in Hong Kong

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: YANG Haicen、LIU Yutong、BO ChuxuanEdited by: Yuqi CHU
  • 2024-03-26

Next to the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok, a leisure and entertainment business centre is about to be launched The exteriors of the three main buildings are all made of glass walls, which effectively gives insulation and increases light sources, just like an airship. Its extensive green walls and surroundings with abundant plants signal its uniqueness as a green building. “I am looking forward to the soon to be opened K11 Skies,” said Lai Wing-tsz, a passerby who just left the airport, “it amazes me and makes me wonder if it is still the Hong Kong I remember. ” In recent years, the concept of green building has been developing rapidly in Hong Kong with the goal of a sustainable future, a concept  valued by the government and top developers.  "Green building is not just about the building itself," said Vivian Ngan, the assistant manager of Hong Kong Green Building Council (HKGBC), "it's about an organisational unity of the building and its surroundings." Green buildings are supposed to be environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient by reducing carbon emissions, increasing green coverage, reusing waste materials, installing rooftop solar panels and district cooling systems. K11 Skies for example, has been awarded platinum certification in several Hong Kong and international green building ratings, a recognition even higher than K11 Musea beside Victoria Harbour.  According to HKGBC, more than 57% of the roof of K11 Skies is covered with highly reflective coatings and greenery to reduce energy loss. It also uses non-chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating system in order to avoid ozone-depleting substances.  In addition to K11 Skies, there are thousands of other green buildings in Hong Kong. In order to achieve the government’s long-term goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, green buildings are now a priority in …

Society

Hong Kong recycling industry faces uncertainty over waste charging scheme

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: LI Sin Tung、CHEN Yik NamEdited by: James Ezekiel Kalaw MODESTO
  • 2024-03-24

Yeung Man-ching, 21, a student at the Hong Kong Baptist University, starts her morning by bringing plastic bottles and waste paper from home to throw them into the recycling bin on campus. She has been recycling garbage for more than two years and says she has recycled over a hundred bottles. “I always ask my family to collect and clean the plastic bottles. From where I live in Tai Wai, there are no recycling bins downstairs at my house, so I can only take them back to school to be recycled,” she said. Yeung said that she once passed a food waste recycling machine in Sha Tin with a long queue, which intrigued her. She had never thought about recycling before and decided then to start recycling plastic bottles. “I believe that after the waste-charging scheme is officially implemented, more people will be willing to recycle,” she added. “It’s time for Hong Kong’s recycling system to improve.” Recycling in Hong Kong is finally on track, alongside many expectations of its continuous development with the introduction of a new waste charging scheme, whose implementation was pushed back until August this year. But experts say the city still has a long way to go before it can call itself green. “I have noted many discussions and questions raised by various sectors in the community about Municipal Solid Waste Charging, and many people expressed their concerns to me that the general public do not understand how waste charging will be implemented,” said Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan in a media session on Jan. 19. “As a responsible government, we would like to implement waste charging successfully and smoothly,” said Tse. “Therefore, I believe it is a liable act for us to put more time into public education.” The “pay-as-you-throw” charging scheme …

Health & Environment

Small companies find ESG compliance easier said than done

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: XIA Fan、ZHAO RuntongEdited by: Junzhe JIANG、Ji Youn Lee
  • 2024-03-23

Two years ago, Edmund Chan started a small company called Meat The Next which offers  plant protein products. He came up with the idea soon after his child was born because he wanted to protect the  environment for the next generation through sustainable development. “Sustainable development has the highest priority in our business,” Chan said. “We want to provide a solution to our customers and give them the platform to protect the environment.” Chan’s company develops  their leading products in  an environmental, social and corporate governance or ESG philosophy. That means they are mindful of the company's sustainability, including its effects on the environment and the broader society. According to the company’s website, the carbon emission in producing one kilogram of tiger nut milk is  less than 0.9 kg, far lower than the  3.2 kg in producing the same amount of cow’s milk. “Our society is becoming more concerned about our environment compared with the previous decade, and companies are embracing the idea of ESG as consumers are calling for more sustainable development,” said Davis Bookhart, Director of the Sustainability Office at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, A Hong Kong Consumer Council survey in 2023 found that 87% of consumers said they would be willing to pay an additional 5% or more for products or services that are environmentally friendly or sustainably produced. However, developing ESG is easier said than done for small to medium enterprises.  “The lack of talent is a major challenge for SMEs,” said Keith Chan, assistant professor of HKUST. “It will affect their ability to make their ideas financially feasible.” Edmund Chan said his company has  cooperated with experts from different fields, such as  product development, test and retailing. “If small businesses do things individually, it is like trying to speak up but …

Health & Environment

HK Red Cross uses technology to raise awareness on climate change

The second Red Cross City Challenge kicked off on March 2 in Kowloon District. The event embraced virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to better present the influence of climate change. Different from the previous event theme "Humanity City Challenge", which focused on the community services, this year’s theme is  "Rebuilding Lives, Rebuilding Homes". Participants need to race against time in the streets and alleys in Kowloon to find 60 designated checkpoints and complete various missions.  "Hong Kong Red Cross hopes that this event will encourage people to get involved in community activities to help the disadvantaged groups affected by climate change and disasters," said Ma Chak-wah, chairman of the organizing committee of the Red Cross City Challenge. The event is of a pro bono nature. After deducting administrative expenses, the funds raised from the event will be used to support various humanitarian services of the HKRC. Ma said that the event will include the use of AR technology to present participants in real-life scenes of homes stricken by extreme weather to create an experience of the huge impact of climate change in real life. This year, Hong Kong Red Cross co-branded with Snoopy™ and handed out gift bags filled with goodies of the cartoon dog. More than 2,500 people registered for the event, and about 70% of whom were young, Ma added. "I came to this event because Snoopy™ caught my eye," said Leung Sin-yee, a 17-year-old local student. "Hong Kong has also been frequently affected by extreme weather recently, and the theme of this event happens to be related to disasters. I want to learn from this event to better protect myself and help others," Liao said. Ma said that the Red Cross hopes to encourage more and more young people to understand and participate in disaster relief …

Society

Budget 2024 Key Takeaways: Careful balance of revenue and deficit to continue

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: AU YEUNG Jim、AO Wei Ying VinciEdited by: Juncong SHUAI
  • 2024-02-28

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po delivered the 2024-2025 Budget speech on Wednesday, announcing policies to strive for high-quality development while sustaining a solid economy. Top the list is the cancellations of property cooling measures, with Special Stamp Duty, Buyers’ Stamp Duty and New Residential Stamp Duty scrapped with immediate effect. For the coming fiscal year, the total government expenditure will increase by about 6.7% to HK$776.9 billion, while the total government revenue is estimated to be HK$633 billion. Chan expects that there will be a deficit of HK$48.1 billion for the year, and fiscal reserves will decrease to HK$685.1 billion. Here are the key takeaways of this year’s budget plan.  

Health & Environment

Budget 2024: Monthly fireworks may have limited effect on tourism but cause air pollution

Fireworks will be set off every month over Victoria Harbour in the coming year along with drone displays to attract visitors, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced in today’s budget speech.  Chan said last year's fireworks displayed along the waterfront in Victoria Harbour, Wan Chai and West Kowloon were all well received. "We will make full use of these valuable resources to provide a more engaging and diverse experience for the public and visitors,” he said. "Regular events are important to tourism," said Professor Chong Tai-leung, 55, executive director of Chinese University’s Lau Chor Tak Institute of Global Economics and Finance. "Monthly fireworks displays are a great way to attract foreign visitors from far and wide." “There are obviously more people visiting Hong Kong, especially on the second day of the Lunar New Year when people gather at Victoria Harbor to admire the fireworks,” said Peter Lo, 62, an electrical engineer, “it almost felt like the traffic flow before the pandemic.” But Lo does not believe that Hong Kong's tourism industry will bring sustained appeal. "There are only a few interesting attractions in Hong Kong, the fireworks won’t attract tourists for a second time."  "If it happens every month, I can choose a time that suits me better and avoid the severe rush during the New Year," said Cao Kailuo, 21, a mainland college student who plans to visit Hong Kong during his vacation. Sara Leung, chair of the Hong Kong Tourism Industry Employees General Union, told RTHK that she is not optimistic about fireworks and drone shows because many nearby areas are hosting similar events and visitors will lose the novelty.  "In fact, the government doesn't need to spend a lot of money on fireworks displays, they usually get sponsors to host them," Chong said. "For example, last year's …

Society

World’s First Hydrogen-powered Bus Hits the Road

Hong Kong’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus hit the road on Sunday, marking Citybus’ s first operation of zero-emission vehicles. The bus, running on Route 20, embarked on its first journey at 11 am from Kai Tak and arrived at  Cheung Sha Wan Terminal in around 40 minutes. The services ended at 8 pm. “The new hydrogen-powered bus has opened a new page of Hong Kong’s transportation development,” said Anson Li, the operations officer of Route 20.  The bus will operate six to eight trips  per day along Route 20 on the “Waterloo Road Line” through Kowloon City during its initial month, then gradually expanding the services to Routes 20A and 22M. The bus operated from and refueled at Hong Kong’s first hydrogen refueling station in the West Kowloon Depot. Li said the hydrogen-powered bus can be fully charged in only 10 to 20 minutes, much faster compared to the two to three hours required by an electric bus.   Over a hundred bus enthusiasts gathered to experience the rides. Among them, Lee Wan, 23, captured the moments of the last bus returning to the Kai Tak Terminal.   After the ride,  Wan said that the hydrogen bus was  more comfortable, as it ran more smoothly and was quieter. Citybus spent HK$ 8 million on producing the hydrogen double-decker bus, which emits only water after transforming the fuel into electricity to power the vehicle. “To me, I think the production costs are too high. It's well worth being rolled out on a large scale if the price can be lowered as the technology improves,” Wan said. Citybus launched the first electric double-decker bus in 2021. The company pledged to operate a complete fleet of zero-emission buses by 2045.      

Health & Environment

Brisbane faces Heaviest Rainfall since 2022 floods

  Brisbane faced its heaviest rainfall since the 2022 floods on Friday, as a tropical cyclone crossed the Northern Territory-Queensland border, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The Bureau reported that rainfall was 184 millimetres of rain in 24 hours. The downpour flooded streets, submerged cars and overflowed rivers. The cyclone is expected to continue through the weekend.  In the Brisbane suburb of Rosalie, 197 millimetres of rain was recorded and there were, 189 millimetres in Mt Cootha, 173 millimetres in Bowen Hills, and over 160 millimetres around the city this morning.  One fatality was reported when a woman's car was swept away by floodwaters at Malbon River, near Cloncurry Duchess Road, on Friday afternoon.  The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services told 7news that they received 58 calls for help between midnight and 8 a.m. due to floodwater and roofs collapsing.  In 2022, heavy rain in Brisbane killed at least 13 people and flooded more than 23,400 properties. The highest flood level reached 3.85 metres on Feb. 28, 2022, which was the second-highest level since the 4.46-metre peak recorded in 2011. In a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Brisbane City Councillor Fiona Cunningham said that residents were unable to receive weather alerts for hours after the first thunderstorm warning was issued. The city’s weather alert system, Weatherzone, was assured to be fixed after the technical error.  Naura Miyantari, a university student, experienced the flood while on her way to a class on Friday morning. She said that there was no clear warning about the weather conditions. Due to the heavy rainfall and flood, her plans for the day were delayed and cancelled.  “There were a few accidents down the road and road closures. The weather alert should have been more accurate in predicting the weather and alerting residents of …

Society

Waste-charging Scheme delayed to August

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: XIA Fan、ZHANG YipingEdited by: Ji Youn Lee、Yuqi CHU
  • 2024-01-24

The start date of the new waste-charging scheme based on the pay-as-you-throw principle was pushed back again by four months to Aug 1, announced Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan on Friday. The scheme was scheduled to start on April 1. The delay is to better explain the details and ease public confusion, Tse said in the press conference. Justina Chan, a street vendor selling socks in her 40s, said the scheme was a disturbance to her normal life. “When the day comes, I have no choice but to obey the rules. Though I would never say I support it from my heart,” said Chan. The scheme, initially proposed over two decades ago, seeks to address public awareness of recycling and reduce waste through a requirement for dumping rubbish with government-approved bags. Marcus Lo, 26, a government employee, said he agrees with measures for environmental protection, but is concerned over resistance. The price of the new government rubbish bags is HK$0.11 per litre. For bulky waste and large furniture, a "fee label" with a standardised price of HK$11 is required to be purchased. According to the Hong Kong Waste Reduction report, the disposal rate of Municipal Solid Waste was 1.51 kg per person per day in 2022. A family using a 10 or 15 litre government bag every day is likely to spend about HK$30 to HK$50 a month on the bags, compared to under $10 at the current price. Lo called for more attention being paid to the vulnerable groups. “If the government could put more effort into helping the low incomers, the enforcement process would be smoother as the new launch will drive up their living cost,” said Lo. The Finance Committee Procedure last December passed a bill giving a monthly subsidy of HK$10 to people receiving …

Society

Australians volunteer to conserve endangered species

  • By: Jayde Cheung、Tracy LeungEdited by: Jenny Lam
  • 2023-06-08

Native Australian animals are increasingly under threat as natural disasters fueled by a changing climate ravage their habitats. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 57,920 koalas left in the wild in 2022, possibly as few as 32,065. Koalas in the southern part of Australia face a threat of habitat loss because the woods and woodlands there are being destroyed for urban development and agriculture. Koalas are also killed in domestic dog attacks, bushfires and road accidents.  As a continent prone to a range of devastating natural hazards including bushfires, flooding and tropical cyclones, the government has committed to spend AU$2,300,000,000 (HK$11,740,000,000) on environmental preservation in the latest budget,  Up to AU$100,000,000 is specifically allocated to biodiversity preservation. People from all walks of life work together, some volunteer to be firefighters or animal rescuers, all with the aim of saving the country’s natural environment before it is too late.  In June 2019, a deadly fire swept across New South Wales and demolished 6.2% of the wildlife natural habitat. The country set aside AU$200,000,000 (HK$1,020,000,000) to restore the habitats, according to the Australian government’s website.  Jane Willcock is the senior registrar and museum operations coordinator at the University of Queensland.  “The koalas are too afraid in their place, and they are very picky about what they eat, so they are very difficult to accommodate,” Willcock explained. Financial and physical support since the woods were ignited in July 2019 put an end to the fatal bushfire that impacted three billion animals between 2019 and 2020, either killing them or reducing their homes to ashes, according to the data from World Wildlife Fund.  “My school had posters about koala-saving techniques all over the campus,” said Chong Yan, a veterinary student at the University of Sydney. The veterinary society she joined …