Red Cross first as NGOs see light in solar fix
The Red Cross has installed solar panels on its rooftop to generate energy as the government helps non-governmental organizations to go green, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said.
The social welfare sector should play a part in reducing carbon emissions with the government having set the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, Law wrote in his blog yesterday.
This year's budget has seen HK$150 million set aside to allow non-governmental organizations supported by the Social Welfare Department to conduct energy audits and install energy-saving appliances free.
"Energy-saving appliances, such as inverter air-conditioners and LED lights, can be installed in non-governmental organizations under the budget plan," Law said.
The plan will be executed by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and Environment Bureau, with the help of the Social Welfare department.
Another project, Solar Harvest, was launched two years ago to promote the development of local renewable energy. Eligible schools and NGOs are offered help to install solar panels for free.
"Hong Kong Red Cross joined the first batch of the program," Law said. "The government installed a solar panel power generation system on the rooftop of its headquarters, which is connected to the electricity supply network for the whole building."
Not only can installing such systems help reduce carbon emissions, he said, but NGOs can also sell the renewable energy they generate to power companies at a rate as high as five times more than the normal electricity tariff rate under the feed-in tariff scheme.
Separately, the department also requires NGOs to adopt green building designs and renewable energy as much as possible in reconstruction.
The Kai Nang Integrated Rehabilitation Services Complex in Kwun Tong that was reconstructed two years ago was one example. Another was the Integrated Rehabilitation Services Complex at the former Siu Lam Hospital in Tuen Mun.
Law said the effects of climate change can be felt in daily occurrences. He recalled when he was in university in the 70s, cotton trees fully bloomed in May.
"Due to climate change, cotton trees bloom earlier nowadays," Law said. "Flowers have already fallen on the ground at the end of February."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2018 that global annual emissions need to be halved from current levels by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Net emissions should be reduced to zero by about 2050.
In 2017, Hong Kong released the Climate Action Plan 2030+ and committed to peak carbon emissions by 2020 and to reduce them by a third from 2005 levels by 2030.
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