One reason Hong Kong has such a big ecological footprint is because of the population. This city has a big population, and with that many people you have more of an ecological footprint. If you cram that many people into one tiny space, there needs to be ways to make it comfortable for everyone. One of those ways is to make it more energy intensive.
The current estimate is that there is about 7,003,700 people in Hong Kong. That many people densely packed into one city is bound to leave a large footprint.
A carbon footprint is technically the measure of the amount of greenhouse gases an individual is responsible for having put into the atmosphere through their consumption of goods and services. It measures quantities of greenhouse gases that are emitted as direct and indirect results of daily human activities that require burning fossil fuels (e.g. transportation, electricity).
Scientists in Norway published a study in June 2009 that cited Hong Kong as having the second-largest carbon footprint per capita in the world. While it is true that high patterns of consumption among its citizens contribute to this, it should also be noted that Hong Kong runs on an import-based economy. As a relatively geographically isolated city, its inhabitants are very dependant upon trade for supplying them with necessary goods. In fact, only 17% of pollution emissions originate from domestic production and activities. This means that a significant contribution to the footprint calculation stems from the manufacturing and transportation of imported goods needed by Hong Kong’s citizens.
Consider how carbon footprint calculations are computed:
“1. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation (e.g. car and plane). We have direct control of these.
2. The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products we use – those associated with their manufacture and eventual breakdown. To put it very simply – the more we buy the more emissions will be caused on our behalf.”
If you consider the extra transportation and manufacturing (assembly, etc.) required to provide imported goods to the public, you can understand a major cause for the size of the city’s per capita carbon footprints.
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