Greenhouse gas emissions from cities and regions : international implications revealed by Hong Kong

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Journal article

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Energy Policy

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Elsevier Ltd


Consumption-based greenhouse gas inventories, Hong Kong, China, Sub-national energy policies


The diversity of greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting methodologies currently utilized by cities around the world make meaningful comparisons of their emissions almost impossible. Consequently, the 2010 United Nations International Standard for Determining Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Cities promotes a "harmonized protocol for quantifying the GHG emissions attributable to cities and local regions." The UN's common standard has important implications for comparison, benchmarking and policy assessment related to energy policies. This paper uses Hong Kong as a case study to illustrate these implications. Hong Kong's per capita contribution to GHG emissions are among the highest in the world, yet the local government's official statistics indicate emissions that are far below those reported by most affluent economies. This discrepancy arises from a reporting methodology that does not require inclusion of GHG emissions linked to consumption of imported goods or emissions from aviation and shipping. The Hong Kong case reveals that current inventories do not provide sufficient information to guide policymaking related to energy and climate change. They also do not provide adequate information for comparing policies of cities internationally. Alternative emissions-reporting standards that focus more on pollution from consumption will create avenues for more effective climate-related policies.



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Funding Information

Research was supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (General Research Fund Project No. HKIEd 340309, Principal Investigator: Paul G. Harris). {340309}

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Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

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Recommended Citation

Harris, P. G., Chow, A. S. Y., & Symons, J. (2012). Greenhouse gas emissions from cities and regions: International implications revealed by Hong Kong. Energy Policy, 44, 416-424. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.02.012