Household Carbon Emission Reduction at Community Level

The project entitled “Willingness of residents to pay and motivations for reducing household carbon emission at community level in the compact city of Hong Kong” was a joint research initiative led by Dr ZHANG Xiaoling of CityU. Dr Zhang has been recognised with the CityU Outstanding Research Award for Junior Faculty 2017.


The aim of the research project was to investigate willingness-to-pay (WTP) in reducing household carbon emission (HCE) at community level in Hong Kong. In this context, it also discussed the policy instruments available to encourage HCE reduction measures. The first step was a review of the literature on efforts to adopt relevant policy instruments in other parts of the world. Next, a questionnaire-based survey was conducted in Hong Kong to investigate the extent to which households were willing to pay something towards HCE reduction. This found that local households are willing to pay HK$100.4 per month, which matches the average WTP figures reported in existing literature.

In particular, the survey found that educational background and household income can significantly affect WTP. Further analysis and discussion on the policy instruments needed to reduce HCE in Hong Kong suggested that the government should enhance education and awareness campaigns, publicise activities on environmental protection, and continue to lower the required threshold for adopting measures to reduce carbon emission.

Major findings

The study found that Hong Kong citizens are willing to pay a relatively small sum towards measures which reduce overall HCEs. When given specific proposals, the mean WTP for possible areas of improvement ranged from 4.7 to 8.8 per cent. The estimated WTP for energy-efficient lighting appliances ranked highest among all the concrete measures suggested, with a score of 8.8 per cent. In contrast, the WTP for energy-saving household appliances was 7.5 per cent, for energy-saving air conditioners 7.3 per cent, and for low-flow showers 7.2 per cent. There was less WTP enthusiasm for solar panels (5 per cent) and new-energy vehicles (4.7 per cent).

The study also found that, while Hongkongers have a rather blurry concept of how to reduce carbon emissions overall, they are generally prepared to adopt some practical day-to-day measures. In addition, the survey made it possible to evaluate the relative importance that local households attach to capital in relation to energy savings. Notably, the interest expressed in new-energy vehicles was well down the scale. A number of respondents explained that this was because Hong Kong's advanced public transport system and high parking fees limited the need for private cars and, therefore, the WTP for new-energy vehicles was correspondingly lower.

Publications and Achievements
Zhang, X., Luo, L., & Martin, S. (2015). Household carbon emission research: an analytical review of measurement, influencing factors and mitigation prospects. Journal of Cleaner Production, 103, 873-883.
Zhang, X., & Wang, Y. (2017). How to reduce household carbon emissions: A review of experience and policy design considerations. Energy Policy, 102, 116-124. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2016.12.010.