The Greening of China

As China's Guangdong Province has boomed, it has exported its environmental degradation to Hong Kong. But, while officials have been slow to act, people and companies have exerted growing pressure for change, resulting in several initiatives that could serve as models for all of China.

Two countries – the United States and China – remain aloof from global efforts to create a new post-Kyoto framework on climate change. Fifty years ago, the rest of the world might have carried on with remedying the problem of conventional and greenhouse gas emissions and let China and the US stew in their own waste. But the world is now so interdependent that what happens in one place affects all others.

For example, visitors and residents alike have long thought of Hong Kong as a beautiful city clinging to the South China coast. But, for at least five years, Hong Kong’s citizens have found themselves starting to cough and wheeze from the city’s increasingly degraded air. Corporate employers are even complaining about not being able to attract overseas talent.

Pollution from Hong Kong’s own power generation plants, growing number of vehicles, and burgeoning shipping industry can certainly be reduced. But the lion’s share of this industrial haze – like the growing pollution of its coastal waters – is a direct result of the rapid industrialization of the Pearl River Delta across the border in China’s Guangdong Province. China is exporting not only more and more goods, but also its environmental degradation.

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