Blogs

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.
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.
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.