Hong Kong households willing to spend extra HK$100 monthly to go green, study finds

The amount was ‘high’ compared to HK$19 for mainland families; energy-efficient lighting most welcomed while new energy cars met with reluctance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 8:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 9:45pm

Hongkongers are willing to pay about HK$100 extra per month on average to upgrade their appliances to eco-friendly ones in order to reduce household carbon emission, a study has found.

City University yesterday announced the results of its study – sponsored by a government fund of HK$450,000 – based on questionnaires randomly sent to 655 households.

Researchers said the extra amount of HK$100.40 that local households were willing to spend was “reasonably high” in comparison with findings from similar studies in other countries.

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In comparison, earlier separate studies found families on the mainland were only willing to spend an extra HK$19 monthly to reduce household carbon emission while American households were willing to incur an extra HK$57.50 per month. The number was much higher – HK$167.40 and HK$262.50 for Australian and British households respectively.

Dr Zhang Xiaoling, a City University professor who led the study, said the “willing-to-pay level is relatively high in Hong Kong”, although the study could not conclude why this was so.

The research revealed that participants were the most generous when it came to upgrading to energy efficient lighting for which they were willing to increase their budgets by 8.8 per cent.

Transitioning to new energy vehicles brought the most reluctance, as those polled were only willing to increase monthly spending by 4.7 per cent.

Loong Tsz-wai from non-governmental organisation Clean Air Network, a partner to the university in this research, said the fin­dings on average were surprising as even low-income families were willing to spend.

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He added the government could encourage more households by subsidising families who want to go green.

Regarding the lukewarm reception towards paying more for new energy vehicles or clean power sources like solar panels, Loong said the city lacked infrastructure to support these, citing the example of recent struggles with deploying electric buses.

He said Hong Kong should learn from Shanghai which is becoming very electric car-friendly.

The study also found that men were willing to pay HK$46.45 more on average than women to adopt green appliances. Dr Zhang added this might be so because men in general enjoy a higher level of income and education.