Blogs

Forest natural capital
June 19, 2014
The United Nations created the annual International Day of Forests in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forest and to promote their wise use. Like any other causes granted their own special day of the year, the world’s forests are cherished in principle but unappreciated in practice. In the case of forests, though, the lack of appreciation is quite literal. Despite the sophistication of financial and economic systems and models, there is as yet no universally accepted framework to recognize and value forests beyond their function as remote warehouses where logs are stored vertically.
Hong Kong red tide
May 28, 2014
In future, Hong Kong will not only face water challenges from a stretched resource in terms of quantity, but also from deteriorating quality. The latter issue is especially grim, since no matter from land or ocean, Hong Kong’s water sources may literally be inundated with all kinds of pollutions. “Across the country, China has a severe scarcity of safe drinking water”, noted a special report published on China Reform on Caixin Net (http://magazine.caixin.com/2014-03-31/100658681.html) (The Caixin special report). In 2010, amongst all seven major basins – including the Pearl River Basin – only 28.7 percent were found to have I-II water rating, which is considered safe for potable use.
China environmental law
May 02, 2014
Last week the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, approved major amendments to the country’s Environmental Protection Law (EPL), the first since the law was enacted 25 years ago. These amendments are a game changer. The original EPL entered into force shortly before I moved to Beijing in 1990. I recently found a journal entry written on my second day in the nation’s capital, in which I marveled at the clean air and lack of private cars on the street.
Agricultural irrigation on the North China Plain
April 25, 2014
Among the numerous challenges China faces in its quest to become a great power, the biggest perhaps is mounting water insecurity. China has 20 percent of the world’s population but only seven percent of the world’s fresh water. To make matters worse, the country’s scarce water resources are unevenly distributed between the south and north of the country. With rapid industrialization and urbanization, the demand for fresh water is increasing at a very fast rate. It is forecast that by 2030, China’s water demand will surpass 800 billion cubic metres. However, China’s supply is severely undermined by worsening water scarcity and pollution.
Hong Kong public housing
April 07, 2014
Over the past year, growing pressures on housing in Hong Kong have led policy-makers to re-examine public housing policies towards well-off tenants. While everyone who enters public housing is means-tested upon application, over the years, the incomes and assets of some tenants have grown to the point where they can no longer be considered “poor”. In fact, a favorite talking-point of social commentators is to remark on just how many luxury cars can be found in public housing estate car parks. If they can afford BMWs, should they be allowed to live in public housing?
Alarm bell rings for climate change impacts
April 04, 2014
I have just spent a gruelling week in Yokohama, Japan at the plenary meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There the summary for policymakers on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability was adopted a day after the official closing, after an all-night marathon of work. The co-chairs of the working group crafting the summary, Chris Field of the United States and Vicente Barros of Argentina, were on the podium for nearly 40 hours straight. The rest of us lead authors were also supposed to be there on standby in case any of the government delegates had questions on the text.
Map of Fukushima evacuation zones
April 03, 2014
Here’s a pop quiz. How many people have died as a direct result of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident: A) 15,884, B) 1 or, C) 0? Until last week the correct answer was C but it can now be argued to be B as a worker at the wrecked nuclear plant died on Friday after being buried under gravel while digging a ditch. Answer A is actually the number of confirmed deaths as a result of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which sort of puts things in perspective.
Assessing ecosystem risks
April 01, 2014
Are you including in your due diligence process an assessment of ecosystem malfunction risk? It is what futurist Peter Schwartz would refer to as an “inevitable surprise.” Consider a few situational issue areas.  In 2012, China Dialogue reported that excessive pesticide use and destruction of habitat are decimating the wild bee population. The implications are many, one of which is that farmers in Southwestern China have had to hand-pollinate apple and pear trees. (This issue is global, also affecting the United States, which is of concern given that crop pollination by insects is estimated to be worth US$14.6 billion to the American economy.)
Ningbo from the river
March 20, 2014
Following the recent “Symposium on a New Type of Major Power Relationship” (see Beijing Charts), our Chinese hosts provided a tour of several cities and facilities, including factories producing solar panels and windmills. In Ningbo I wanted to stay in my hotel and write an op-ed on energy and climate, but was told this would be a major faux pas, so instead I stayed up one night writing World’s Greatest Crime Against Humanity and Nature. The city we visited that day, with population at least comparable to New York City, was bustling in development and construction.
Map of planned dams in Arunachal Pradesh
March 18, 2014
The northeastern India states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, east of Bangladesh and bordering China to the north, is an area described by politicians as India’s “future powerhouse” and is a key focus point of the country’s dam building program. The ambition of planners in New Delhi is not in doubt. So far plans for more than 160 dams – both big and small – have been announced in the northeast, the majority of them to be built in the remote, mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh and harnessing the waters of the mighty Brahmaputra river and its tributaries.
US natural gas production 1990-2040
March 13, 2014
Ukraine and the Crimea are a long way from Asia and, quite understandably, most people and countries across the region are rather less concerned than Europeans and Americans over Russia’s actions. We live an interconnected world, however, and although the eventual outcome of the Ukrainian crisis remains uncertain, there’s one sure bet that should have the attention of energy and climate policy makers across Asia.
On-shore power for ships
March 10, 2014
The Environmental Protection Department of the HKSAR Government has recently released the 2012 air pollutant emission inventory. Just as with the prior three years, ship emissions remain Hong Kong’s largest source of sulphur dioxide (SO2), respirable suspended particulates (RSP or PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The contribution of ships to air pollution has prompted the Government to take action in cleaning up the shipping sector.
ESG does not have to be abstract
March 03, 2014
ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is a common element of contemporary business administration in most parts of the world but companies in Asia have been slow to adopt comprehensive systems for ESG reporting to the standard seen elsewhere.  That doesn’t mean there has been no active ESG agenda, there has, but the imperative in Asia has been driven by a practical approach aimed at meeting formal standards and accreditations to stay competitive in the supply chain, improve environmental systems, address workplace safety or make-good negative community impacts, the result of poor production and emissions practices.
The concept of Net Positive
February 13, 2014
It is becoming increasingly clear that the traditional view of a business existing purely to maximize profit for shareholders is not so much wrong as built for another time. Businesses have been slowly moving towards a model that recognizes the impact they have on society and the environment, putting increasing amounts of budget and resource towards mitigating that impact. But just minimizing the amount of environmental damage a business does is no longer enough.
Zhejiang shark slaughterhouse
February 10, 2014
This past month, images of purportedly the world’s biggest slaughterhouse for endangered sharks were splashed across the broadsheets in Hong Kong, and across the globe. Wild Life Risk, an NGO based in Hong Kong, went undercover in a coastal city Zhejiang Province, China, to find that around 260 endangered species of sharks were being processed per day in a single plant.
Tesla China
January 27, 2014
Thanks largely to its rather uncompromising top-down system of governance, China is more capable than most in delivering on ambitious development goals in a relatively short space of time. The massive growth of its renewable energy sector to become the world’s biggest (although not per capita), is a case in point. By the same token, however, when the central planners get things wrong they can be spectacularly wrong.
Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir memorial
January 06, 2014
Vision enables us to look far and think beyond present circumstances. If we cannot envision, we do not know where we want to go; and we certainly would not get there. By nature, Hong Kong is a water scarce city, which makes a water vision all the more relevant. So what is Hong Kong’s water vision? Ever since the DongShen Water Supply Project helped to secure 70-80 percent of Hong Kong’s fresh water demand, innovation in developing water solutions rapidly declined.
Sai Yeung Choi Street
December 20, 2013
In Hong Kong’s congested urban core, pedestrianization would seem like the logical and obvious solution to overcrowded pavements, roadside air pollution, and pedestrian-vehicle conflict. Yet, pedestrianization has become a political no-go due to not-in-my-backyard politics. Last month, the Yau Tsim Mong District Council voted to curtail a pedestrian scheme in Mong Kok, one of the busiest shopping districts in the city.
Launch of SupportHK
December 18, 2013
From public demonstrations against finance institutions, the planned development of an incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, to appeals against the development of an escalator through the peaceful and historic Pound Lane in Sai Ying Pun, there appears to be a growing appetite in Hong Kong to pressure government and business to listen and act on local citizen’s concerns. 
Projection of CLP's proposed Hong Kong offshore wind farm
December 09, 2013
Charismatic Swedish statistician and “edutainer” Hans Rosling recently gave a speech where he tackled common misperceptions about global issues. He emphasized that most people overestimate the amount of effort that has been channeled into developing renewable energy and concluded: “Let’s not make a joke of solar and wind – those are the real potentials for the future, no doubt … it’s very strange that people think they are so big already, when they are really small. We haven’t even started to tap the enormous potential of solar and wind energy.”
A truly green car
November 22, 2013
We are reminded again the adverse impacts of air pollution on human health when the World Health Organization recently announced that outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic. Roadside vehicular emission is one of the major sources of air pollution in Hong Kong, yet the HKSAR Government has made little progress to date on absolute reductions of roadside emissions. Despite this, some policy changes shows promise. The new Air Quality Objective (AQO), to take effect in 2014, will be complemented by a host of other environmental initiatives that are designed to pave the way toward achieving the new AQO by 2020.
Spatial distribution of SO2 from ships around Hong Kong, 2008
November 07, 2013
Tackling air pollution must be a multi-pronged attack. Regulators and industry can reduce certain pollutants by using cleaner fuel, like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department is in the throes of tightening regulation on locally available fuel for vessels to do just this. This diesel fuel will be mostly used for so called “local craft” – like tug boats, ferries and barges – and could be used by the larger, ocean-going vessels like container ships while at berth, if regulation demands it.
Hong Kong urban Development
October 28, 2013
Country parks were recently raised in the news media as a possible source of land supply for the Hong Kong Government’s hustle towards building a large land reserve. It took them a while but the Government eventually back-peddled on the suggestion. Many were outraged by this idea, but looking back at their track record, it should not have been surprising. For quite some time now, Hong Kong’s government has been slow, unresponsive, or at times inclined to invite development into ecological areas, instead of keeping them out.
Airline emissions over European territory
October 17, 2013
The European Commission has set the cat among the aviation pigeons once again by proposing to apply the European Union’s emissions trading system (ETS) within its own airspace from 1 January 2014. The move has drawn a predicable chorus of whining from the airlines which are currently basking in self-congratulation over the recent progress made toward a global regime to control their greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this month industry regulators meeting at the assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in effect agreed to come to a final agreement on a market based mechanism to control emissions at their next triennial assembly in 2016.
From farm to fork
October 09, 2013
Hong Kong imports over 90 percent of its food supply from around the world, and China is an important source especially for fresh food. Though we might expect the government to act as gatekeepers to ensure food safety for the public, recent incidents with oilfish, Sudan dyes, malachite green etc., have all revealed that there are significant holes in our institutional framework, and that it might still be in its infancy. It also contrasts considerably with more sustainable initiatives such as “farm-to-fork”.
Living large in a Hong Kong industrial apartment
September 27, 2013
With Hong Kong’s housing prices still showing no sign of abating, it seems that government officials are looking everywhere for more land to fulfill the demand for affordable housing, including farmland, golf courses, sea reclamation and maybe even protected country parks. Everywhere, that is, except for old industrial areas. At the end of 2012, Hong Kong had about 17.1 million square metres of flatted factory space, most of it built in the 1970s and 1980s. Although only 5 percent of this was officially vacant, much of this space is in fact being underutilized or used for non-industrial purposes such as back-offices, storage spaces, and artists’ studios.
Private apartments seeming to nestle within Hong Kong's Tai Tam Country Park
September 18, 2013
Paul Chan, the Secretary for Development in Hong Kong, opened up a can of worms earlier last week by suggesting that Hong Kong should consider housing developments in country park areas. The trouble with such comments is that it is completely unfounded, and disregards the underlying purpose and benefits that country parks provide for all Hong Kong citizens. He has forgotten that country parks and other ecological protected areas in Hong Kong provide many of our essential needs?
Japan's cumulative PV solar installed capacity to August 2013
September 13, 2013
Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in Japan have now reached the 10-GW  milestone for cumulative PV capacity, according to new research featured in the NPD Solarbuzz Asia Pacific PV Market Quarterly Report. Japan is only the fifth country to reach this mark, after Germany, Italy, China and the US. Both the US and China reached 10-GW of solar PV within the past few months.
Singapore's New Water vs Hong Kong's supply from the Dong Jiang
September 06, 2013
The early 1960s were a significant era for both Hong Kong and Singapore in terms of its water policy development. In June 1963, Hong Kong imposed its highest level of water rationing. The residents were supplied with water once every four days, and each time for a four-hour period. This rationing lasted a year. In April of the same year, Singapore had implemented 12-hourly water rationing by district zones, which quickly spread to the rest of the island.
India Power Grid
September 02, 2013
India's renewable energy industry is reeling from the implications of a state ruling that waives clean-energy targets and, yet again, makes the country's business environment as attractive as a beating by a howling mob. Regulators in Gujurat state have said power distribution companies don't have to follow the central government's clean-energy targets, after State utility Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam and Ahmedabad-based Torrent Power complained that sourcing seven percent of their power from renewable sources or pay for credits was too expensive.
Amy Jiao BSR Blog
August 23, 2013
In February 2012, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) issued the Green Credit Guidelines to encourage implementation of its green credit policy, which was launched in 2007. The guidelines encourage banks operating in China to deny loans to energy inefficient, polluting, or socially risky enterprises, and instead to support green industries and projects.
Vehicle emissions graphic
August 15, 2013
According to annual air quality reports from Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD), there’s been no significant improvement in roadside emissions during the past few years. Nitrogen oxides (NOx), in particular, have been on the rise since 2008. The main culprit, according to EPD research, are LPG taxis and light buses, which account for a mere 4 percent of Hong Kong’s vehicles, but contribute up to 40 percent of roadside NOx emissions due to the malfunction and improper maintenance of vehicles emission control devices such as catalytic converters.
A polite request to Burma's energy-hungry neighbors
August 15, 2013
Questions over the future of Burma's energy policy are arising yet again. Not only has Thailand's energy minister denied that bribes have been given by the state oil company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) but China has stepped up its pressure to reignite the environmentally bankrupt Myitsone dam project. Thai energy minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal said that PTTEP had been doing business in Myanmar for over 20 years and had paid concession fees as specified in the contract. He added they had not paid any extra sum to any person close to the government and its accounts were checked by the Office of the Auditor General.
Conentrated solar power plant
August 09, 2013
China's solar industry is exuding signs of confidence again. Troubled Suntech and China Sunergy managed to regain their listings on the New York Stock Exchange, companies are gaining lines of credit again and order books look healthy. For all the cheer, however, there is still plenty of blinkered thinking on the future of the industry in China. The country’s solar companies are feeling more confident now that Chinese trade negotiators put one over on their EU counterparts. The day after the EU/China solar trade agreement shares of Chinese solar panel makers rallied in New York while European solar shares fell.
A contrast in Hong Kong pavements
August 02, 2013
Good city planning is a matter of simple economics. The street environment is a public good because it is non-excludable. It is also non-rivalrous, in that an individual can enjoy the street environment together without compromising another person’s use. However, a typical downside of the “commons” is that they are not often looked after and cared for like private property. Public goods like streets and roads should be properly planned and managed with different users in mind. However, one of the trends in city planning over the last decades is the excessive priority given to vehicular traffic over pedestrians in road planning.
Stopping BMW in China
August 02, 2013
The crack of China's environmental whip was heard across the foreign investment community when BMW was told to pick up its environmental game. “Drinking polluted water while driving BMW sedans is certainly not the type of industrialization we are looking forward to,” China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, told the People’s Daily. The environment ministry criticized an application to double capacity at a joint-venture factory, saying there had been insufficient investment in environmental protection measures.
Austerity ahead for the green sector
July 25, 2013
As China’s State Council announces a ban on any new government offices or buildings, a slowdown in China's growth continues to worry economists. Amid attempts by China's cabinet to beat the importance of frugality into its party apparatchiks and the central bank announcing 'banking reforms', ten major banks have committed themselves to supporting the green sector. It is optimistic news for the sector as the government tries to get a grip on spiraling levels of debt.
GRI reporting future
July 24, 2013
At its May conference in Amsterdam, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) released the fourth generation of its sustainability reporting guidelines, the G4, to an audience of more than 1,600 corporate sustainability practitioners, NGOs, and the media. The update was eagerly awaited, given that the G3 guidelines were first introduced seven years ago (an eternity in the fast-moving world of sustainability) and given that several other reporting frameworks, principles, standards, and mandates have emerged since 2006 that have changed the reporting landscape.
Farm adjacent to a new town in Hong Kong's New Territories
July 19, 2013
Local farming communities has been up in arms in Hong Kong this month over the government’s latest plans to develop a new town in the north eastern end of the territory, not far from its border with Shenzhen. After three public consultations and years of planning, Paul Chan, the HKSAR Secretary for Development, announced what he describes as the ultimate plan for new towns in Kwu Tong North and Fanling North. In summary, the three proposed areas for development have been cut down to two, now with a strong focus on providing for residential housing and much less on industry and jobs.
Kevin Rudd looks at Australia's carbon market once again
July 17, 2013
Kevin Rudd, Australia's re-emergent Prime Minister, is gearing up for elections by announcing a plan – that can only be implemented after the election – to transition from the country’s current carbon tax to a cap and trade system in 2014 instead of 2015. His facts and figures were dominated by promising average households an annual saving of AUD380 (USD350) on gas and electricity bills. In a magical piece of political jiggery-pokery he said the nation's 370 biggest greenhouse gas emitters would still pay for the carbon footprint but by switching from the tax to a European-style emissions trading scheme, they would pay less
CCBF - The New Normal: A Hong Kong Business Primer on Climate Change Adaptation
July 11, 2013
Climate change predictions – espoused by scientists for decades – are coming to life, and in some cases are more extreme than expected. In May 2013, the world passed a carbon threshold, when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million. Such levels haven’t been seen for 3–to-5 million years, when the global environment was much hotter and much less hospitable to human life.   Indeed, temperature increases, and related extreme weather events, are taking hold.
China city air pollution
July 08, 2013
In late February 2012, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China announced a plan to revise the national ambient air quality standards, which will be implemented across the entire country on 1 January 2016. Key regions such as the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta will implement the new standards well before 2016. One of the highlights of the announcement was the inclusion, for the first time, of standards for PM2.5 (that is, particulates with diameter of 2.5 microns or less). This is a breakthrough in air quality management in China, as tighter standards will improve the living environment and better protect public health.
Environmental protest in Kunming, China
July 02, 2013
In recent years, growing public awareness of environmental violations by companies and a fear of potential environmental impacts from large projects in China have led to an increasing number of protests across a range of industries, such as manufacturing, chemicals, waste incineration, and transportation. As they have increased in scale, these protests have resulted in projects being cancelled, postponed, or relocated, with significant financial consequences for companies and their investors.
Sarawak forest
June 28, 2013
When it comes to brass-necked gall, you've got to hand it to the clique that runs Sarawak. Regular readers of CleanBiz.Asia should be more than passingly familiar with the shameful shenanigans of Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Malaysia state’s Chief Minister since 1981. He is also Sarawak’s Financial Minister and Minister of Resource Planning and Environment. (And did someone say President-for-Life? He did, after all, directly succeed his uncle as Sarawak’s Chief Minister.)
Pig
June 20, 2013
Recently it was reported that some beef balls sold in Hong Kong contained no cattle DNA, but were in fact made of pork. With significant public outcries to address the irregularities, the HKSAR Government responded with plans to follow up on the false labeling claims. Nevertheless, the incident reveals that little is known about the origin and production of food that is available in Hong Kong.
Plasma torches
June 19, 2013
The Hong Kong Government has ruled out the use of plasma gasification technology – citing scalability and reliability issues – as part of the solution to the city’s mounting solid waste management problem. With its three current landfills due to reach capacity this decade, the administration has been pushing high-temperature incineration for some time but its funding request for an integrated waste management facility (IWMF) was rejected by the Legislative Council last year and the project’s environmental impact assessment is currently under judicial review.
Malaysia's solar biomass choice
June 14, 2013
The Malaysian Government is thinking about revamping the way it allocates feed-in tariff (FiT) to the solar power sector, as applications continue to far outstrip available budget. Under the country’s Renewable Energy Bill the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA) allocates FiT budget – split between biogas, biomass, small hydro and solar photovoltaic – on a first-come, first-served basis, every six months. To fund the FiT Tenaga Nasional, the country’s state-controlled electricity company, charges customers on the Malaysian Peninsular a one percent levy on electricity bills.
Shipping in HK
June 07, 2013
It’s not been a particularly good few weeks for those of us interested in protecting public health by reducing air pollution generated from shipping. In mid-May, the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee decided to consider delaying the next round of engine standards for vessels sailing through certain Emission Control Areas (ECAs) from 2016 to 2021. In the designated ECAs in Northern Europe and North America, sulphur dioxide (SO2), which comes from dirty fuel, is the main pollutant targeted for reduction.
HK podium towers
May 24, 2013
If you live in Singapore, Vancouver, or practically any major Mainland Chinese city – anywhere that Hong Kong property developers or architectural firms have a presence – you may have noticed some podium-tower developments. These are large buildings with a wide podium base housing a shopping mall or car park, with one or more tall residential or commercial towers perched on top. If you live in Hong Kong, you are surrounded by so many of them that you have probably never given them much thought.
Hong Kong's looming landfill problem
May 21, 2013
The Hong Kong Government has a new, multi-prongeed solid waste management plan that maps out the city’s strategy for the next decade. It's aimed at slowing the rate at which rubbish is sent to the city’s three existing mega-dumps, which are projected to reach capacity in 2015, 2017 and 2019 unless something is done. Unveiled by Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing, Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022 repackages the familiar mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” as “Use Less, Waste Less” and envisages building of at least two organic waste treatment facilities together with a large waste-to-energy incineration plant.
Plasticity HK 2013
May 10, 2013
This multi-layered environmental question keeps on being asked, seemingly with few answers that translate into action. With the Center for Biological Diversity estimating that 40 per cent of the world’s ocean surface is now littered with plastic waste, this issue must be addressed and urgently. We need to focus on the issue in a new way, and in doing so create new opportunities. Plastic waste creates large, expensive and unnecessary impact on society because of its ecological impact. Ecosystems give us everything we need to live – air, water, energy and food.
Hong Kong ivory seizure
April 30, 2013
Hong Kong customs have had some success of late in tackling the underground trade of illegal wildlife products, with large shipments of smuggled wildlife goods been intercepted through its ports. Between October 2012 and January 2013, three shipments of ivory tusks were seized by Hong Kong customs. The biggest consignment included 1,209 ivory tusks seized in two containers, arriving from Tanzania and Kenya, worth an estimated USD3.5 million. The line between legal and illegal wildlife products can be blurred and rather confusing in Hong Kong. Firstly, the sale of animal parts is ubiquitous. Crocodile skin, earthworms, seahorses and countless others, are synonymous with their use in traditional medicine.
Transparency with Beijing air pollution
April 22, 2013
Following the news on environmental issues here in China can be a grim business. The first months of 2013 alone brought coverage of January’s “airpocalypse,” when air pollution in Beijing reached historic levels; news of thousands of dead pigs floating in the Huangpu River, a primary source of Shanghai’s drinking water; and a new report indicating that China sees 1.2 million premature deaths each year due to outdoor air pollution – almost 40 percent of the world’s total of such deaths. Amid such bleak headlines, it can be easy to miss any kind of progress.
HK should learn from Singapore
April 10, 2013
Singapore and Hong Kong are traditional rivals but they also share many similarities. Both are former British colonies, have limited natural resources and are economic powerhouses. Both are also dependent on others for water resources. Singapore sources about 40 percent of its water from Malaysia, while Hong Kong purchases 70-80 percent of its raw water from Guangdong. Despite this similarity, the attitudes of Singapore and Hong Kong towards water security are drastically different.  Singapore is highly pro-active in reducing its water dependency and securing its supply, while Hong Kong appears unbothered that its water security depends on an increasingly threatened source.
China water conundrum
March 19, 2013
China’s water resources are increasingly being pitted against economic development, and losing. Water is vital to all aspects of the economy, especially for agricultural and power production, making it a strategic resource. However, China’s position as the world’s factory, and its ‘develop-first clean-up later’ mindset, has resulted in much of its water resources being compromised. This is problematic as the country suffers from a lack of potable water. It has to support 20 percent of the world’s population on only 5 percent of the worlds renewable freshwater and the UN has classified China as one of 13 countries suffering from extreme water shortages.
Chinese premiers Wen Jiabao and Li Keqiang
March 06, 2013
Out-going Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has told China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) – the country’s rubber-stamp legislature – that the government should adopt effective measures to prevent and control pollution in response to peoples’ expectations of having a good living environment. This obvious assertion came as Wen delivered his final work report to the NPC, which opened for its annual meeting this week. Next year China’s premier-in-waiting, Li Keqiang – who takes over as the head of China’s government at the close of this NPC session at the end of next week – will be delivering the work report.
Hong Kong's Olypic Station development
March 05, 2013
Hong Kong should be a walker’s paradise. It is compact and dense, with a large number of amenities concentrated in a very small space. Few errands require the use of a car, and in fact over 90 percent of daily journeys occur on public transportation. Walk Score, a US-based website which calculates walkability based on the proximity and concentration of amenities in a neighborhood, gives much of urban Hong Kong scores of 70/100 or above. Moreover, Hong Kong has a vibrant street food and market culture, boasting areas with enough complexity and variety to keep people entertained for hours. Yet Hong Kongers do not seem to enjoy walking.
Supply chain and small farmer
March 04, 2013
Sometimes, small is better. The growth of global businesses has often supported the growth of their suppliers, from original equipment manufacturers to firms that provide accounting, legal, or travel services. For companies entering new markets with smaller economies or for companies aiming to contribute to local economic growth, smaller suppliers are critical. So how can global companies with a commitment to sustainability engage suppliers whose budgets and resources may be tight?
China vs. Germany: Global Production and Demand Shares Q3’12 – Q4’13
February 28, 2013
China has been the dominant producer of solar PV components for several years, with domestic manufacturers rapidly expanding capacity and pursuing economies of scale, aided in no small part by government assistance at the provincial (driven by local job creation goals) and national (supporting a key industry sector) levels. Germany, on the other hand, has seen its production base dwindling over the past few years, while remaining the largest single-country end-market in the world. But this changed at the end of 2012 when China passed it. According to research in the upcoming NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz report, this trend is now set to continue for many years.
Groundwater sources are citical to many in China
February 20, 2013
In his maiden 2013 Policy Address Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung announced his intention to create an interdepartmental steering committee to promote green buildings. With buildings accounting for 90 per cent of Hong Kong’s electricity use and 60 per cent of its carbon emissions, this is an important step forward. But without an overarching climate policy or target for Hong Kong, any effort taken by this committee will likely be piecemeal.
Obama's green State of the Union Address 2013
February 18, 2013
President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech had few surprises except in his use of China as way to motivate rivals to stand behind his green policies. Obama put most of the onus on new climate policies on a less-than-enthusiastic Congress, but dropped a strong hint that if they don't do something, he would use his executive muscle to address climate change “for the sake of our children and our future.” 
Kai Tak Cruise
February 05, 2013
It’s been a busy and productive few weeks for both the shipping industry and the Hong Kong government. In his first policy address, Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung announced plans to introduce legislation for at-berth fuel switching during the next legislative session, continue discussions with Guangdong officials on extending fuel switching to other places in the Pearl River Delta (PRD), and for shoreside power at the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, scheduled to open in June.  
WEC Green Growth Actional Alliance
January 30, 2013
The world needs to spend a massive USD5 trillion a year on infrastructure to keep up with transport, energy and water needs, says a coalition of institutions including the OECD and World Bank. That’s equivalent to the combined GDPs of the France and the UK, each and every year. But finding the cash isn’t the only challenge, warn the authors of the report Green Investment, who presented their findings at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos – the world`s largest annual jamboree for business and politicians — last week.
Shark fins drying on an industrial scale
January 21, 2013
Our oceans are the most important ecosystem on the planet. They provide a third of our world with food, produce more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, remove half of the atmosphere’s manmade carbon dioxide and control our planet’s temperature and weather. Individuals and businesses both have a responsibility to protect our precious and delicate ecosystems – as consumers, we can demand more sustainably sourced products; and as businesses, by creating better systems of production and innovating to reduce their impact on the Earth.
Taj Mahal at sunset
January 07, 2013
No doubt: the Indian solar market has strong fundamentals. Irradiation is very high, power is expensive and in short supply. Solar is getting cheaper. In addition, there are now a host of new policies (NSM phase II, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, etc. – please refer to our other blog entries) promising upwards of 4-GW of new solar installations in the coming months. On the other hand, there are only a few players that are really enjoying themselves. Tier 1 Chinese module manufacturers find price pressures too high – as do many EPCs. Project developers still face difficulties in getting their projects financed. The question is: does anyone earn any money? The answer is: no. But those who are ready to try new approaches will do so in the future.
Australian marine reserve network
January 03, 2013
2012 was a landmark year for marine conservation. The reports began rolling in June, when the Australian government announced a proposal to protect 2.3 million square kilometres of ocean, equivalent to about a third of the size of Australia’s land mass. A few months later, the Cook Islands announced that almost a million square kilometres will be set aside as a marine park. In addition, the small island chain joins a chorus of other island nations in the Pacific, including French Polynesia and the Marshall Islands, in creating a global shark sanctuary totaling 6.7 million square kilometres in size.
Santa claus on a melting ice floe
December 27, 2012
Sitting in South-East Asia contemplating Santa Claus and Christmas largesse, it's easy to forget the snow and ice associated with Saint Nicholas. The European tradition of elves at the North Pole, sleighs and reindeer, dating from the 1820s doesn't have the same immediacy when you're preparing for a typhoon or sunning yourself on a beach. But the future effects of having less snow and ice could make those typhoons more intense and perhaps make that beach disappear altogether.
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.
Hong Kong at dusk
December 17, 2012
When it comes to sustainable urban growth, Hong Kong has been a noted success story and possible model for mainland China and other emerging economies. The city’s emphasis on infrastructure has been its traditional path to development, with new towns and a mass transit railway in the 1970s and 1980s, airport and seaport development in the 1990s, and increased bridge and rail links to mainland China in the 2000s. Hong Kong has also enjoyed the flexibility to experiment with greener, socially conscious, and more sustainable development at its own pace.
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.
Tamil Nadu solar
December 10, 2012
The India solar policy brief on the Tamil Nadu Solar Policy, just published by Bridge To India presents a detailed analysis on the risks and opportunities on the state’s ambitious 3-GW solar power target till 2015. With its policy announcement in October 2012, Tamil Nadu becomes the seventh Indian state out of 28 to announce an official solar target. No breakup between photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) projects has been given as part of the policy.
Sustainable cityscape
December 06, 2012
In 2010, we quietly crossed a global threshold: The majority of the world went from living in rural areas to living in cities. As with foreign direct investment flows and the rise of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations, this shift is a reminder that we live among imperceptible but significant megatrends. By 2050, it is estimated that 70 percent of all people will live in cities, and the infrastructure needs to accommodate them and sustain this growth are massive, requiring a delicate balance of social, environmental, and economic considerations.
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.
UNFCC Qatar 2012
November 23, 2012
Doha. Despite the evident energy, generosity and reasonable success of recent Qatari diplomatic efforts, their capital city remains synonymous with international diplomatic failure and national intransigence. Eleven years ago the World Trade Organization (WTO) launched a new round of multinational negotiations for which there has been no agreement to date. The latest news headline on the WTO web page about The Doha Round says it all: “Chair reports no ‘no’ but also no ‘yes’ for farm talks proposal”.
Asian supply chain
November 14, 2012
The impact of the media coverage of Foxconn on Apple should act as a stark reminder to companies to carefully analyze both their supply chains and how they engage them. Incidents, challenges and tragedies can have a long-lasting impact on both corporate reputations and the resilience of the supply chain itself. Unfortunately, the last few years have seen a decline in creative approaches and investment in strong supply chain engagement programs.
CNOOC, Nexen and Canada's oil sands
November 12, 2012
The economic turmoil of the financial crash saw China being feted as a white knight with drawbridges being lowered to investment from Chinese companies. This has turned to bitterness, like a liberating army becoming an occupying force. Even with struggling solar and wind sectors, China has become the dominant global power it terms of renewable energy companies. This has resulted in the US Department of Commerce increasing tariffs to between 23.75 and 250 percent on solar cells which it calls a way of offsetting subsidies provided by China through one mechanism or another.
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.
Obama Greenpeace catastrophic climate change campaign
November 06, 2012
It was like an elephant in the corner of the room as Hurricane Sandy came roaring through the Northeast United States, disrupting the lives of millions while chalking up to USD45 billion worth of damage, and yet neither presidential candidate mentioned climate change or flagged it as a policy imperative. Throughout the latter weeks of the campaign trail it became painfully obvious that neither Obama nor Romney were willing to utter policy pledges on climate change or anything environmental that could be considered hippy yogurt-weaving scare mongering.
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.
Cabon tax
October 29, 2012
Recent studies have highlighted that sizable amounts of carbon emissions are transferred between world regions in the form of traded goods and services. That is, considerably more emissions are generated for the production of imports to countries, such as the EU and US than those associated with their exports. This observation has frequently been regarded as an indication that energy-intensive industries are being relocated from industrialized to developing and newly industrializing countries, especially to China.
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.
Natural capital
October 05, 2012
Despite readily observable changes in climate extremes, skeptics continue to doubt the true impact of global warming.  Regardless of one’s position or politics on this view, it is the intellectually courageous that would deny that natural resources are vital for sustainable development. Lesser known but equally undeniable is the fact that finance, particularly from the private sector, has a critical role to play in supporting the efficient allocation of natural resources and therefore the very real challenges of climate change and sustainability.
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.
India's Taj Mahal reflect sustainability
September 26, 2012
The circular from the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 13 August 2012 finally addressed some of the issues that have been raised about recent regulation on extra financial disclosures in Indian capital markets. It comes as a follow-up to the SEBI Board’s landmark decision in November 2011 that mandated ESG disclosures from the Top 100 listed companies. The comply-or-explain stance on revelation of policy and the nine principles laid out in the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business, published by Ministry of Corporate Affairs in July 2011, provides a good starting point
HK Under Secretary for the Environment Christine Loh
September 13, 2012
In what must be considered his boldest appointments since he took office at the beginning of July, Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung has appointed Christine Loh as the Under-Secretary for the Environment in his new administration. Loh was formerly the chief executive of Civic Exchange, the Hong Kong-based think tank she co-founded in 2000, and a staunch but constructive critic of the Hong Kong Government’s environmental policies.
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.
Take a brake from Hong Kong driving
September 04, 2012
Everyone is aware of Hong Kong’s poor air quality but what can an individual or an organisation do to make a difference? This was the basic question that Standard Chartered Bank put to three NGOs back in early 2010. Together with Friends of the Earth (HK), Green Power and WWF-Hong Kong, the bank came up with a scheme focussed on Hong Kong vehicles usage and transportation options in general.
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.
India's Prime Minister faces the blackout
August 02, 2012
To paraphrase wit and playwright Oscar Wilde: “To lose one grid, Mr Singh, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”. For India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the power collapse of, eventually, three power grids over two days leaving more than 600 million people without electricity, should be the starkest message yet that India and its politicians need to stop pandering to populism, bite-the-bullet on economic reforms and clean up its legal and regulatory act.
London's Olympic Park site - before and after
July 27, 2012
The London Olympics 2012, which start today with the much-anticipated opening ceremony, is hoping to be the greenest Olympics in history. The Olympic Delivery Authority, which is responsible for building the Olympic Park, acknowledged from the beginning that the construction would impact the environment. Thus, they have taken a number of measures to reduce the impact of their construction work - reducing energy use, protecting wildlife, managing air and water quality, and reducing waste. These showcase what can be achieved by construction projects across the globe.
Money down the drain
July 19, 2012
The idea of setting up a conservation trust in Hong Kong has been on the back burner for a number of years but the city’s incumbent Chief Executive, Leung Chun-Ying, is providing new hope that a government-backed trust organization will finally get its wings. Trusts are non-profit organizations that are committed to preserving the cultural landscape and ecological heritage for the public good, indefinitely. Well-known organizations such as the National Trust in the UK have been around for over a century and are seen by the British public as a steward of places significant to its cultural past.
Rainforest bond
July 16, 2012
Tropical forests cover about 15 percent of the world’s land surface but every year around 13 million hectares of forest are cleared for crop cultivation, cattle, logging and mining (FAO 2010). Forests are both carbon guzzlers (sinks) and emitters (sources) and deforestation and forest degradation accounts for a whopping 15-17 percent of man-made GHG emissions each year. In the context of climate change, a 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions is needed by 2030 to prevent global temperature rising above 2 degrees Celsius (IPCC 2007, AR4) but the positive news is that reducing deforestation is the “single largest opportunity for cost-effective and immediate reductions of carbon emissions.”
Hong Kong water supply
July 05, 2012
In the 15 years since it returned to Chinese sovereignty Hong Kong has survived many uncertainties and crises but the place still lacks a sense of “staying vigilant in peace time”, in order to better prepare for future challenges. This is especially so in the case of water, a key issue that has been neglected for too long. The Dongguan–Shenzhen Water Project started to export water to HK in 1965, since when it has seldom suffered from water restrictions. In the past 30 years, HK has been able to supply water 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Tress provide a natural filtering service
July 03, 2012
Despite the collective groan over Rio+20’s lack of political leadership and a global process that is failing to urgently address our planetary challenges; the contrast between Rio’s Earth Summit 20 years ago and now, could hardly be greater. Back then, the spirit of sustainability was idealistic, not entirely understood and it then took some time for people to put it into practice and get fuddled by its complexity. Compare this to the current polarized ‘sustainability everything’ and surely we should be applauding Brazil’s canny negotiators for getting to any agreement at all - even if it is a hortatory, non-binding statement called “The Future We Want”.
Sha Zukang and Dilma Rousseff happy to see the end of Rio+20
June 25, 2012
It took more than a year of preparatory negotiations and somewhere between 45,000 and 50,000 people converged Rio from all corners of the global to “chew the fat” for up to 10 days (since there are always pre-meeting meetings and parallel “summits”) but what, in the end, did the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development actually achieve? According to Sha Zukang, a Chinese diplomat who had the unenviable job of being Secretary-General of Rio+20, a "substantive" outcome document has been adopted.
No to sustainable development
June 20, 2012
It is, of course, a rhetorical question. The plan to hold this year's United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has been underway for years. However, were the Earth Summit to be held in the capital city of the US state of Alabama from mid-September onwards, any delegates without diplomatic passports might be a little concerned by the implications of Alabama Senate Bill 477. It was signed into law by the state's governor last week and comes into effect three months later, having been unanimously whisked through both chambers of Alabama's legislature in the space of six weeks.
Plasticity Forum Rio
June 18, 2012
The Rio+20 Earth Summit begins in two days time. It provides a platform for world leaders, the private sector, NGOs, campaign groups and many others to come together to discuss how to develop a green economy, how to eradicate poverty and what an institutional framework for sustainable development would look like. For the third Earth Summit (the 2nd was in Johannesburg 10 years ago) there are seven priority areas: decent jobs, energy, building sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness. That’s a lot to cover in three days.
The Blue House in Hong Kong's Wanchai District
June 15, 2012
The social value of a place has not always been a strong basis for heritage conservation in Hong Kong but a sea of change could be on the horizon. The destruction of some of Hong Kong’s most iconic heritage in the past decade – such as the Central Star Ferry Terminal, Queen’s Pier, and Lee Tung (Wedding Card) Street – created a public uproar. It created recognition that certain places have meaning to society as a whole while Hong Kong government processes have been inadequate in engaging the public to identify the value of such heritage sites. Vocal opposition and resentment generated at the time represented a strong endorsement of social views on heritage issues.
Maoist revolutionary Chinese coal miners
June 13, 2012
The latest round of figures on global greenhouse gas emissions makes depressing reading. Last month the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that, after a 3.2 percent rise of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emission to 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011, the world is running out of time to prevent catastrophic climate change. "When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist told Reuters.
Hong Kong container port at night
June 05, 2012
It is now widely accepted around the world that shipping emissions need to be tightly regulated in order to protect public health. Various types of port-related equipment and activities, such as cargo handling machinery and trucking goods to and from ports, also generate pollution. Research shows that, in Hong Kong, the combined emissions from ships and port activity are a significant source of pollution that directly affects some 3.8 million people. The city’s shipping and port management stakeholders have been most active in working with local authorities to define a path towards tighter regulation, and have made progress in reducing emissions.
Time to vaccinate the environment
May 28, 2012
The environment is a closely related organism, rather like human beings. In modern medicine, what contribute the most to human health are not advanced diagnostic methods, nor the invention of a variety of cure, but the creation and practice of preventive medicine. Ancient Chinese physicians called preventive medicine "cure before it develops into a disease" (“治未病”). There was a saying: "After a symptom develops into a disease, to treat it, is like trying to dig a well when you are dying from thirsty. It would be too late
Plastic bag protest in the Philippines
May 22, 2012
Cities in a number of Asian countries, including China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan, are currently on the warpath against plastic shopping bags. The cities have passed local laws that ban such bags, on the basis that they clog sewers and drainage canals, cause street flooding, choke animals and are responsible for other forms of environmental damage. China and Taiwan, for example, impose heavy fines on violators. Other countries are appealing for a switch to the production and use of biodegradable bags.
Runnning toward sustainability
May 21, 2012
Avoiding the accusation of greenwashing is not easy for businesses. How do we judge whether a business is truly interested in reducing its carbon emissions and waste, or just wanting to look as if they are doing so? One way is to look at what community events a business supports. Running is a popular sport worldwide, with millions of people taking part in marathons all over the globe. These races need sponsors and race organisers across the world are trying to make their events greener. Sponsorship can help race organizers introduce green measures to their races and in turn, helps the sponsor become aligned with enabling sustainability education and action in the community.
Shanghai skyline
May 17, 2012
The move this week by the US Consulate in Shanghai to monitor and publish the level of fine particulate matter, less than two microns in diameter (PM2.5), in the air around its office has caused a certain amount of confusion and consternation among local residents and officials. The US diplomats are in part to blame for this because, although their measurements are no doubt sound, their data presentation in somewhat misleading. Following in the footsteps of the country’s embassy in Beijing, the Shanghai consulate now publishes the concentration of PM2.5 in micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) on an hourly basis and also publishes the average over the previous 24 hours at noon and midnight each day.
Bird's eye view of HK International Airport
May 13, 2012
On Monday 23 April 2012 the Environmental Affairs Panel of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) passed a motion requiring the Hong Kong Airport Authority (HKAA) to conduct a social return on investment (SROI) study, a carbon audit and a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in addition to the statutory environmental impact assessment (EIA) which they must conduct in order to secure approval to build a proposed third runway at Hong Kong International Airport. This decision is significant because plans to add a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport were shelved largely because a SROI study showed that the impacts on residents living near the airport outweighed the economic benefits highlighted in the original proposals.
A more sucessful example of urban renewal
May 07, 2012
In many Asian cities thriving quarters are progressively being stripped of their distinctive street life. Market pressure is forcing out older residents and local shop-owners, typically in places that have been earmarked for prime real estate development due to their central, high-traffic location. No where is this more visible and dispiriting than in Hong Kong’s older districts. The confluence of Hong Kong's high post-war population growth, limited space for development and the urban design resulted in the development of areas that are socially vibrant and commercially diverse. Today these are situated in older districts where many buildings have become dilapidated, threatening their ability to support the residents within, as well as the street activity on their doorstep.
Gate of Heavenly Peace in the smog
April 25, 2012
China’s air quality is bad – everyone knows that. We should not, however, ignore the fact that China is moving ahead in air quality management very quickly, and we should not confuse achievement with what it still has to do. China is doing a lot of the right things although there is a long way to go. After all, it took the US some forty years to set standards and develop its sophisticated regulatory system. China’s 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) has specific air pollutant reduction targets to fulfill. Bowing to public pressure, in March 2012 the Chinese government tightened air quality standards and published a phasing-in timetable nationwide.
Green shipping in the Pear River Delta
April 19, 2012
Good news – momentum is building to reduce ship emissions in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. Last month, Shenzhen Municipal Human Settlements and Environment Commission informally stated that reducing emissions from ship and port activities will be a primary area of focus this year
Apple pie
April 18, 2012
For those concerned with the burden on China’s environment from it being the 21st Century’s “workshop of the world”, Apple’s agreeing to the presence of external monitors during the auditing of pollution controls at a Chinese supplier’s factory comes as a welcome development. The weekend edition of the Financial Times reported that the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) has been invited to attend the inspection of a printed circuit board plant in the next few weeks.
Deng Xiaoping eyes China's ecological destrution
April 13, 2012
China's environment is sick, suffering not just a single, isolated disease but widespread epidemics. This is indisputable. And no matter how thoroughly we analyse individual causes, it is clear that without fixing its ill-fated development model, China will be forever chasing its pollution problem and will never get ahead of it. The country is once again in urgent need of an emancipated mind-set, redefining the concept of development to address today's conditions and to bring order out of chaos.
China solar brands
March 30, 2012
March saw a flurry of news whipping around China's solar sector, with most of the focus on the news of the United States Commerce Department's decision to impose duties on Chinese solar panel imports. But a report from Digitimes says Chinese customs' figures show that the country's polysilicon imports in February were up 62.6 percent on January and an incredible 129.6 percent over a year. While these figures reflect only one aspect of the wide-ranging, multi-product solar industry, they indicate a degree of disarray and which is also reflected in the financial results of China's manufacturers.
Congestion charging
March 16, 2012
Shenzhen, which trails only Beijing within China in terms of the number of vehicles it has on its streets, recently announced plans to launch a congestion charge in 2016. Shenzhen has 2 million registered vehicles; five years ago it had one million and its maximum capacity is thought to be 2.1 million vehicles. According to Shenzhen’s traffic bureau the city’s vehicle density is the highest in China, with 300 vehicles for every kilometer of road.
An enthusiastic crowd of nulear engineers
March 08, 2012
It’s silly season in China again; that time (which elsewhere in the world coincides with national legislatures going into recess for the summer) when the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) get together for their annual two-week hoedown. CPCC members, taking up their advisory role on the national stage, seem particularly “full of notions”, as my grandmother was fond of saying. For example Chen Bingde, chief engineer of Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) and a member of the CPPCC National Committee told China Daily on Saturday that: "In the near future, nuclear plants can be built right next to cities."
Urban well-being
March 07, 2012
People have grown accustomed to believing that the gross domestic product (GDP) is what really matters; that it could be used to demonstrate a society’s well-being. It was, however, never created with this intent. Simply, GDP measures the amount of money that changes hands, but how much we have in our pockets does not adequately tell us how well we are doing, in all the dimensions of our lives.
HK Financial Secretary cash for shipping emissions reduction
February 22, 2012
On 1 February John Tsang, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, announced in his Budget a HKD260 million (USD33.3 million) subsidy in the form of reduced harbor and light fees over three years for ships that switch to 0.5 percent sulfur fuel or cleaner. This proposal will be debated by the Hong Kong Legislative Council in March and is expected to pass.
Battling cadmium contamination of the Longjiang
February 08, 2012
The cadmium spill in Guangxi province has been the headlines for a few days now and there could be more to come. With two out of the three main tributaries of the Pearl River (西江和北江,the west and the north tributary Xijiang and Beijiang) now contaminated with cadmium, will the Dongjiang (东江,the east tributary) be next? Many people in the Pearl River basin are very concerned about the current situation in Guangxi but few remember that seven years ago there was an even worse cadmium spill close by, on a section of Beijiang that runs past Shaoguan 韶关市) in Guangdong province.
Cradle-to-cradle
February 03, 2012
Asia has led the world since the global financial crisis hit much of the developed world and looks set to see further robust growth in 2012.  Standard & Poor's has, however, warned that the region cannot be entirely immune from economic risks elsewhere, particularly in Europe and the USA, and that may have impacts including interest rate cuts and an increase in stimulus spending[1].  The pace of development across the region over recent decades has meant unprecedented advances in technology, prosperity and consumption, with Asian economies now well-placed to consolidate growth in the second half of the year, according to Reuters.
The Chinese Grassbird
February 02, 2012
The world’s foremost experts group on birds, the International Ornithologists’ Union, has just confirmed a new species of bird that was discovered on the mountain peaks of Hong Kong. Given the common name Chinese Grassbird, their estimated numbers are few (initial estimates suggests no more than 50-100 pairs in Hong Kong); therefore, the cause for conservation should be great. It might be fortunate that the hill and mountaintop habitats where these birds make their home are largely found within Hong Kong’s country parks network.
Kwai Chung Container Terminal
January 25, 2012
The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (EPD) recently presented proposals to reduce emissions from vessels to improve air quality in Hong Kong at an Environmental Affairs Panel meeting in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in December 2011. This is a positive step towards regulation in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region more generally.
Hong Kong roadside pollution
January 21, 2012
It was a bad week for those hoping Hong Kong's air quality is going to improve anytime soon. On Tuesday the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, to give its full title, announced that sometime between April this year and March next year, it intends to move forward with legislation to update its air quality objectives (AQOs) by 2014 and put 22 improvement measures in place. While this is a promise that some reasonable progress will be at last be made, many observers – myself included – are flabbergasted that it has been such a long time coming.
Balloons of Pagan
January 13, 2012
There is an intriguing fight developing between clean and renewable business and non-green industries in Burma. In a very public announcement – to reporters in Rangoon – the minister for electricity Khin Maung Soe halted the construction of a Thai-backed coal-fired power station. It comes only months after the Chinese-funded Myitsone hydroelectric dam was halted after listening to “the people”.  This time he said the coal-fired plant at Dawei had raised pollution and environmental concerns.
Green student activists at the Canadian International School
January 12, 2012
I recently attended a meeting in a large, airy building with wooden beamed ceilings and a huge Christmas tree in the corner to talk with committee members of a new environmental initiative charged with promoting green living  throughout the organization. With such campaigns as Meatless Mondays, Lights Out Fridays, and a complete ban on the use of plastic bottles, one would think you were talking to a large corporation making its first moves into the sustainability world.
One take on a World Environment Organisation logo
January 11, 2012
The United Nations will be convening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next June to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit, held in the same city. The Rio+20 conference will assess progress since 1992 and aim to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development. One of the priorities is recognizing that current governance systems to protect the environment have failed to meet expectations — indeed, the health of our environment has taken a turn for the worse over the past decades.
China espinoage
January 04, 2012
In all the rush and stupor of the Festive Season there were a couple of intriguing stories that didn't get the notice they deserved. Amidst what US-observers describe as a bleak outlook surrounding federal clean energy policy, it seems there was a victory for those supporting US/China clean energy co-operation and the framework of US/China Clean Energy Research Centers (CERCs) in building energy efficiency (Lawrence Berkeley Lab), electric vehicles (University of Michigan) and clean coal (University of West Virginia).
Electronic road pricing
December 28, 2011
The election season for 2012 has already started in Hong Kong. The hot issue is a three-way race for chief executive – the top political post – which is selected by an election committee of 1,200 members, whom are “elected” themselves by a relatively small eligible electorate of about 200,000 people. For anyone to get to the starting line, he or she must get 150 nominations from these 1,200 members. Right now, there are three camps vying to get enough nominations.
Geothermal resources in the US
December 13, 2011
The COP17 climate talks in Durban have come to an end with 16,000 delegates from 190 countries having struggled for a fortnight with the sheer procedural difficulties of negotiation on that scale. The drama of shifting alliances, with the less developed nations and island states siding with the EU to fire a warning shot across the bows of the BASIC block (or should that now be the BASICUS block) was diverting, but it is no surprise that the new roadmap for international action on climate change doesn't actually provide much guidance to the future.
Private equity ready with cash for cleantech
December 13, 2011
The cleantech business must be worrying what the news of Haitong Securities pulling its USD1.7 billion Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) on the grounds of poor market conditions, will do to their prospects. Guodian Technology and Environment Group, a maker of wind equipment, will price its IPO on Wednesday, expecting to aim to raise about USD643 million. Later this week windfarm developer Beijing Jingneng Clean Energy is expected to price its IPO at around USD300 million.
Malaysian has plenty of solar and biomass
December 07, 2011
Malaysia's new renewable energy feed-in-tariff (FiT) regime has had mixed results since applications opened at the beginning of the month. While almost the entire allocation of FiT budget earmarked for solar photovoltaic (PV) projects through to the middle of 2014 was applied for within 24 hours, other types of renewables covered by the scheme have proven to be considerably less popular thus far. The country is following the familiar FiT model but with a quota system for different types of renewable energy (RE), designed to avoid the bubbles in RE project development as seen in the European solar sector.
Chinese village hi-rise housing
December 02, 2011
After four years in action, the “appliances to the countryside (家电下乡)” policy has just concluded. Meanwhile, the “farmers into high-rises (农民上楼)” movement of recent years, mired in intense controversy, is going full-steam ahead. Looking at the most apparent differences between urban and rural lifestyles, these two vigorously implemented policies for “benefiting the people” have ostensibly shrunken the gap between rural and urban living.
Kwai Chung Container Port at night
November 27, 2011
A groundbreaking marine emissions inventory of vessel traffic in Hong Kong, commissioned by the Environmental Protection Department, and presented at a recent conference, helps us to understand the extent of air pollution from vessels in this city. This is one of the first inventories of its kind in Asia, with similar work being done by government bodies in Shanghai and Taiwan. The Hong Kong study will likely raise awareness about the impact that these emissions can have in port cities.
Reasons to be cheerful 1
November 18, 2011
It's 10 days out from the start of COP17, the UN Climate Change Conference 2011 being held in Durban, South Africa, and the level of anticipation can best be described as flaccid. Two years ago many people were excited and inspired by the prospects of the Copenhagen conference (remember Hopenhagen?) and a year ago there was at least plenty of media buzz about whether anything could be rescued from the COP15 train wreck at Cancún. This time around the lack of interest pretty much defines the outcome: the Europeans will be earnest, the BASIC block will be intransigent and the Americans will be irrelevant.
Hong Kong's got plenty of green space
November 16, 2011
The most expensive street in the world can be found in Hong Kong, as can some of the world’s most expensive office space. In a place of high land premiums, it is astounding that Hong Kong can come out favorably in statistics about green space. Indeed, some 42 percent of the land mass in Hong Kong has been designated as country parks and special protected areas, making it a territory with one of the highest percentage of protected areas on the globe.
Penguin sweaters needed
November 02, 2011
With news of another oil spill, this time off the coast of New Zealand, requests have been made for people to send knitted sweaters for the rescued penguins. 100 percent wool only, and yes, this is 100 percent true. There is a strong link between knitting jumpers for penguins, dealing with the consequences of our consumer society, swap parties and being happier.
Sailing into a storm
October 26, 2011
The drama of the debates at last month’s “Greener Skies” Aviation and Environment Conference in Hong Kong was heightened earlier this month when a senior European Union legal officer advised the EU Court of Justice that the inclusion of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was lawful. The Court usually accepts the legal officer’s advice.
China and Myanmar at cross purposes over Myitsone
October 18, 2011
One simply cannot ignore the Burma/China debate over the Myitsone hydropower plant project, which the Burmese president Thein Sein cancelled unexpectedly earlier this month. The story has the cynics guffawing in the aisles. On the one hand you have a Chinese state administration spluttering out excuses as it attempts to get its collective brain around a poor and owing neighbour putting two fingers up at its attempts to "help" it develop. On the other you have a state media returning to the age of Chairman Mao with a series of nauseatingly fawning pieces of state propaganda.
The Hong Kong Government's Spaghetti Junction
October 14, 2011
Spaghetti Junction is the best description of Hong Kong government policymaking and Chief Executive Donald Tsang's latest (and last) Policy Address is a classic example. At the start of his speech, the Chief Executive quoted his 2007 election manifesto: "I envisioned generating economic development through infrastructure development. At the same time, we must balance development needs with environmental protection and conservation to create a better living environment".
China rural migrant flow
October 10, 2011
“Those who live in the city want to bail out, while those who live outside of the city want to rush in (“城里的人想逃出去,城外的人想冲进来”)”. The famous motto in Qian Zhongshu’s "Fortress Besieged" (1947) is – more than marriage – a portrayal of urbanization in China today. Why do people in cities want to bail out and why do those outside want to rush in? Where are they going? Where do they want to go?
Ocean-going vessel
September 29, 2011
October marks a year since since the launch of the Fair Winds Charter, a volunary shceme for for ocean-going vessels to swicth to cleaner fuel when calling into Hong Kong. Charter signatories and other stakeholders have been urges governments in Pearl River Delta to madate this across the region but so far, no regulation has been announced by any of the PRD governments.
Pristine Antartica
September 21, 2011
Most of the time, threats to the environment are reported in a negative light. In Hong Kong, land and sea developments that can adversely affect the environment are readily reported in the news media, such as the proposal for a third runway at the Hong Kong International Airport, or the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, both of which have the potential of spawning environmental impacts beyond human health thresholds.
HK Airport Authority's third runway plan
September 14, 2011
In the last three months Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) has been consulting the public on its masterplan for the next 20 years. In essence this comes down to whether an additional runway should be added to airport or whether growth should be limited to the maximum capacity of the existing two runways.
Sustainable Development
September 12, 2011
Today you’ll hear sustainable development mentioned everywhere from promoting the latest app, at a shoe launch or painted in bold across bill boards (add to this list every time you hear the word “sustainable”).
China high-speed train wreck
September 09, 2011
In the absence of a good governance system China’s “Power the Nation” dream is pushing the country into rapid environmental deterioration. Throughout this year, the alarm bells have been ringing:
Apple as Dorian Grey
September 05, 2011
Oscar Widle's novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey, tells of a beautiful and idealistic young man who sells his soul to ensure that his portrait will age rather than himself. He subsequently leads a life of debauchery, but the portrait serves as a disturbing reminder of the effect each act has upon his soul, with the sins displayed as a disfigurement of his form.
Vertical farming
August 31, 2011
Urban farming methods can enable city dwellers to grow their own food, save money and reduce carbon emissions from transport and energy use associated with food production.
Hong Kong roadside air pollution
August 24, 2011
There is a mystery in Hong Kong: Why is roadside air quality so bad? The government has put in place various initiatives over the years to require new vehicles to comply with the latest standards, and to require the use of cleaner fuels.
Illustration of emissions trading
August 22, 2011
China is looking at ways to bring in a system of absolute carbon dioxide caps and considering its own voluntary carbon trading program.
Where there's muck there's money
August 17, 2011
With the steady growth of Asian cities more and more waste is being produced and, if not treated correctly, will become a huge environmental issue.
China reverse-takeover plays get thumbs down at NYSE
August 12, 2011
Listing rules are being shaken up on the American stock exchanges in the wake of dubious accounting practices by a string of Chinese firms, include a large slice of the US-listed Chinese cleantech sector.
Map of China's nuclear power development
August 11, 2011
Observers of China's nuclear expansion are still waiting to see what the government's post-Fukushima review will mean for the future of nuclear energy in China. But nothing so far indicates that the review will slow the scale of development substantially - or alleviate the pressures this nuclear building boom will put on China's human, regulatory, or technical resources.
Smokey ship's funnel
August 04, 2011
There's a vast range of environmental issues that face cargo owners as they clean up their logistics process. Many of these companies have been focusing on reducing carbon emissions to meet regulation and to respond to growing consumer demands for lower carbon products.
Unhappy orangutan
August 03, 2011
As pressure mounts against the palm-oil industry and its unsustainable practices, Malaysia is ramping up its official rhetoric to support its aspirations to become a major biofuel supplier.
Judgement hangs over Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai Bridge project
July 27, 2011
The judicial review (JR) regarding the controversial Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge continues to draw out important issues in environmental governance for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta.
A Japanese clown
July 22, 2011
No doubt safe in the knowledge that he will not be in office by then, Japanese environment minister Satsuki Eda vowed Wednesday to maintain the country's pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Tinned whale anyone?
July 22, 2011
There was a valuable lesson to be learned from last week's meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) - primarily that multilateral organisations set up to conserve, protect and create sustainable policies for the world are all too vulnerable to vested interests at best, and corruption, at worst.
Hong Kong change
July 20, 2011
If the liveliness of a city is any measure of the degree of information directed at its inhabitant, then Hong Kong's denizens would surely boast a surplus.
C40 Sao Paolo Summit
July 13, 2011
Every two years the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group convenes a major conference that brings together mayors, their senior staff and business leaders from major cities around the world. Through a comprehensive programme of interactive sessions, delegates learn from each other's experience, share best practices and identify collaborative projects.
Loess Plateau before and after
July 08, 2011
  Hong Kong can boast more tree, moth, bat, butterfly and dragonfly species than the United Kingdom. Green space is accessible simply by jumping on a train or bus.
Carbon footprint
June 26, 2011
Civic Exchange has been measuring the environmental footprint of our small operation. We have an office of just under 1,000 square foot and we have a number of staff and regular researchers who use the office.
BYD's Wang Chuan-Fu
June 23, 2011
It seems not even the prestige of winning, not one, but two high-profile contracts to provide fleets of electric buses to Singapore and Frankfurt could help Chinese rechargeable battery and auto maker BYD Company raise what it expected from the Shenzhen markets.
Some China-based listing don't smell too good
June 19, 2011
The advance of China's clean and green firms on international stock markets is facing a spirited defence from independent financial researchers, fund managers and regulators.
Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant under the Kong Kong flag
June 14, 2011
Thirty years ago, Guangdong Province was selected as the site for a momentous experiment - the opening up of China - which changed the economic order of the world.
Fairtrade supermarket trolley
June 14, 2011
International voluntary sustainability standards - such as the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies sustainably managed forests and forest products - are tools for verifying socially sound and eco-friendly goods and services that play an increasingly important role in global trade. However, they are still relatively new and underused in China.
Fair Winds Charter for Hong Kong
June 08, 2011
On January 1 2011, 18 shipping companies voluntarily, and without a subsidy, began using cleaner fuel while at berth in Hong Kong. Shipping companies estimate that this switch costs from USD500,000-2 million annually. What is behind this commitment?
COP10 Nagoya logo
June 02, 2011
Hong Kong's environmental NGOs (envNGOs) are not exactly known for singing the praises of Government. Having long served as the environmental watchdogs in a city that prioritized economic development, very often to the detriment of important habitats, species and our wider quality of life, this is hardly surprising.
Solazyme technology platform
May 22, 2011
US company Solazyme has nearly doubled the estimates of funds raised from its planned initial placement offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange, up to USD184 million. Should its shares reach the mid-point of the estimated price range of USD15-17 per share, it will value the algae fuel and product maker at USD1 billion.
Nuclear fallout shelter sign
April 12, 2011
The nuclear power industry likes to point to the fact that, on the whole, it has a pretty solid safety record. Apart from the Chernobyl disaster, no nuclear workers or members of the public are known to have died as a result of exposure to radiation due to at an incident at a commercial nuclear reactor.
Japan GHG emission reduction pledge
April 08, 2011
Contradictory statements from government ministers and officials this week brought into focus the prospect that Japan may have to revise its short- and medium-term greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as a result of the impact of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on its nuclear generating capacity.
The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant in Þingvellir, Iceland
March 25, 2011
As Japan struggles with the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake - including a death-toll likely to top 25,000, more than 2,750 injured, 400,000 homeless and an estimated economic cost in excess of USD100 billion - confidence in civilian nuclear power across Asia has been badly shaken.