The government of Hong Kong has joined an initiative that pledges support for green bonds, as part of a response from industry and investors to work towards the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement - which seeks to limit climate change to some 1.5C.
The HK Special Administrative Region becomes the first Asian signatory to the Green Bond Pledge, with a spokesperson for the government stating that "Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2030+ has set out our 2030 target, which is to reduce Hong Kong's carbon intensity by between 65% and 70%, compared with the 2005 level. We are sparing no efforts to make this happen."
Similarly, a spokesperson for Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau of the HKSAR government, noted that the pledge formed part of the ongoing efforts to turn the SAR into a regional hub for green finance, saying that the government is "committed to fostering a robust green bond market in Hong Kong"
"We welcome like-minded issuers to arrange financing for their green projects through our deep and liquid capital markets. Amongst other incentive measures to promote the development of green finance in Hong Kong, we have launched the government Green Bond Programme to encourage more issuers to arrange financing for their green projects through capital markets in Hong Kong and grow the local green investor base."
The Green Bond Pledge is a joint initiative developed by international climate finance and sustainability groups, including the Climate Bonds Initiative, Mission2020, CERES, CDP, Citizens' Climate Lobby, California Governor's Office, California Treasurer's Office, Global Optimism, NRDC and The Climate Group.
Launched by ex-UN climate-chief Christiana Figueres at the Climate Bonds Annual Conference in March 2018, the Pledge calls on signatories to support long-term infrastructure and capital projects that address environmental impact and climate risk, and issue green bonds to finance low carbon transition. Signatories agree to support the rapid growth of a green bonds market consistent with global best practices and will issue bonds for infrastructure as green bonds whenever applicable.
Issuer signatories include US State Treasurers of California, New Mexico and Rhode Island, Government of Mexico City, the Cities of Asheville and San Francisco, King County, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Supporter signatories include Australian pension fund LGS Super and Luxembourg Green Exchange - LGX, which currently lists some 260 bonds, with a volume of more than $130bn (€116bn).
Sean Kidney, CEO, Climate Bonds Initiative, said: "We are very pleased that the HKSAR government has joined the Green Bond Pledge. Hong Kong has been one of the pioneering cities in Asia to adopt and develop green finance. In 2018, the HKSAR government announced its HKD100bn (€11.2bn) sovereign green bond programme which is one of the world's largest, demonstrating its leadership and commitment to a low carbon economy."
"We look to more financial institutions and cities in Asia and the Pacific to follow suit in signing the Green Bond Pledge and accelerating green and climate finance initiatives."