SDG13 Climate Action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Photo Credit: Project Ha Giang 2019
Improve water quality by restricting greenhouse gas emissions
Our researchers from the Department of Earth Sciences and Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) researched the effects of anthropogenic emissions and water quality.
Nitrogen is one of the common greenhouse gases that is produced from fossil fuel burning and fertilizer production. An excessive amount of nitrogen in the atmosphere could lead to the formation of smog, acid rain and contribute towards global warming. Moreover, excessive presence of nitrogen in water could lead to eutrophication which lowers the dissolved oxygen content at the bottom of the ocean, constant reductions of dissolved oxygen will lead to hypoxia, a state where most organism will not be able to sustain normal activities due to extremely low oxygenation levels. Hence, economic activities such as fisheries, are severely affected by hypoxia.
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The team studied the relationship between ocean oxygen content, atmospheric emissions of NOx and the deposition of nitrogen oxides in four major Chinese coastal seas. The findings showed that atmospheric deposition can contribute towards 15% of the total amount of organic matter found in the bottom ocean, which means the reduction of NOx emissions can decrease the area of hypoxic zones. Therefore, emission reduction will benefit the ocean ecosystem as well as the economic activities that rely on the ocean.
Engagement and Outreach
Long-term Decarbonisation Strategy Public Engagement
HKU has been playing an active role in the development of the Long-term Decarbonisation Strategy developed by the Council for Sustainable Development. Our Policy for Sustainability Lab (PSL) under the Centre for Civil Society and Governance was commissioned as the Programme Director to design and carry out the public engagement process to collect public views on the strategy. The PSL engaged over 4,000 members of the public, advisory and statutory bodies through a series of regional forums, youth forum, school outreach and briefing sessions. The engagement sessions provided an important platform to collect public and stakeholder views on the strategy as well as arousing their awareness of carbon emissions. The findings of this engagement exercise were reported to the Government.
Teaching, Learning and Students Activities
Courses and programmes
Climate change places a serious impact on the world’s ecological systems and requires global collaborations to mitigate its effects. HKU introduced climate change theories and history to our students through various courses. For example, Global change: Anthropogenic Impacts discusses the role of humans in causing climate change as well as environmental responses. Another course, Weather, Climate and Climate Change looks into the physical principles of climate change and its impact on weather and climate.