Renewable energy technology is developing at bullet-train speed in Hong Kong and Mainland China, where preparations for the upcoming COP28 United Nations Climate Change conference in the United Arab Emirates in late November are on the fast track.
COP28 marks the 28th edition of the event, established following the Rio Summit in 1992. Among previous editions, COP21 gave rise to the Paris Agreement, while COP26 in Glasgow was often referred to as the business COP, since leading global investors adopted decisive green stances following the event. COP27 last year was also in the Middle East, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
In the run up to this year’s summit, leading green finance think tank, the Beijing-based Institute of Finance and Sustainability (IFS), unveiled a global initiative on sustainable finance capacity building for emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) at a conference during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in October.
The Capacity-Building Alliance of Sustainable Investment (CASI) aims to provide quality learning programmes to support countries to develop sustainable finance in the ASEAN, Central Asian, African, the Middle East and Latin American regions.
CASI will be formally launched at an event in Dubai during COP28 and is set to be operational early next year.
Dr Ma Jun, President of the IFS and former Co-Chair of the G20 Sustainable Finance Working Group (SFWG), highlighted the importance of capacity building to unlock sustainable capital in the Global South.
“The lack of technical capacity is a key impediment to mobilisation of private sector financing for climate actions and sustainability in EMDEs. In 2023, the G20 SFWG made capacity building one of its top priorities and called upon international communities to step up efforts on capacity building and technical assistance for the developing world,” Dr Ma said.
In response to a G20 proposal, CASI plans to use more effective and innovative methods to deliver and distribute aggregated knowledge and best practices from member institutions via multiple channels.
The Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA) is a CASI member organisation, along with other major players in the sustainable finance market, including the IFS, Silk Road Fund, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (HKMA IFFO), HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and investment manager Neuberger Berman, all of which have confirmed participation in CASI as founding members.
A further 28 member institutions, including platforms under international organisations, universities, associations, NGOs, think tanks and professional service providers have joined CASI as knowledge providers and distribution channels. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is among the founding batch of members of CASI as a knowledge partner and distributor.
CASI will offer in-person training and online learning programmes to a broad audience, including regulators, financial institutions, corporates and services providers from EMDEs, addressing key bottlenecks in these markets, such as green taxonomy, sustainability disclosure, financial products, policy incentives, carbon markets and origination of green projects.
Dr Ma explained further that “CASI is version 2.0 of the IFS-hosted Global Green Finance Leadership Program (GFLP), which, over the past five years, has already organised and supported more than 30 global capacity-building events, covering over 4,500 participants from 70 countries.”
Noting the urgent need for SMEs to adopt ESG policies in line with their clients’ requirements, the HKTDC's Transformation Sandbox (T-box) business support programme earlier this year launched a programme of comprehensive resources to guide them through the green regulatory maze and help SMEs with their green transformation.
This year’s Eco Expo Asia, co-organised by the HKTDC and Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd last month, also dealt extensively with low-carbon technologies.
The Green Transportation zone showcased a variety of new energy vehicles and related equipment, including hydrogen-powered container trucks and garbage trucks exhibited by Wisdom Motors (HK) Limited. Huawei International Co. Limited also introduced the latest models of charging piles at the expo, enabling electric vehicles to fully charge within just 10 minutes, thereby enhancing the convenience of electric vehicle usage and promoting the development of new energy transportation.
East Asia and the Pacific draw the lion’s share of the world’s renewable energy investment, 66%, followed by Europe and North America which account for 12% each. Within Asia, Hong Kong is the leading green finance hub, responsible for 35% of green and sustainable bond issuance in Asia.