Global efforts toward the net zero transition are becoming increasingly urgent, especially in the face of worsening climate conditions.

Despite being a climate-resilient megacity in the world, Hong Kong is not spared from the impact of climate change.

Over the past few decades, there has been a noticeable intensification of hourly rainfall and a rapid increase in the number of very hot days and hot nights in Hong Kong. The city’s annual mean temperature also experienced an average rise of 0.28°C per decade between 1993 and 2022.

Last year, Hong Kong faced two natural disasters: Super Typhoon Saola and its longest Black Rainstorm alert ever, both of which had adverse impacts on its economic activities.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, under the intermediate and very high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenarios, the annual mean sea level in Hong Kong in 2100 is projected to rise by 0.37– 0.82 meters and 0.57 – 1.08 meters, respectively, relative to the average of 1995-2014.

Accelerating efforts to achieve goal by 2050

In pursuit of sustainable economic growth, the Hong Kong government has taken significant steps to enhance the city’s climate resilience and accelerate its efforts to achieve the net-zero carbon emission objective by 2050 through various strategies.

First, coal usage for electricity generation has been reduced. Hong Kong’s GHG emissions have declined since peaking in 2014, mainly attributable to a reduction in coal usage for electricity generation. The government halted construction of coal-powered generation units in 1997 and has been steadily phasing out existing units.

Second, efforts to promote the domestic adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) have intensified. As outlined in the Hong Kong Roadmap on the Popularisation of Electric Vehicles in March 2021, the government aims to achieve zero vehicular emissions by 2050. The government’s strong support measures, including tax concessions and subsidies for developing EV charging infrastructure, have contributed to the successful progression of domestic EV deployment.

Third, the government is actively working to develop the renewable energy sector. Despite geographical and environmental constraints, the government aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources in electricity generation from below 1 percent currently to 7.5-10 percent by 2035. Notable progress includes the increased share of solar energy in the electricity generation from renewable sources from around 2 percent in 2018 to 15 percent in 2021. Large-scale projects, such as a floating solar system at Plover Cove Reservoir with a capacity of 5 megawatts (MW) and a 10 MW solar farm in the South East New Territories Landfill, are expected to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Fourth, Hong Kong is positioning itself as a hub for green and sustainable finance (GSF). The government established a Green and Sustainable Finance Cross-Agency Steering Group in May 2020 and has promoted the development of green bond market through the Government Green Bond Program. In 2022, Hong Kong experienced a significant increase in green, social and sustainability (GSS+) debt issuance, exceeding USD80 billion, a year-on-year growth of over 40 percent. Over one-third of the Asian market’s GSS+ bond issuance was arranged in Hong Kong, with 70 percent allocated to green bonds.

Lastly, the government is planning to adopt international sustainability standards, including the Global Sustainability Disclosure Standards (IFRS S1) and Climate-related Disclosures (IFRS S2) issued by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). The primary objectives of adopting these international standards are to instill investor confidence in the green and environmental initiatives of Hong Kong-listed companies and to attract more investors to support Hong Kong’s journey toward achieving carbon neutrality.

In 2021, the government initiated the Climate Action Plan 2050, which outlines four decarbonization strategies: achieving net-zero electricity generation, promoting energy saving and green buildings practices, advancing green transport solutions, and implementing effective waste reduction measures.

With the government’s unwavering commitment and a strong collaboration with relevant stakeholders, Hong Kong is poised to successfully navigate the path toward net-zero emissions by 2050.


For more information on the recent developments in Hong Kong’s climate conditions, decarbonization efforts, and the associated policy implications, download AMRO’s recently published 2023 Annual Consultation Report on Hong Kong, China.