The Fifth Anniversary of Paris Agreement Conference was successfully held on 12 December 2020 (Sat) with over 100 audiences. Our Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Tracy Wong Harris, shared her thoughts on green finance along with other green finance experts in the second panel discussion.
Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which stands as the first ever-universal agreement on climate, was signed exactly 5 years ago. To celebrate this anniversary and echo the “Climate Ambition Summit” jointly organised by the United Nations, France and the United Kingdom (as the incumbent president of COP26) occurring on the same day, the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau organised a joint high-level conference in partnership with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), the Environment Bureau of Hong Kong Special Administration Region on 12 December 2020.
This conference aimed to put climate and the environment at the centre of the political agenda locally, by gathering political, institutional, business and NGO stakeholders. As a global player, France has taken a leading role in fighting climate change since 2015. In parallel, as a global academic hub, HKUST has stepped up its policy to support sustainable development in Hong Kong and beyond, through the establishment of the Institute for the Environment and implementation of ambitious initiatives on its campus.
The Secretary for Environment, Mr. KS Wong, the President of HKUST, Prof. Wei Shyy as well as the Consul General of France, Mr. Alexandre Giorgini, and the Representative of EU Office, Mr. Thomas Gnocchi delivered opening remarks. All of them stressed the need to further our effort to protect the environment. As the Consul general Giorgini put it: “As we remember the ‘Spirit of Paris’ and the international momentum that brought the Paris Agreement into force with currently 188 ratifying parties, we need to make sure we hold ourselves to the commitments we made 5 years ago. Time is already running out. Continuing rising temperatures are fuelling extreme weather events, and the global pandemic that we are facing underlines the importance of science, solidarity and decisive actions in the wake of global threats. Let’s make the post-pandemic recovery an opportunity to a more resilient future on a healthy planet”.
Sustainable building and green finance were the two main topics addressed within the conference. The first panel discussed the concept of “Living Building” and the challenges to meet for its implementation, under the moderation of Prof. King Yeung, director of the France-HKUST Innovation Hub. “We have more and more extreme weather events. Sea level is rising. In the same time, it is a city of the size of Beijing which is landing on Earth every month. We all need to act responsibly using new technologies, materials for construction and business models to develop and build a sustainable world for our future generations” argued Mr. Pierre-Eric Saint-André, CEO of Dragages and President of the French Chamber.
The second panel focused on green and sustainable finance, and its role as a driver to support the environmental transition. The representatives of the participating banks agreed on the fast-growing pace of the sector over the five past years. Ms. Tracy Wong Harris, Deputy Secretary General, Hong Kong Green Finance Association also stressed the key positioning of Hong Kong, adding that “China’s carbon neutrality target by 2060 followed by Hong Kong’s policy address of achieving net-zero by 2050, presents trillions of dollars of low-carbon investment opportunities in the region. Innovative green and sustainable finance is a core enabler to achieve these net-zero targets. Hong Kong as a leading international finance centre is strategically placed as the bridge between local and international investors to unlock these green and sustainable finance opportunities.”
HKUST and France enjoy a strong cooperation relationship, which has blossomed further over the years with the creation in 2018 of the “France-HKUST Innovation Hub” to promote scientific communication and cooperation. This conference will be labelled as the inaugural ‘Innovation Hub Rendez-Vous’, a new quarterly-meeting format involving Hong Kong and French figures from science and technology.