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Northeast Asia

Hong Kong aims for Asia’s green crown

Hong Kong must improve its environmental track record and rally the private sector if it is to succeed in its ambition of becoming Asia’s leading centre for green finance.

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The Hong Kong government’s plan to use some of the proceeds of a $1 billion green bond to build a controversial incinerator project potentially threatens not only the city’s ability to meet its climate targets but also its future as a centre for green finance.

“They [are using] the green bond money to build an incinerator” for solid waste and for the construction of a treatment facility, says Lawrence Iu, head of climate change and partnerships at Hong Kong think tank Civic Exchange. “That is not on the right track.”

This and other projects hurt Hong Kong’s green credentials, Iu says.

Hong Kong is one of Asia’s most important financial hubs, and can leverage its long-standing credentials in finance and its close links to the mainland Chinese markets. But even though it attracts capital and lists green debt products that are sold in the region, Hong Kong’s track record on the environmental front leaves much to be desired. Critics question whether it deserves its reputation as Asia’s leading centre for green finance, and ask whether it is doing enough to achieve its net zero goals by the target date of 2050.

Hong Kong’s actions are “definitely not enough,” says Iu, citing the example of the incinerator, which is expected to be fully commissioned by 2025.

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