KAS RECAP Research Projects

Paris Watch 2019 & 2020
Partner: CarbonCare Innolab, Hong Kong
Duration: Dec 2019-Dec 2020

To follow up on Paris Watch 2018, the study tracks further Hong Kong’s performance in meeting the Paris Climate Change Agreement and compare it with other metropolitan cities in the region. This work continues to produce annual Hong Kong Climate Action Report and Hong Kong Report Card. As the project goes into Phase Two, it can identify positive and negative trends on climate action, adding longitudinal comparisons to the horizontal comparisons against other. 


Circular Food Systems in Cities
Partner: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (East Asia Secretariat)
Duration: Dec 2019-Dec 2020

The food waste management is a common and urgent challenge for many cities in the world. Its importance has been well recognized in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Best practices of effective measures to handle food waste at the consumer and producer level are necessary for cities in the region. The study will be a comparative analysis of highly urbanised cities in East Asia on the circularity of food system. It will map stakeholders and analyse their influence on food circularity. Policy suggestions and a guiding manual for particularly East Asian cities’ policy-makers will be included.


City-level Circularity Assessment for Hong Kong
Partner: Business Environment Council, Hong Kong
Duration: Dec 2019-Dec 2020

Circular economy seems to be one of the new models that can enable sustainable functioning of our society. It offers considerable benefits for environmental, economic and social resilience. However, awareness among various stakeholders remains low. The study aims to map the current state of the development of circular economy in Hong Kong. It qualitatively assesses and evaluates the current performance gap of Hong Kong and enables future progress tracking of the city’s transition to a circular economy, by using a set of indicators identified as material to the city’s context.


Study on Zero Waste Design Guidelines for Buildings
Partner: Business Environment Council, Hong Kong
Duration: Dec 2019-Dec 2020

A preliminary scoping study will be conducted to identify strategic opportunities on implementing a set of design guidelines for new and existing buildings that will facilitate waste reduction and map out key players in the buildings value chain necessary for the successful implementation of such guidelines. It further examines the role of building designs in achieving a circular economy in Hong Kong, a highly urbanized and dense metropolitan city. 



Survey on Trade Conflict: Its impacts on Energy Security and Decarbonization in Asia Pacific
Partner: GlobeScan
Duration: Oct 2019-Jan 2020

This thought leadership project focuses on the impacts of trade conflicts (specifically the U.S. – China trade conflict) on energy markets and decarbonisation in seven countries (Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan and South Korea) in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The suggested “decoupling” of the world’s two largest economies has far-reaching effects on the energy sector, and affects each country in different ways to a greater or lesser degree. The goal of this thought leadership study is to understand the implications of this ongoing trade conflict, positive and/or negative, on the efforts of APAC markets towards energy security and decarbonisation. The study draws upon the opinions of experts with local viewpoints to paint a picture of the perceptions of energy security and decarbonisation across the APAC region.


Energy Security in a Digitalised World: Geostrategic Implications
Partner: Dr. Frank Umbach, Research Director, European Centre for Energy and Resource Security, King's College London
Duration: Dec 2017-Jun 2018

Rapid digitalisation and the widespread use of information and communication technologies will fundamentally change basic assumptions about energy markets, business models, electric energy production and consumption patterns. The study deals with the impacts of digitalisation on energy economy and politics, and sheds light on fundamental trends. A focus is on geopolitical implications: How is the ongoing digitalisation affecting resource politics, diplomacy and security in different regions? To assess this question, the study analyses selected political strategies of China, Australia, Singapore, the EU and the US. Furthermore, the changes in existing business models for energy producers and consumers are discussed. Practical recommendations round up the study which is estimated to be published in summer 2018.


Cambodia’s Energy Transition Research Project
Partner: Enrich Institute, Cambodia
Duration: Feb 2017-2018

Cambodia needs comprehensive energy transition strategy. Its energy sustainability is at risk. Insufficient domestic energy production and poor physical infrastructure cause dependency, accessibility, reliability and affordability issues. The country relies largely on the import of fossil fuel, mainly diesel and heavy oil, for electricity production. Apart from Burma, Cambodia has the lowest electrification rate in the region—only half of its entire population has access to reliable electricity, while its electricity price is one of the highest in the world. The aim of this project is to help Cambodia develop an effective pathway to transform its energy sector from fossil fuel to more sustainable energy sources. The project will produce clear and coherent long-term policy package which include regulatory reform recommendation, institutional arrangement technology diffusion, and public and private investment strategy.


Powering the insular city: legacies of past energy security and autarky for current urban energy transitions
Partners: Dr Maria Francesch (Principal Investigator & Consultant KAS RECAP, Hong Kong); Dr Timothy Moss (Co-Investigator, Humboldt University, Germany)
Duration: Jan-Dec 2017
Result: Full-text Publication

The research project uses a comparative case study analysis of three Asian cities – Macau, Kota Kinabalu and Singapore – to explore the legacies of past energy autarky and security concerns for today’s attempts to realign urban energy systems to low carbon transitions. The study aims to show for each case how this came to be, what form energy autarky took, how this is being reordered following reunification and what impacts this historical legacy is having on today’s attempts at transition towards a low carbon city. As a cross-cutting theme for all three phases, the proposed project will conceptually and empirically explore the ambivalent and fluctual relationship between interests in energy security (supply side) on the one hand, and energy efficiency (demand side), on the other, and how this influences urban energy infrastructure policy.


The Economics of Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment: Developing the tools for making decisions on cost-effective solutions
Partner: Business Environment Council (BEC), Hong Kong
Duration: Jan-Dec 2017
Result: Energy Efficient Retrofits Guide

The project focuses on the built-environment identifying and providing figures as to the most cost-effective solutions for reducing energy usage. The aim is to produce an output that will enable sustainability managers to build a business case for action. The study uses the methodology of a marginal abatement cost curve, setting out the top 10-12 actions/technologies and payback periods and produces a simple visual graph showing what can be done, at what cost and to what effect. Some countries have done so for their whole economy. This project will focus on the demand-side of the built environment – essentially buildings energy efficiency – but focusing on key building types only (possibly offices and hotels, but exact scope to be decided at inception). It will also include supporting case studies.


Economic Instruments for Environmental Policy and Local Governance: A Public Policy Approach
Partners: Stratos Pourzitakis, Hong Kong Baptist University; Dr Aude Pommeret, City University of Hong Kong
Duration: Jan-Dec 2017

The study aims at analysing the trade-off between efficiency and political acceptability of constraining environmental polies against air pollution. The final objective is to contribute to the design of policies against air pollution that could really be implemented. Hence, the project seeks to examine the political process through which constraining environmental instruments are designed, implemented, and evaluated in major East Asian cities and in particular cities in China, Hong Kong and Japan. Towards this end it will study the role of local governments in the policy making process and specifically vis-a-vis constraining environmental instruments applied in Beijing, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. In addition, the work explores the possibility of expanding the research to Guangzhou and Osaka. Therefore, the research will answer the following questions:

  • What are the constraining environmental policies which are adopted in the examined cities?
  • What is the role of the local government in every stage of the policy making process and how is it shaped by the interaction between the national government and the local government?
  • What are the trade-offs between efficiency and political acceptability in the environmental policy choices made by local governments?
  • What is the role of special interest groups in every stage of the policy making process?
  • How distant are the undertaken environmental policies from the most efficient policies?
  • What is the best applicable policy for every city?


Challenges faced by the ASEAN Electricity Market Interconnection – Lessons learnt from International Experiences
Partner: Energy Studies Institute | National University of Singapore
Duration: Jan–Dec 2016
Result: Policy Brief

The topic of ASEAN electricity market integration has been discussed over the past three decades, yet regional cooperation and cross-border electricity trade remain limited. This study aims to identify the key prerequisites for interregional electricity trade and electricity market interconnection, which are missing from existing national electricity markets in the ASEAN region. Most of the domestic electricity markets in ASEAN member states are highly regulated, where major market participants are generally vertically integrated monopolies run by state owned power companies. Some critical questions need to be answered to support the merging of regional electricity markets, such as:​​​​​

  • How can the different regulatory frameworks among different countries be linked?
  • How can the possible negative impacts of market power of state owned power companies on regional cooperation in an interconnected electricity market be mitigated?
  • What conditions should be met before the member states can conduct practical cooperation and interconnection in the integrated electricity market?

Mapping the Climate Change and Energy Threats in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal
Partners: National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan; Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Sri Lanka; Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS); Centre for South Asian Studies, Nepal
Duration: Jan–Dec 2016
Result: Full-text Publication

Climate change is a major threat to South Asian and South East Asian countries. The poorest people of the region are at most risk due to climate change. The environmental change is causing high temperatures, extreme weather, sea level rise, intense floods, droughts, storms and other natural disasters in South Asia and South East Asia. Glacier melting in the Himalayas is severely affecting water resources and the sea-level rise is exacerbating inundation, storm surge, erosion and other coastal hazards in these regions.

The impact of climate change is not a problem of a single country rather it is a regional problem. Experts are concerned that a large portion of the low lying countries of South Asia and South East Asia can be submerged as a consequence of climate change and it may leave countless people as climate refugees. Specially, the coastal areas of the region are at risk of flooding from sea level rise, cyclones and other environmental hazards.

There is thus an urgent need for a comprehensive threat mapping of the critical vulnerabilities in the region so that we can come up with the right strategies to address the challenges.


Developing a Regional Platform on Energy Security in Northeast Asia - Implication of German Energy Transition in South Korea and China
Partners: Climate Change Center (South Korea); Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy of Tsinghua University (China)
Duration: Jan–Dec 2016

A new climate change agreement is probably agreed at UNFCCC COP21 in Paris. During the preparation process of COP21, the participation of those countries that had been so far not regulated by the Kyoto Protocol has been encouraged to tackle the climate change issues more efficiently. South Korea imports 97% of its primary energy and has a high energy demand due to its big manufacturing basis. Its economy heavily depending on the production sector and despite having already reached the highest level of energy efficiency in the world, the country is confronted with remarkable challenges of its energy and climate security.

On the other hand, China as the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide has announced ambitious emission reduction targets. But even according to the most optimistic scenarios, the amount of renewable energy will reach only 35 percent in 2050. Moreover, its energy intensity is still around 2 times higher than EU’s in 2011 (ABB, 2013). China therefore faces multiple threats in its energy security.

The study examines the implications of Germany’s Energy Transition and lesson to be drawn for North East Asia.


Transnational Climate Change Networks: New Forms of Authority or Mobilisation Mechanisms to Secure Consent?​​​​
Partners: Dr Maria Francesch (Principal Investigator, City University of Hong Kong), Ms Melissa Low (Co-Investigator, ESI Singapore), Dr Christopher Len (Co-Investigator, ESI Singapore), Dr Yolanda Yu Mengyan (Postdoctoral Fellow, City University of Hong Kong)
Duration: Jan–Dec 2016
Result: Full-text Publication

This study engages with debates about the potential of authority being decreed towards the distinct associational purpose of consensus by transnational climate networks that are established to generate a unity of purpose through the exchange of best climate mitigation practices. The study focuses on an aspect of the urban, governance, and diplomacy debates that relates to the significance of cities, specifically, the institutional and political role of Asian cities within transnational networks. It explores the experiences of two iconic Asian cities – Singapore and Hong Kong as members of transnational urban networks on climate change aspiring to set their activities there in the context of existing knowledge on transnational urban networks of climate change and to provide a pioneering study of Asian cities in these networks. More specifically, the study investigates how far these two cities, by ‘acting global’ through transnational networks, are ‘thinking urban’ in terms of advancing their own particular policy agendas within their own distinctive political and geographical contexts.


Dr. Christian Hübner


Head of the Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change Asia-Pacific

christian.huebner@kas.de +852 28822245