Civil Society

Commentary from the staff of Hong Kong-based public policy think tank Civic Exchange.
China consumer growth
December 20, 2012
At the Climate Change Conference, held in Doha earlier this month, United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Governments to “accelerate action” to ensure global temperatures do not rise above two degrees Celsius. Beyond this point there is strong consensus in the scientific community that climate change would result in severe human costs through, inter alia, rising sea levels and widespread droughts. As a powerhouse behind the global economy, and as the world’s largest polluter, China, and more specifically its megacities must be at the center of these efforts.
Hairy nose pollution protection
December 11, 2012
It is one of those embarrassing things that happen from time to time – finding one or two nose hairs poking out of your nose while you are in the company of others. There’s nothing you’d want more than to get your hands on a trimmer and remove it instantly. If you are living in a choking city like Hong Kong, however, you’d be better off keeping your nose hairs and let them grow - they are your first line of defense against air pollution.
Cycle path in Hong Kong
November 29, 2012
The health benefits of regular physical exercise have long been known. As Plato said circa 380 BC: “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” Cycling, in particular, is an efficient way for people to exercise, especially if integrated into people’s everyday lives. This could include cycling to the train station as part of a commute to work or cycling to a shopping mall on the weekend.
Kai Tak Metropark
November 08, 2012
Hong Kong’s new government recently averted another political firestorm when it shot down its own trial balloon proposing last-minute changes to development plans for the former Kai Tak Airport. The waterfront site in the heart of densely built-up East Kowloon has lain largely dormant since the old airport closed in 1998. In July, the new Chief Executive CY Leung came to office promising to tackle Hong Kong’s soaring home prices, and his administration indicated that Kai Tak’s plans would be reviewed with an eye to boosting the housing supply.
PRD 2020 vision
November 01, 2012
According to the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) for 2008 -2020, formulated by the National Development and Reform Commission, cities in the PRD are progressively converging into one urban cluster, forming the most densely populated urban corridor in China. The nine prefectures in the region were home to 56.15 million people at the end of 2010, according to the Guangdong Statistic Book 2010. Given that Guangzhou alone expects to have 20 million people by 2020, it is entirely possible the total population of the PRD could double by that time.
IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 Red Hot Debate
October 11, 2012
Business and ecosystems are linked. All businesses affect ecosystems and rely on the services they provide. However, 60 percent of the world’s ecosystems have been degraded over the past 50 years. From food, to fuel, to freshwater – nature provides the fundamental infrastructure needed for our societies to survive and prosper, but we are destroying the source of these vital ingredients for life. We can no longer rely on the current economic model, which originated in the Industrial Revolution, to doing things. We must work with nature rather than against it.
Spatial distribution of SO2 from ships around Hong Kong, 2008
October 03, 2012
Finally, some data. A couple of weeks ago Civic Exchange and two Hong Kong universities released a report detailing the extent of emissions from ships in the Pearl River Delta region, and their public health impact. It’s a groundbreaking study. Using 2008 data, researchers from HKUST did a ship emissions inventory of vessels activity across the PRD. They then calculated the dispersion of the pollutants, which showed that Shenzhen and Hong Kong have the most ship emissions, ahead of other coastal PRD regions such as Zhongshan and Dongguan, and outer PRD regions, like Foshan and Huizhou.
Hong Kong pedestrian traffic
September 10, 2012
The Hong Kong Government had just announced plans to outfit various outdoor areas with lifts. Whether it was political convenience or largess, the Chief Executive, Leung Chin-Ying, has promised a hefty outlay of HK$100 million (USD12.8 million) on planning and HK$1 billion (USD128 million) each year for constructing some 230 new outdoor lifts across the city. This is quite a commitment from the newly incumbent Chief, who has had a string of bad press and is facing a volatile public, two months into his term.
Hong Kong wealth
August 23, 2012
In a recent publication called the 2012 Wealth Report, Knight Frank Research and Citi Private Bank made the bold prediction that by the year 2050, the wealthiest four economies measured by GDP per capita would be in Asia. Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea will stand atop the world, with the United States ringing in 5th. By 2050 Hong Kong’s GDP per capita is projected to be USD116,639, a whopping 157 percent increase over the 2010 figure of USD45,301. Before we start salivating over our predicted future wealth, however, we must first consider the many challenges of realizing this level of economic growth in a sustainable way.
Hong Kong skyline at night
August 09, 2012
Hong Kong is the most livable city on Earth! Really? Well, that’s the conclusion drawn by Filippo Lovato, the winner of an Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) competition that challenged participants to find innovative ways of defining what it meant to be the world’s “best city.” After a carefree honeymoon period when we relished our new status — (take that Melbourne and Vienna!) — a suffocating dose of smog choked us back to reality.