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In keeping with incorporating issues related to climate change in its professional education and research agenda, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) faculty and students have been supporting the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris in a number of ways.
First, Ms Alice Lam Hiu-tung, a graduate in environmental policy, Department of Public Policy (POL), was among other local young people whose opinions on climate change were included in the Climate Change Report released by the Hong Kong government’s Environment Bureau on 6 November.
The report comprises measures adopted by various government departments and corporations to deal with climate change.
Ms Lam joined Dr Maria Francesch, Assistant Professor (POL), at the launch of the report to exchange ideas on related polices with The Hon Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for Environment. They agreed that there is a need to nurture more accredited professionals in environmental policy.
Second, on invitation by Dr Francesch, five other CityU students majoring in environmental policy took part in a Simulation UN Climate Change Conference organised by the Hong Kong-America Centre and Asia Society and sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung (Germany) (KAS) in mid-November.
They were among a group of 50 undergraduates and graduates from universities in Hong Kong acting as delegates for nine country delegations simulating the UNFCCC Conference of Parties 21 in Paris.
After two days of lively debate, they reached a consensus and came up with a Hong Kong Draft Treaty that addresses the issue of global climate change.
“Their debate involved perspectives from a diverse range of academic disciplines such as science, law, geography, politics, and planning. A high level ability for verbal articulation, negotiation skills as well as committed to curb global warming were demonstrated by the students,” Dr Francesch, who acted as chair and advisor, said.
The students and their advisors will meet again on 15 December to hear a report on the Paris Conference results. A panel discussion moderated by Dr Tim Summers of Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs, comprising Dr Christine Loh Kung-wai, Undersecretary for Environment, the consuls general of France and Germany, and the European Union representative in Hong Kong, Mr Vincent Piket, will explore the Paris status report and evaluate the outcomes of COP21.
Dr Francesch encourages CityU students to join activities on climate change organised by the Hong Kong government and think tanks.
“Many of our students majoring in environmental policy are determined to join related industries upon their graduation. These extracurricular, innovative activities can strengthen students’ professional knowledge, and conversely, make them well-prepared to make contributions for resolving the problems related to climate change,” she said.
Third, as an environmental policy expert in the region, Dr Francesch was invited to be a speaker at a seminar organised by Chatham House on 19 November on the economics of energy and resources in Asia. Other speakers included Ms Hannah Routh from Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Ms Huang Chaoni from Trucost PLC, Mr Gavin Edwards from WWF-Hong Kong, and Mr Jefferson Edwards from Shell.
Dr Francesch received a grant of HK$450,000 from the KAS in April this year to conduct a research project titled “Transnational Climate Change Networks: New Forms of Authority or Mobilisation Mechanisms to Secure Consent?” CityU is one of the first recipients of the grant since KAS opened its new regional office, “Energy Security and Climate Change in Asia-Pacific”, in Hong Kong in March of this year.
“As we are part of the ecosystem, any natural and human-induced disturbances to the ecosystem, be it to the level of greenhouse gases, the quality of air, levels of noise or light, will no doubt affect our life quality. Through our research, we should therefore be engaged in providing policy solutions about environmental issues,” Dr Francesch said.
Finally, to address the growing necessity of accredited environmental professionals in Hong Kong and the greater Pearl River Delta Region, a group of leading environmental professionals launched on 24 November the Hong Kong Institute of Qualified Environmental Professionals Ltd. CityU was represented at the launch by Dr Francesch in her capacity as executive committee member of the Environmental Management Association of Hong Kong.