The opening of Hong Kong’s first hydrogen fuelling station and debut of a hydrogen-powered public bus in the city took place at the same time as this year’s Asian Logistics, Maritime and Aviation Conference (ALMAC), a point picked up by several delegates.
Organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), ALMAC this year was themed Future-proofing Supply Chains: Diversification, Decarbonisation, Digitalisation.
Transport fuels account for the bulk of the logistics sector’s carbon emissions and while battery electric vehicles have been in the limelight for many years, hydrogen raised its head at this year’s conference.
Yonghai Du, General Manager, Green Living and Innovation at the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC), told the first Supply Chain Management and Logistics Forum session – ESG Essentials: Navigating the Future of Supply Chain session – that the refuelling station opening showed the city had entered the hydrogen era.
Hong Kong had achieved peak carbon in 2014 and aimed to be carbon neutral by 2050, he noted. To deal with the problem of “carbon leakage”, where firms outsourced high-emissions activities to other economies, the European Union would soon deploy the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), obliging importers to buy CBAM certificates to cover carbon costs embedded in their products. This presents massive opportunities and challenges for the entire logistics industry.
At the second Supply Chain Management and Logistics Forum session – The 3D’s Supply Chain: Decarbonisation, Decentralisation, Digitalisation – Suzanne Cheung Head of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, said the company tried to source sustainable products as far as possible and sought green transport options.
Electrical or hydrogen trucks were very much in the early stages, she pointed out, with Hong Kong’s first hydrogen fuelling station having only just opened.
At the Power Dialogue: Embracing Sustainable Supply Chains for the Future Trade session, Andrew Clennett, Co-Founder and CEO of Hiringa Energy, had worked to bring hydrogen to the forefront in the energy transition in New Zealand and Australasia, bridging new energy models with the existing incumbent industries and building partnerships across sectors.
He said that ending the present transport fleet’s dependence on fossil fuels presented great opportunities and challenges. Existing technologies were 150 years old and there was a need for a step by step approach, applying new technologies wherever they are applicable.
“For example, if we convert a trucking fleet to hydrogen, we need to apply the change to the most heavily used trucks to obtain returns on an expensive asset,” Mr Clennet said.
Time scales were lengthy – New Zealand planned to decarbonise turbo-prop aircraft by 2035 – but they needed to start immediately and aimed for the first commercial flight to be made by 2028.
Planners also needed to consider the entire ecosystem. There was no use having a network of hydrogen filling stations, if there were no hydrogen trucks to use them, plus an associated service sector.
Walter van Hattum, Head of Trade and Economic Section at the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao, said the EU was the top trade partner for 72 economies and trade policy could play a major role in advancing sustainability.
The EU also sought to deploy CBAM, gradually applying the same carbon standards on imported goods as they did on domestic manufacturers. Initially they would concentrate on industries with high carbon emissions such as cement, iron and steel, aluminium and fertiliser.