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Hong Kong Has Second Highest Carbon Footprint

December 1, 2009

High consumption patterns and enormous volume imports have ranked Hong Kong as having the second highest carbon footprint per capita in the world, according to a recent study.

A team of Norway-based scientists compared the greenhouse emissions of 73 economies and found that Hong Kong has a per capita footprint of 29 tons per year, right behind Luxembourg’s 33 tons.

The findings led to the city of seven million being called on to ramp up measures to reduce greenhouse emissions, reported AFP.

The research paper titled “Carbon Footprint of Nations: A Global, Trade-linked Analysis”, was published in the June edition of the Environmental Sciences and Technology Journal. However, the public was unaware of the results until Monday, when they were reported by the daily South China Morning Post.

Based on global data from 2001, the study found Hong Kong’s carbon footprint to be among the highest, exceeding the United States’ 28.6 tons, Singapore’s 24.1 tons and United Kingdom’s 15.4 tons.

The bulk of the environmental impact is a result of the manufacturing and transportation of imported goods, with only 17 percent of emissions from domestic activities.

The numbers reported from the study are significantly higher than what was released by the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, 6.7 tons per capita, which took into consideration local emissions, including those from transport and power generation, yet it excludes emissions from the production of imported goods.

While declining to comment on the statistics, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Department insisted that the government follows international guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Bill Barron, a professor from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Institute for the Environment, the government needs to deal with the issue.

“Hong Kong is an economy that is extremely dependant on trade. Therefore the city is tied to the ecological footprints that these imports make,” Barron said.

He also added that the government is avoiding its obligation to cut greenhouse emissions.

In recent years, pollution has become a growing health and economic problem for the southern Chinese factory belt, and the combination of emissions from the southern Chinese factory belt across Hong Kong’s northern border and local emissions from power generators and transport have created a thick haze over the city for most of the year.

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