2.2 earths needed for HK lifestyle, WWF says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 January, 2011, 12:00am

Hong Kong people are living beyond the earth's limits.

A new WWF report shows that more than the amount of resources needed for two earths would be required to sustain the pace of consumption if all people in the world lived a lifestyle like that of Hongkongers.

The report says a Hong Kong resident, on average, uses 86kg of paper a year and eats about 30.3kg of beef a year, up from 15kg in 2007. This is more than seven times the amount consumed on the mainland and almost double that of the European Union, according to the WWF report, citing United States figures.

Seafood consumption per person in Hong Kong is 62kg a year, ranking third in Asia, while as much as 90 per cent of seafood is imported from more than 150 countries.

The Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report 2010 found that if everyone in the world lived a similar lifestyle to that of Hong Kong people, we would need the equivalent resources of 2.2 planets.

The ecological footprint measures human demand for the regenerative capacity of the planet's biosphere, or biocapacity.

It is derived by evaluating production and trade flows of crops, timber, forests, fish and meat products, as well as the amount of forest land needed to absorb carbon dioxide emissions.

It is expressed in units of global hectares, or gha, defined as hectares with world-average biological productivity. While on average a global citizen uses 1.8gha, a typical Hongkonger uses four.

The first Hong Kong report published in 2008 found that the city would always be an 'ecological debtor', meaning it would always need more resources than the land and sea mass can sustain, mainly because of its reliance on imports.

'While it is unrealistic to think that Hong Kong could ever be self-sufficient in terms of renewable natural resources, Hong Kong has become excessively reliant on the natural resources of the rest of the planet,' said Dr Andy Cornish, WWF-Hong Kong conservation director, who said this would result in more global competition for natural resources.

'Consumers can demand that the seafood and timber products we consume are produced sustainably.'

The release of the 2010 report also marked the launch of Earth Hour 2011, a global lights-off campaign. It will be held at 8.30pm on March 26.

In 2010, hundreds of millions of people from 4,600 cities across the world turned off their lights for an hour in a show of solidarity for the future of the earth.

Supersize us

From 15kg in 2007, a Hong Kong resident, on average, now eats this amount of beef a year: 30.3kg