Hong Kong residents want better environmental protection

When questioned, residents in Hong Kong stated that they have a great deal of concern about environmental issues, and many are dissatisfied with the government’s efforts to clean up the environment, says a new report.

A random telephone survey, which was carried out between 27 September and 5 October this year and involved 964 respondents aged 18 and above, revealed that many Hong Kong residents would like to see the government make many environmental issues a top or medium priority. The residents stated that they are willing to support greater law enforcement and higher fines in order to protect the environment.

The survey reveals that the Hong Kong government’s environmental priorities are generally similar to those the residents. However, there are two areas that differ considerably. Firstly, the lack of landfill space is eighth on the government’s priority list, but is only 13th on the resident’s list. Conversely, whilst indoor air pollution is only 16th on the government’s priority list, it is ranked as the seventh most important environmental issue by Hong Kong’s residents.

One issue that is of particular concern to those living in Hong Kong is the state of their drinking water. Despite assurances by the government that tap water is safe to drink, a mammoth 87% of respondents stated that they boil their tap water before drinking it, with 7% filtering water, 3% buying bottled water, and only 3% drinking water straight from the tap.

Another issue of concern is the state of seafood from the region, with 68% saying that they rarely or never eat seafood. Of these, two-thirds cited concerns about contamination from pollutants such as sewage or heavy metals as the main reason why they avoid seafood, and only one in five stating that they don’t like seafood.

Many citizens say that they are willing to purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles or take public transport if services are improved, says the report. When questioned about their travel arrangements, 67% of respondents stated that difficulty in finding parking would affect their driving frequency or make them use public transport. Sixty percent also stated that more convenient and comfortable public transport would draw them out of their cars, as would traffic congestion. Other incentives stated include higher parking and fuel costs.

Residents also appear to be relatively keen to participate in environmental activities, with 55% stating that they had taken part in a waste recycling project in the past two years, 19% having visited a nature reserve during that time, and 11% having taken part in activities such as beach cleaning or litter collection, or having been to an environmental meeting.

With regards to voting with their wallets, 15% of Hong Kong residents stated that they purchase goods labelled as environmentally friendly whenever possible, with 29% buying them sometimes, and 17% never buying them at all. However, 27% also stated that they did not know whether they bought environmentally friendly alternatives or not.

The survey’s results also show that there is a strong correlation between educational level and environmental priorities, particularly among younger respondents and those who use the internet. According to the researchers, this indicates that environmental issues are sure to grow in importance as Hong Kong moves further into this century.

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