SCMP Experiences

More Hongkongers worried about mainland's environmental woes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2015, 11:58am

More Hongkongers today are anxious about the mainland's environmental problems and fret about landfill space in the city than 12 years ago, a survey shows.

The percentage of respondents concerned about environmental degradation on the mainland hit 33 per cent, more than double the figure in a 2001 survey, according to a study by the think tank Civic Exchange.

It said 36 per cent expressed concern that the city's landfills are approaching capacity, 11 percentage points more than in the 2001 survey.

"We have picked up a real rise in concern over the lack of landfill space and it is far higher in certain district council areas - the ones with landfills," said Professor Michael DeGolyer, a Baptist University academic and lead researcher on the project.

"It's definitely a not-in-my-backyard issue."

The survey was carried out before controversy erupted this summer when the government was forced to withdraw a request for the expansion of three landfill sites amid a public backlash.

Sixty-eight per cent of the 1,002 people surveyed were dissatisfied with the efforts of officials to improve the environment; 39 per cent felt experts, rather than the officials, should be responsible for devising environmental policies.

"Green groups and environmental experts are playing an important role providing environmental advice and information," Civic Exchange CEO Yan-yan Yip said. "While people place low trust in the government, rebuilding trust by putting experts' knowledge into practice is crucial."

The survey showed 66 per cent of those polled were satisfied or very satisfied by the efforts of green groups to improve the environment.

DeGolyer said people were generally concerned about the environment and tended to support policies aimed at reducing pollution. But when it came to projects requiring a financial commitment, they were reticent.

The study found that while more than 80 per cent of those polled said they were willing to pay to protect the environment, 56 per cent would only consider buying an energy-efficient flat if they thought there would be an immediate financial return on their investment.