Speech by CS at launching ceremony of University-Government-Industry Consortium

Speech by CS at launching ceremony of University-Government-Industry Consortium (English only) (with photos/video)
    Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the launching ceremony of the University-Government-Industry (UGI) Consortium today (July 6):

Timothy (President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Professor Timothy Tong), Professor Teng (Chairman, Management Committee of the UGI Consortium, Professor Jin-guang Teng), Madam Qiu Hong (Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), Isabel (former Deputy Mayor for Transport, London, Ms Isabel Dedring), Andrew (President of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences, Dr Andrew Chan), distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

    It is a great pleasure for me to join you today at the launch of the University-Government-Industry Consortium. When my former colleague C S Wai informed me earlier this year of this initiative, aimed at facilitating regular communication and collaborative research amongst the three parties, my immediate response was this is a very good idea. To have such a consortium initiated by Hong Kong professionals and established in Hong Kong clearly demonstrates our aspiration to become a platform for providing sustainable urban development and reflects our passion for building a sustainable and quality city. As the Secretary for Development in the last term of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR Government, I definitely share such passion and aspiration.

    Indeed, as one of the world's most densely populated cities, it is no exaggeration to say that Hong Kong is the perfect venue for this new initiative to take root and for exchanging views and experience about sustainable urban development. Put simply, our passion and aspiration are grounded in our conviction in balanced development and our pursuit for excellence.

    Like many mature metropolitan cities in other parts of the world, Hong Kong is facing a number of changing circumstances and challenges including the evolving global and regional dynamics, a rapidly ageing population, pressing demand for housing, economic activities and community facilities, as well as a growing aspiration for more living space and better quality of life. All these challenges call for innovative solutions.

    It is therefore encouraging to see this tripartite platform founded today by six of our universities, 10 government departments and 20 industry organisations with a shared vision to develop and implement technologies and systems to fully realise Hong Kong's potential in a sustainable way, and to contribute to sustainable urban development in the Mainland.

    Development of a low-carbon sustainable city is a multifaceted endeavour. I would like to focus on three aspects of work with recent initiatives contributing to this global agenda, and they are smart city, green transport and green buildings.

Smart City

    It is our vision to develop this compactly built city into an efficient, practical and smart metropolis. Kowloon East is our testing ground for this. We aim to transform the district into a sustainable business core that befits the concept of sustainability by making use of smart data and technology, creating a low-carbon green community and enhancing walkability and mobility. The Energizing Kowloon East Office is undertaking a consultancy study to chart the way forward. Our newly established Innovation and Technology Bureau will provide the necessary inputs. We welcome advice from experts of this Consortium on the possible solutions and collaboration opportunities to take forward this smart city development.

    Kowloon East comprises the Kai Tak development area and the regeneration of two adjacent former industrial areas - Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay. Steered through the Energizing Kowloon East initiative I launched in 2011, Kowloon East has demonstrated how a holistic, integrated, people-oriented and place-making approach has tremendous potential for sustainable urban development. As we embark on new development areas in the northern parts of the New Territories, at Kwu Tung, Fanling North and Hung Shui Kiu, that same smart city approach should be embraced. The potential for quality and sustainable development should also not be overlooked in our urban regeneration efforts. So I look to C S Wai, who has recently assumed the position of the Managing Director of the Urban Renewal Authority, to play a leadership role in such endeavours.

Green Transport

    The transport sector accounts for about 17 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emissions. To improve our urban living conditions, we have developed a well-connected, comprehensive and inter-modal public transport system. Each day, about 90 per cent of passenger journeys - around 12 million trips - are taken care of by public transport. The majority of the emissions come from fossil fuel usage in commercial diesel vehicles and petrol-driven private cars. Under an HK$11 billion initiative to phase out pre-Euro IV commercial diesel vehicles, over 42 000 such vehicles have been removed from our roads, bringing noticeable improvements to our air quality.

    For environmental and economic reasons, it is our policy to use railways as the backbone of our passenger transport system and to integrate transport and land use planning. To expand the transport infrastructure, we are taking forward three Mass Transit Railway lines and the cross-boundary express rail link that will connect Hong Kong to the national high-speed rail grid. Upon their completion by 2021, our railway network will cover more than 270 kilometres and areas inhabited by more than 70 per cent of the population.

    But our transport network development does not stop here. The Railway Development Strategy 2014 recommended that seven other railway projects be implemented by 2026. When these are completed, the total length of the railways will increase to over 300 kilometres and cover areas inhabited by 75 per cent of the local population and 85 per cent of workplaces of our population. The share of rail transport patronage will then rise to some 45 per cent to 50 per cent of public transport modes by 2031.

    In parallel, the Government will continue to manage the private car fleet size and improve co-ordination of different modes of public transport to suit passenger demand, minimise wasteful competition and avoid duplication of resources. A good example is the joint efforts with bus operators since 2013 on bus routes rationalisation to enhance network efficiency, ease traffic congestion and reduce roadside air pollution. By the end of 2015, a total of 30 bus routes with low patronage were cancelled or merged with other routes. Some 250 routes have been truncated or had their frequencies reduced.

    We are also keen to promote the wider use of electric vehicles (EVs) as they have no tailpipe emissions. The Financial Secretary chairs a high-level Steering Committee on the Promotion of EVs to draw up an overall strategy to complement specific measures to promote the use of EVs in Hong Kong. Key measures implemented include waiving the first registration tax, allowing enterprises which procured EVs to enjoy profits tax deduction, establishing a HK$300 million Pilot Green Transport Fund, and allocating HK$180 million for franchised bus companies to purchase single-deck electric buses for trial runs.

Green Buildings

    But it is in buildings that some of my efforts as the Secretary for Development are bearing fruits. Buildings in Hong Kong consume 90 per cent of our electricity and thus account for 60 per cent of our greenhouse gas emission. The enhancement of the environmental performance of our building stock is therefore key to promoting a sustainable built environment.

    We have implemented a range of policies and measures to improve the environmental performance of our building stock including legislation, incentive programmes and government leadership.

    To enhance the energy efficiency performance of buildings, we have already implemented legislation to require new buildings and buildings that are undergoing major retrofitting to comply with minimum energy efficiency standards. Hotels and commercial buildings are further required to comply with a statutory standard to reduce heat transfer through building envelopes, and thereby saving energy consumption for air-conditioning. The mandatory standards are developed with reference to the latest developments in technology and practices and are subject to regular reviews. We are also an international pioneer in requiring commercial building owners to carry out mandatory energy audits once every 10 years, and to publish the audit results.

    To take the lead, the Government has set specific electricity reduction targets for some 8 000 government buildings and has cut energy use by 15 per cent over the past 12 years, and is now working towards a further 5 per cent saving by 2020 using 2014 as the base year. We also require all newly built government buildings to obtain at least the second highest grade under the Building Environmental Assessment Method Plus rating system - BEAM Plus in short - operated by the Hong Kong Green Building Council. Up to now, some 80 government building projects have received BEAM Plus certification.

    To encourage the private building sector to take part in improving the performance of private buildings, we have promulgated a set of Sustainable Building Design Guidelines under which developers may obtain gross floor area (GFA) concessions in new buildings by incorporating sustainable design elements and providing eco-related information. We have also promoted the BEAM Plus system by requiring all new private buildings to register for BEAM Plus certification in order to obtain bonus GFA for certain green features. Up till now, about 700 private development projects have gone through or registered for such certification.

    Our journey in promoting green buildings in Hong Kong is, in my view, a very good case I often deploy to illustrate Hong Kong's can-do spirit. My awakening to the importance of energy efficiency in buildings started in 2008 when I led a Hong Kong delegation to attend the World Sustainable Building Conference in Melbourne. I came home with the idea that we should take a bigger step in this aspect and in less than a year's time, the Hong Kong Green Building Council under the helm of its inaugural chairman Dr Andrew Chan was up and running. In the few years that followed, we introduced policy measures, updated legislation, created Hong Kong's first Zero Carbon Building, enhanced the BEAM mechanism and put in place other related measures. In 2011, we were in the subsequent World Sustainable Building Conference held in Helsinki sharing our vision and actions. I am therefore extremely gratified that Hong Kong will host the next World Sustainable Built Environment Conference next year. Such experiences have given me the confidence that as long as Government sets a clear goal, displays the needed leadership, mobilises support from related professionals and engages the public, we will continue to excel.

Climate Change

    We must now adopt a similar mindset and approach in tackling a global issue head-on, and that is climate change. We are mindful about the significant impact of the extreme weather conditions caused by climate change in our society, our economy as well as our daily life.  

    Climate change is high on the Government's policy agenda. We have implemented a wide range of measures to combat climate change including some of those I mentioned earlier that enable Hong Kong to become climate ready. My colleagues David, Christine and C K will discuss with you later today in greater detail the relevant policy work as well as the areas that the Government may strengthen collaboration with the private sector and the academia.

    In recognition of the imminent need to step up climate action and to draw up long-term policies, the Steering Committee on Climate Change has been set up, and its members are drawn from 13 policy bureaux and government departments. I personally chair this committee and will host a stakeholder engagement forum next Tuesday to gauge the views of key players on combating climate change. We plan to draw up an enhanced climate change work plan and set a carbon reduction target for Hong Kong by the end of this year.


    Ladies and gentlemen, what I have described in this address is just a glimpse of the strong emphasis that the Hong Kong SAR Government puts on sustainable urban development. Our ultimate objective is to design and produce a strategic vision that befits Hong Kong's landscape, population and development needs that can stand the test of time and remain resilient in an ever-changing world.

    The University-Government-Industry Consortium has brought together the best and most creative minds of this very important subject of sustainable urban development. I have every confidence that the Consortium's work will bear fruits and will provide Hong Kong with innovative and smart solutions to help us make this city that we love and call home a better, more habitable and more sustainable place to live. I am also confident that this good work and experience can be shared with our counterparts in the Mainland and even the new markets along the Belt and Road Initiative that are awaiting us to explore.

    In closing, let me take this opportunity to invite all Consortium members and participants today to take part in the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference to be held in Hong Kong in 2017, the year when Hong Kong will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The theme of the Conference is "Transforming Our Built Environment through Innovation and Integration: Putting Ideas into Action", which precisely meets the objective of the Consortium to develop and implement technologies and systems for smart and sustainable cities.

    Finally, my heartfelt thanks to all founding members of the Consortium for your foresight and dedication, and my best wishes for its success in the years to come.

    Thank you very much.
Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:59