Hong Kong’s lifestyle and strategic position in the market is taking its toll on the environment, no thanks to its high level of consumption and massive imports. Studies show that Hong Kong’s per capita carbon footprint could be as high as 29 tons, only lower than Luxembourg, in a study of the economies of 73 countries and territories by Norway-based scientists.
/>A carbon footprint is defined as the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event or product. Since the measurement will be based on per person basis and not by total volume per country, small territories ranked more prominently in the research paper “Carbon Footprint of Nations: A Global, Trade-Linked Analysis”.
/>Luxembourg – 33 tons (population: 487, 751)
/>Hong Kong – 29 tons (population: 6,977,700)
/>United States – 28.6 tons (population: 304,059,724)
/>Singapore – 24.1 tons (population: 4,839,400)
/>Australia – 20.6 tons (population: 21,374,000)
/>Canada – 19.6 tons (population: 33,311,389)
/>Switzerland – 18.4 tons (population: 7,630,605)
/>Finland – 18.0 tons (population: 5,312,800)
/>The Netherlands – 16.7 tons (population: 16,443,289)
/>Belgium – 16.5 tons (population: 10,703,957)
/>Most of Hong Kong’s footprint output is coming from imports and trades; only 17 per cent of it involves domestic activities. That makes me think that if recession persists and business activities (import, export, etc) tumble, carbon footprint should be smaller than when economy is doing well.
/>Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department has its own inventory but its official number is way below at 6.7 tons per capita. The EPDs formula does not include emissions derived from production of imported goods which explains the big difference.
/>While it seems that a large country like China – ten times lower per capita emission than Hong Kong – has better record than the SAR, it’s not surprising to see smaller territories like Hong Kong, Singapore and Luxembourg on the top ladder. Big countries have the capability to be self-sufficient on many products while smaller countries depend on imports. Such activities inflate the volume of emission.
Computing emission output is definitely more complicated than it seems. What about if Hong Kong imports a lot of leather from mainland China but eventually the output products are eventually shipped away for export? As residents, if we do our part no matter how little: minimize on electricity, less wasteful food when dining and shutting down computers when we leave work, we can reduce Hong Kong’s dubious emission ranking.